by Linda Rettstatt
I felt the slight flutter and put a hand over my left breast, waiting for my heart to regulate. The arrhythmia had been happening more often, but it always settled down. This time, it didn’t. Instead, an invisible hand held my chest in a vise-like grip. I clutched the edge of my desk, gasping for air.
Just then, my secretary entered my office. “Jessica, are you all right?”
I shook my head and sank into a chair. “I…can’t…breathe.”
“Omigod.” She snatched up the phone and dialed 911. I vaguely recall hearing, “emergency…can’t breathe…heart attack.”
I woke to a flurry of activity all around me. A mask covered my nose and mouth, forcing oxygen into my lungs. An IV tube ran from my right arm up to a bottle hanging above my head.
A nurse in blue scrubs loomed over me. “Miss Harper, you’re in the emergency room. You’ve suffered another heart attack. We’re going to take good care of you.”
The irony struck me--a heart attack--on Valentine’s Day. I nodded and closed my eyes, wondering if my secretary thought to call Alex or my sister, Gail. I heard bits of the discussion--major damage--surgery--transplant. I’d been on the transplant list for some time, but lately everything seemed to be under control. Sure, I’d been tired and got out of breath, but a short rest and medications seemed to take care of it.
What is that ringing sound? Where’s Alex? I need to see Alex. We have dinner plans.
“Miss Harper? Can you open your eyes for me?”
I struggled to lift my eyelids and peered into the face of a nurse still wearing an operating room cap.
“Don’t try to talk. You’ve had surgery. You’re very lucky that we got a heart. I’ll let your sister know you’re awake.”
Gail rushed to the side of my bed, her hand searching for a part of me that didn’t have a tube or sensor attached. Her fingers felt warm on my arm. “Hey. You sure scared me this time.” Tears rolled down her face.
I wanted to ask about Alex, but the ventilator tube prevented me from speaking. Where is he? I looked beyond Gail, through the glass window and into the hall. Alex’s brother and his parents were there. He must be here, too.
Gail’s eyes followed my gaze. She walked to the window and closed the blinds. “You need to rest.” She choked back a sob as she turned to leave the room.
I lost all sense of time as the edges of day and night blurred into one another. Alex, where are you?
As soon as the vent tube was removed and I could speak, I croaked to the nurse, “Is anyone waiting to see me?”
“Your sister. I’ll have her come in.”
I saw Gail wipe her eyes and blow her nose before entering the room. “Jess, how are you feeling?”
“Alex?” I rasped.
Her face paled and she squeezed my hand. “Honey, there was an accident.”
My new heart sped up. “Where is he?”
Her chin quivered, and she bit her lip. Placing her hand gently over my heart, she whispered, “He’s right here.”
About the Author: I am a published author of three novels of women's fiction with romantic elements. My short stories have garnered awards from Writer's Digest and Pennwriters, Inc. My books are published by Wings ePress, Inc. Excerpts and reviews of my work can be found on my web site: http://www.geocities.com/lindarettstatt