Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Expectations Exceeded

     They’re playing. I can feel the wind rush across my face as they pass by, everything is moving quickly. They pass the ball too and fro, and they run up and down the field. Each one of them is engraved in my mind – their movements, the way their hair bounces when they run. It’s a picture that is stored away forever.
     The grass I’m sitting on is wet. The sun is glistening off of it in dew-ey sparkles and I can’t help but stare for a moment. Everything stands still for a second as I watch the raindrops begin to fall on the grass. The rain transforms the scene. Suddenly everyone is wet. Their hair sticks to their faces and necks, it doesn’t bounce with their steps anymore – it’s contained.
     I glance at the cool metal sitting next to me. Its presence is a constant reminder that I’m stuck like wet hair sticks to people’s faces. I’m stuck. The machine taunts me in a way that no one will ever understand. I can never be out their with them. I can never play.
     The ball is black and white, but it’s stained by mud and old age. It’s obviously used. They kick the ball around, and every time it flies through the air I can see the mud and water flying off of it in droplets. Every time it flies it leaves the person who kicked it splattered with dirt. But they don’t mind, the dirt is exhilarating to them.
     As I watch I can see their chests rising and falling heavily – their pulses are racing – and I’m reminded of why I can never play. My heart can’t race. A rising pulse equals death for me.
     I undo my long hair from its braid and pull it up into a ponytail. I stand up. Already I can feel it, my heartbeat has begun to quicken. I unhook my arm from the moniter by my side and I leave the AED behind. I walk with determined steps through the rain and onto the field.
     I feel their eyes on me; they’re confused but afraid to ask. I take their silence as permission and continue across the field. At last they stop staring and the ball is back in play.
     Slowly I begin to move. I walk towards the ball. Then I begin to run. A slow jog at first that gradually quickens, I’m running for the first time in seventeen years – for the first time in my life.
     Knowing my time is shortening I jump. I feel what it’s like to not be touching the ground at all, and I’m amazed. It’s not like flying. There is no essence of weightlessness. There seems to be no crest to reach, no pause before I descend. Disappointment overcomes me for a moment, but excitement takes over once more when my feet touch the ground again. The reality is, I got to jump.
     I continue to run, my legs hurt already, but I still lift my feet from the ground. I can feel my heart racing; I can feel the offset beating – the mistakes. But I still run. My legs feel like deadweight, but I don’t stop moving. It’s becoming clearer now, the arrhythmia, but I can’t stop yet.
     I know it’s almost time when people stop moving and begin to stare. My face must be betraying me, reflecting the shutting down of my body. I know it’s time when I try to step forward but my leg gives out. I know it’s time when I try to catch myself from falling, but my arms are too heavy to outstretch in front of me. I know it’s time when I feel the wet grass on my face, and I can’t open my eyes. I know it’s time.
     I can make out the screams of the people around me. I can hear their thudding footsteps on the ground as they get closer. I feel them turn me over, yelling about getting the AED, but it won’t work. They don’t know that it won’t work. They don’t know that they’ve just watched me die. They don’t know that it was the happiest day of my life. They don’t know that my doctors told me three months ago that I was supposed to have died yesterday. They don’t know that today I ran, and I jumped, and heard my heart pounding in my ears. They don’t know that in death I found life.

This is something I've been thinking about writing for a long time. Several years actually. I intended on writing this as a multi-chapter story (and I even wrote the first three) and this scene would have been the end of the book, but it didn't turn out as well as I planned. So to give you some background so that you understand what you're reading I'm gonna tell you a bit about this story that I have titled "Expectations Exceeded." 
The main character is a seventeen year old girl named Rina. Rina has suffered from a disease called Long QT Syndrome (LQTS) since birth. This disease effects how the heart beats when a person gets excited or scared or shocked or exercises or whatever might raise their pulse. So when someone with LQTS experiences one of these things they experience an arrhythmia and  often lose consciousness. They then require the use of an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) which shocks their heart and brings them back. 
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