Take My Pulse

Entry by: Alobear

3rd September 2015
Take My Pulse

“Does my pulse seem fast to you? It feels like my heart is trying to beat its way out of my chest.”

An arm is thrust unceremoniously into my face, wrist positioned right in front of my nose.

I push it away, exasperated.

“Of course it does.”

“Why of course?” The tone is alarmed.

I sigh dramatically, realising I have erred in my attempt to diffuse the situation.

“Because,” I say, emphasising each word slowly and carefully, “you're stressing about it. Worrying about your pulse being fast is inevitably going to speed it up. That's why they take your blood pressure twice at the doctor's – to give you a chance to calm down.”

The arm is thrust back, almost hitting me in its urgency.

“Take it.”

“Take what? Your arm? And what – beat you to death with it?” I grin to myself at the image. “That would be a mercy to everyone.”

“Take my pulse!” There is no suggestion that my levity has reached its mark.

Rolling my eyes, I take hold of the thin wrist and dutifully count while the second hand on my watch ticks round. I can feel anxious eyes trained on my face as the silence stretches on.

After a minute, I release the arm and place it gently in its owner's lap.


“92,” I say, reluctantly. This is only going to fan the fire.

“That's really fast, isn't it?”

“Not that fast,” I say, scrabbling for reassurance. “Experts say you don't hit really good calorie consumption at the gym until your heart rate is over 120.”

“But I'm not at the gym.” Unfortunately, my companion's state of mind is not completely beyond reason, it seems. “I'm sitting in a car. So, 92 is pretty fast.”

“I guess.”

“So, what do you think it means?” That's the question I've been dreading.

I keep my voice calm and matter of fact.

“You're naturally excited, which is going to speed up your heart rate a bit. And then you're worried about being worried, like I said, so that just creates a vicious circle. Try taking a couple of deep breaths and thinking about the ocean, or something.”

“But why am I worried about being worried?” I'm not going to get the subject dropped that easily. “Don't you think that's a bit – you know – worrying?”

I turn in my seat and make proper eye contact. It's time to get serious.

“No, I don't – and you don't, either.” I take the hand that's still lying limply where I put it, and rub my fingers across the palm. “I know you're anxious, but that's just a natural, human response. You've been waiting a long time for this, and you want it to go well, so it's understandable that you're worried about what could go wrong. But, if you look past all the surface stress and unimportant issues, you know what you're doing is right and that everything is going to be fine in the long run. Don't you?”

There is a long moment of silence; wide eyes search my face and find only certainty and love in my expression, because that is all I feel. The car slows to a halt and suddenly we have arrived at our destination. I open my car door and walk round to the other side, offering a hand. I help my companion out of the car, and we stand face to face.

“Don't you?” I say again.

Then, at last, a radiant smile spreads across her features, and she breathes, “Yes!” She takes my arm and turns to face her future. “Thanks, dad.”

Heart thumping, I escort my daughter into the church.