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Heart Palpitations

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Ever since Brock was 6 years old he’d been visiting the doctor’s clinic monthly, it wasn’t anything serious he just had an irregular heartbeat. For 6 year old Brock, this was the worst. He couldn’t participate in any extreme sports unless he wanted to damage his already unusual heart, which meant he couldn’t join any clubs at school or even take part in PE. Unfortunately, he was bullied for this; the other kids thought he was given special treatment when he didn’t have to participate in anything strenuous so for the majority of his childhood, Brock was alone.

Once he’d entered high school, PE wasn’t mandatory for a large number of students so Brock felt a little more at ease. Every month he’d still visit the doctors so they could check that his heart was okay and nothing had changed, Brock didn’t react as positively as his mother did when they were told nothing was different because he wanted different. He wanted to play sports and be accepted by his peers at school and to actually have friends because despite everything, Brock was still alone.

That was then though and this is now. Brock was an adult now, deep into his life at 30 years old and still doing the same routine from years ago. He was a Youtuber, specifically a gamer, and played games with a group of his online friends for other people’s entertainment and earned money for it; Brock was happy with the life he had now. The only problem was that Brock’s heart never changed over the last 24 years and this limited him. He was encouraged at college to join a club and stick with it to help in the future but Brock had managed to pick a college where sport was everything, life liked to play cruel tricks on the poor Youtuber. However, it had played to his advantage because instead of joining a sports team, he found computer club filled with avid gamers and budding Youtuber stars. Brock also met his lifelong friend Jonathon in that club and he had never been more grateful for a damaged heart.

Brock sat quietly in his room, editing a new video that he and Jon had recorded together. It was a simple Mortal Combat video that wasn’t very long but Brock found himself struggling to finish it. He glanced at the clock on his wall which read 6:15pm and sighed heavily; he was hungry but didn’t want to cook and still needed to finish this stupid video. Sighing once again, albeit a little raspier than before, Brock stood from his chair and walked out of his room passing Jon who was slouched on the sofa, on his way to the kitchen. There was no door between the two rooms so when Jon began a conversation with Brock, he could hear clearly without turning around.

“Moo Moo.” Jon cooed that annoying nickname.

“Yes?” Brock replied, busying himself by scavenging through their cupboards.

“You got a call today.”

“From who?” He’d found a packet of dried mango and checked the use by date, rubbing his chest gently.

“Doctors. Said you got an appointment on Thursday.” It was still in date but why the hell did they have dried mango? Brock opened the packet and ate them regardless.

“Oh, okay.” He wandered towards to living room where Jon was and leaned against the wall. Brock had forgotten about his appointment and really wasn’t looking forward to being told that his heart still hadn’t changed.

“Don’t forget like last time.” Jon teased. Brock plucked a piece of mango from the bag and lifted his arm to throw it but suddenly broke out into a fit of violent coughs. Jon watched Brock thinking it was normal until the older doubled over and gripped his chest.

“Brock?!” Jon rubbed smooth circles across Brock’s back until the coughs had died down to calmer ones. He stood up, shuffling into the kitchen and grabbing a water bottle from the fridge passing it to Brock who was breathing heavily.

“Fuck Thursday, we’re going now.” Jon grabbed his jacket and keys then picked up Brock who remained silent and obedient, Jon didn’t like it when the older was like that; it meant something was up. The two climbed into Jon’s car, Brock still taking small sips of his water and letting out gasping coughs occasionally. Brock usually started getting bad coughs whenever it was close to his monthly check-up but this was definitely different, never before had they been so violent that he’d collapse because of them. Jon tapped impatiently on the steering wheel, speeding off as soon as the light turned green.

By the time they’d reached the clinic, Brock was quieter now and the coughs had stopped coming but the rasping breaths he took didn’t go away. Jon rushed inside followed by an unsteady Brock and spoke with the woman at the reception, explaining the situation. They both turned to look at Brock but he didn’t really care, his lungs felt hot and his heart felt cold.

The two barely waited five minutes before Brock’s name was called out by a woman in pink scrubs. Brock stood up slowly, turning back to flash a reassuring smile at Jon since he knew the younger was panicking before following the woman. She directed him down a white corridor and into a small empty room; Brock sat in the empty seat by the desk, breathing deeply.

A moment later, a young Asian man dressed in a doctor’s coat entered the room and sat in the seat opposite Brock. “Hi Brock, I’m Doctor Fong.” Brock felt the doctor studying him carefully, probably already trying to diagnose him.

“I heard that you were at home and...” The doctor paused to look at his notes, “You suddenly began to have violent coughs, is that right?” Gosh this doctor was pretty. Brock watched as his fingers slipped across the papers he was reading, seeming delicate but rough at the same time; he realised he’d been asked a question. Brock nodded quickly, blushing faintly at the fact that he’d been staring at the doctor’s fingers.

“Okay. I want to listen to your heart if that’s okay.” His voice was silky; he really belonged in a hospital or as customer service- Brock shivered at that thought. He nodded again, afraid that if he spoke he’d start coughing.

“Can you take your shirt off for me?” Doctor Fong was staring patiently at Brock, stethoscope in hand. Brock blushed again and found the confidence to use his voice, although it came out a little raspy.

“We haven’t even been on a date yet and you’re already trying to get me naked?” Brock cringed at how awful he sounded but it was worth the blush that suddenly appeared on the doctor’s cheeks. Brock giggled slightly and ended up breaking into a coughing fit again, Doctor Fong was immediately at Brock’s side straightening his back to help clear his airways. Eventually the coughing was silenced and the doctor stared unimpressed at Brock.

“Was that flirt really worth coughing up your lungs for?” Brock would’ve shrivelled away from Doctor Fong’s stare if it wasn’t for the small grin he could see pulling at the man’s lips. Surprisingly, Brock had discovered that Fong was weak to flirtation, interesting.

“For a handsome guy like you, definitely.” Brock smiled and even winked at the man who once again, blushed. “Just take your shirt off...” He mumbled and Brock did as he was told, peeling his shirt from his torso and shivering at the cold air that hit him. Although it wasn’t as cold as the stethoscope that Doctor Fong pressed to Brock’s skin and he yelped, pulling away quickly. The doctor just laughed at him.

“That was cold Doc!” Brock croaked. “Oops, guess I should’ve warned you.” He paused again, staring at Brock’s face then his chest making him feel a little self conscious. “And call me Evan.” The shocking cold metal of the stethoscope was pressed against Brock’s chest again so quickly that he barely caught the mumble from the doctor. ‘Evan huh?’ A cheeky grin spread across Brock’s face as he sat, letting Evan listen to his heart and lungs.

When Evan pulled away, a strange look covered his face, “You know that you have an irregular heartbeat right?” Brock cast his eyes to his feet and nodded, once again reminded of the fact that he was broken. He heard Evan sigh and felt him place his hand over his heart, startling Brock.

“It’s called Arrhythmia and honestly Brock, it’s not unusual.” Brock looked up into Evan’s eyes expecting to see pity in them but instead they were filled with something Brock couldn’t put his finger on. They continued to stare into each other’s eyes until Brock felt heat creep across his cheeks and down his neck, Evan must’ve noticed this because he pulled his hand back and cleared his throat.

“Um. Y-Your heart is fine, as are your lungs. It was just your heart beating more irregularly than usual and the raspy breathing is just your lungs recovering. So, you’re all good!” Evan spoke quickly and relayed important information to Brock but he wasn’t listening, he could only think about how cold the spot on his chest felt now that Evan’s hand was gone.

He radiated so much heat it set all of Brock on fire and he didn’t realise he was speaking until it was too late, “You make my heart feel warm.” Brock blinked slowly before covering his mouth and blushing hard, had he really just said that out loud? He chanced a glance at Evan and saw his jaw slightly dropped.

“Thanks?” Evan blushed and turned away from Brock, writing something onto his papers. Brock took this as an opportunity to put his shirt back on and to keep his mouth shut, this man was his doctor and he’d only just met him less than 10 minutes ago. When Evan turned around to face Brock again, the older stood up and smiled shyly. Evan handed him a piece of paper that had information about his prescription medication before staring quietly at Brock, who shifted uncomfortably.

There was a silent pause and Evan smiled, grabbing Brock’s hand and placing it over his heart, “Next time you flirt with me, don’t almost kill yourself doing it.” Brock giggled and concentrated on the heartbeat against his hand, his smile turning into a smirk. “Next time?” He teased, revelling in the smile Evan returned.

“But not in my clinic.” Evan said sternly. He released Brock’s hand but Brock made no move to pull it away so Evan leaned forward and pressed his lips to Brock’s cheek, slipping his hand inside the other’s pocket before pulling away. The two stared at each other and blushed before Brock pulled back and slipped out of the room, casting one last glance at Evan.

When he walked back into the waiting area, Jon was quick to pounce on him bombarding him with questions and worry. Brock shushed him and explained what had happened, leaving out the details he didn’t need to know. The two made their way out of the clinic, Brock burrowing his hands into his jacket pocket only to feel something inside; he pulled out a small strip of paper with a series of numbers on it and smiled softly.

“What’s that?” Jon asked, peering at Brock’s face. But Brock continued smiling, walking with a small skip in his step and for once looking forward to his next doctor's appointment.