The Heartbeat This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     Dan was coming over that night to hang out around eight, but he's always late. It was half past eight already.

It was our seven-month anniversary, which usually would be no big deal, but we had just had our first big upset the night before and things were kind of shaky. It was my doing. I had asked him how he really felt about me because he doesn't talk about his feelings. I know he's shy, but it wasn't fair that I always told him how I felt and got nothing in return. I asked him about it and it all blew up in my face. So, I was kind of hoping the night wouldn't be a disaster.

When he arrived, it was a regular night for us, just watching television and sitting around. We didn't really talk much, I think we were both thinking about our fight. Finally, I decided the silence was unbearable.

"I'm sorry if I seemed angry last night on the phone," I started. "I didn't mean to upset you."

"Don't worry about it," he replied. "You were upset, and I understand why."

I looked at him questioningly. Was he just trying to blow me off?

"I had every right to get upset, you know," I remarked. "You really aren't open with your feelings. I have no clue how you feel or where this relationship is going. I want to know if you're going to be around or if I'm wasting my time."

He was quiet a moment, trying to absorb the words I had thrown at him.

"I like you a lot and I have no intention of going anywhere," he answered.

"Yeah, that's what you say, but how can I be sure? You never show me how you feel with actions, and you never talk about your feelings, so what am I to do? Be a mind reader?"

"I don't know, that's just how I am. I can't help it, Danielle. All I know is that I like you a lot and I don't want to lose you. You mean the world to me."

I gave up with my cross-examination because I knew I'd hit a dead end with his "that's just how I am" business. So, we just continued to watch television.

Twenty minutes or so went by. I was lying with my head on his chest watching the tube. I started to hear his heartbeat and noticed something was off. Whereas most people have two quick beats, he had the regular two beats with a really quick third one slipping in on the tail of the second. I looked up at him, puzzled.

"Are you human?" I jokingly asked.

"What?" he replied, surprised.

"Your heartbeat, it's off. You have three beats."

"Oh, that. I know, I have a heart murmur. I've had it since I was young."

"Aw! That's kind of sweet!" I replied.

I lay my head back on his chest to hear the beats again. It was so cool! I tapped them out with my hand. One, two, three ... one, two, three.

"It sounds like it's talking to me," I giggled.

I felt Dan's breathing increase and his heartbeat get faster.

"It is talking," he replied. "It's saying, 'I love you.'"

I stopped tapping immediately. My own heart skipped a beat. I picked my head up and looked him in the eyes.

"What did you say?"

"I love you."

At that moment everything I had asked for had come true. He told me how he felt in one perfect sentence. The whole fight we had was gone with that phrase, a phrase that probably took forever to get out. I realized in that moment that this was the guy I fell for. So, what else was there to do?

I said, "I love you, too."

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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