I can't stand the sound of my own heart. It will keep me awake if I notice it as I'm trying to fall asleep. I arrange myself among the pillows to try and muffle its beating. I think of steps chasing up stairs, I think of all the echo cardiograms I have had as a child and now adult. The digital woosh of the shadowy valves on the screen, the frowning technician, the cold jelly. If I can just leave here one more time, I will feel so lucky.
I was born with a hole in my heart, which was a lot harder on my parents than me. I don't remember the several operations I had as a baby and up until third grade, I just have scar up the length of my sternum when I wear a bikini.
I had to take a stress test before I did high school sports. I remember asking, embarassed, if my scar would stretch when my boobs came in (very optimistic of me, really) The doctor said:
"No, don't worry about that. What you should worry about is if you get on a head-on car collision, because your rib cage-- which we had to saw open for the surgery and then band together with a thin piece of metal afterward-- could fly open."
Everyone has a heart, but I wonder if anyone else is as terrified of theirs as I am. This blood engine that marks every moment I'm alive. Every beat I hear is one less than I have coming.
What is a heart, but a countdown clock. Who can sleep when it's ticking?