Heart Beats

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
Told from two perspectives: It all seems so perfect... All the pain, finally worth it... But in a heart beat everything is gone...

Submitted: November 23, 2011

A A A | A A A

Submitted: November 23, 2011



‘Riley, Rilee, Rileigh, Ryleigh’, I wrote on the page; Why Ryleigh? What was the deciding factor? Why go for unique when you could go for normal? Stupid thought. Of course she was never normal. Maybe she was trying to pass that on to me? Already my mother had passed on her ability to fail, push everyone away and be miserable.



I like my name; it’s a bit different. Who wants to be like all the rest, right? I know I’d choose Phoenix over Jack any day. I’ve got nothing against the name Jack, only that there are four in my class, eight in Year 11 and who knows how many in the whole school! Whereas Phoenix: None other than me in my whole class, year and school; that I know of anyway. When someone yells ‘Phoenix’ or ‘Nix’ I know they’re talking to me. I see how frustrated some guys get when they have a common name.


Question marks begin to fill the page; my life is full of them. I brush a bright red hair off the page. Dyed of course; it makes me feel like I still have choices. I notice the windows of the bus fogged up across from me. I turn sideways and see the window behind me, foggy as well. ‘Ryleigh’ I write in linky writing.


I check the time on my i-pod; ‘4:20’. Urgh 40 minutes and all I can think about is names. Ok find a good song… No, no, no, ahh! ‘Pork and Beans – Weezer’ this always makes me smile. So random and cruisy. Tapping my foot, maybe getting a sway on, I draw unwanted attention to myself.



I turn back around to my refill and add to it. Stroke after stroke, a sort of rhythm. I stop, the pattern continues. I look up to see a boy roughly my age tapping his foot. He is right in his own world.



I lift my head to flick the hair from my eyes and see her staring back at me. I’m caught off guard. I wasn’t expecting it. As our eyes meet she continues to study me, not shy at all. I glance just past her blazing red hair to see ‘Ryleigh’ written on the window. Cool name.



Sandy brown/blonde hair, all mixed in one, the most intriguing green eyes, lightly tanned skin, legs outstretched and crossed in front. I take him in then he returns my gaze. I continue to study my new subject. He turns to the window behind him and writes ‘Phoenix Marshall’ with a lightning bolt underline. 




I decide to write my own name to see what would happen. Next song… ‘Decode – Paramore’ how fitting, ‘my thoughts you can’t decode’. I swear that I-pod knows what’s going on sometimes! I watch her draw. I can’t see what it is but her face is so interesting to watch. You can see concentration, vision, precision as her left hand flicks effortlessly across the page. ‘Walker’, I read off the window.


He turns back to his I-pod. I write my last name in response and return to my page, a whole compilation now. Why am I communicating with him? Maybe he’s a decent guy but honestly where could anything possibly go? God, don’t flatter yourself Ry! ‘Course he wouldn’t go for you. The lines on my page become darker, dark like the hole my mother never came out of.


Should I speak? A picture? A smile? Her whole face changed. All I could see in her, troubled, angry, lost. Maybe it’s my fault. ‘Hi’, the moisture dribbled. How original ‘Nix you might as well give up now, you’ve got no hope. This time I decide to watch her read it and see if I can decipher her reaction. She certainly isn’t eager for conversation; a whole verse and chorus goes by. There’s something that makes me want to figure her out.


I exhale deeply, calming myself. I slowly raise my head to see if Phoenix has replied… ‘Hi’, ok… Just say it Ry. Talk to him!
“Hey” - The sound actually came out!
He pops out an earphone with a slight smile on his lips.
“I like your name”. His voice was smooth and mature.
Somehow it made me feel safe.



I didn’t expect her to speak but she did. I replied with ‘I like your name’, urgh at least I was honest. Ryleigh swept a hand over her forehead to brush that fiery hair back.
“Oh thanks, what kind of music are you into?”
My favourite topic! I began to ease up.
“Lots of different stuff but mainly heavy metal and rock but I like electro, drum ‘n’ bass and even a little R & B.”
She nodded, genuinely interested in what I was saying.



I said thanks and changed the subject to music; it’s so easy to talk about. I think Phoenix feels the same – I noticed his shoulders drop slightly when I said it. As I took in the response I had to keep my mouth from dropping open. I could’ve sworn he read my thoughts and was reciting my taste in music and not his own.





What she said next made so little sense the first time.
“Hmmm, thought stealer.”
I was completely puzzled.
“Sorry, what do you mean Ryleigh?”
Her name rolled easily off my tongue. She chuckled slightly, her eyes escaping mine.
“Just the music you’re into, how you phrased it. If I’d been asked the same thing, that would have been my answer. Thought stealer – it was a joke.”
The way she thinks is so unique. I smiled and although in complete awe managed to mention having something in common and ask about her favourite bands.  Well, I think I did.


‘Thought stealer’, well that’s how is sounded to me! Total boy brain panicked and didn’t get it but the conversation seemed to flow anyway
“Favourite bands… I could name so many! Hmm umm… Escape the Fate, Paramore, Breaking Benjamin and Rise Against would be at the top. Know any of them?”



I think Ryleigh thought I was a bit ‘duh’ for not getting the ‘thought stealer’ thing, oh well. Thankfully the conversation continued with ease anyway.
“Yeah I listen to all of them, I particularly like Breaking Benjamin and Paramore lyrics.”
Ok, so I’m not a charmer but I kept the conversation going, that’s an achievement in itself!
“Yes! Definitely I could pick so many of their lyrics I love. What have you been listening to just now?”
She seemed to lighten up now, as if a dark cloud had lifted from over her. Yet, there was still so much mystery.






Well he’s a lyrics guy. I love lyrics; hidden meanings, so many meanings – a form of poetry. As I had watched Phoenix earlier I wondered what he had been listening to so I asked.
Pork and Beans by Weezer”, he says with a cheesy grin.
Let it Bleed by The Used, Playing God and Decode by Paramore”
I nodded, they’re good songs… Let it Bleed? Well, I’d done that before.



Ryleigh seemed to disappear for a moment lost in other thoughts, I let her go and watched until her eyes became steady and focused on me once more.
Pork and Beans? Can’t say I’ve heard that one before.”
“Oh, it’s well… I don’t actually know what it’s about actually but it’s quite happy and you saw how it gets me tapping.”
I managed a nervous laugh. She smiled back.
“Yeah? Happy keeps you goin’ sometimes huh.”?
I checked my I-pod ‘4:45’ wow that went quickly only 15 minutes now. 



Interesting name for a song… “Happy”, he said. Until today I’d forgotten how that felt. I watch as he takes out his I-pod, checks the time I think – great he can’t wait to get away.
It seems like he wants to ask more but thinks better of it and instead goes for:
“Can I ask what you’re drawing and maybe see?”
When someone asks me something like this I always reply with;
‘You can ask, doesn’t mean I’ll respond.’
This time was no different.






I didn’t know what to make of her last statement, it seemed so… So troubled. I didn’t feel I had the right to ask about it so I didn’t. I changed the subject to her drawing. She was so blunt.
“You can ask doesn’t mean I’ll respond.”
“Ok, can I look at your drawing?”
Her grey/blue eyes were burning through me now.
Oh no, that doesn’t sound good.
“Are you sure, I mean it’s ok if you don’t want to show me.”



I have no problems with showing Phoenix my drawing. However I don’t like people thinking I can’t stand up for myself. I am quite capable. That’s how I’m different to her. Mum = Doormat: you suggested it, she went with it.
“I’m capable of making a decision and telling you Phoenix.”
The name although unfamiliar in my mouth felt right.


Whoa, I just got told.
“Sorry”, I said really meaning it.
It didn’t look like she was going to pass her art over so I stood and sat down beside her to see the drawing.
She paused as I stood and finished as I sat down.
There were so many images I could barely take it all in.
“Wow, you’re really good Ryleigh”
Second time I used her name, I liked it.
“Not really but thanks, I’d better put it away though I’m off on the next stop. Unless…”
She trails off completely. I wait but she doesn’t finish.



I study those green eyes and that perfect mouth as he looks at the page I’ve been working on. It seems that he likes it, for some reason that matters to me. I glance out the window and realise I have to get off at the next stop. I share that information. I was about to ask if he wants to keep the page but cut off the sentence. Too late.
“Unless…?” He prompts me
“Um well if you...” I struggle,
“Maybe wanted to keep it?”
I can’t look at him, I feel so out of place. Who am I trying to kid?



“Could I really have it?”
I was still holding the page in my hand. Ryleigh avoided eye contact and didn’t respond.
“Ryleigh?” I tried
“Yeah?” She seemed unsure now, but said, “Oh if you want it, have it”
I wanted it and had recently learnt Ryleigh Walker said just what she meant so I slip the page into my bag.
“Thanks, I’m so useless at art. You’re so amazing”
I half meant she was amazing at art and half meant she was amazing in general. I couldn’t tell if she picked up on that.




He took it. I actually feel good. Then he says I am amazing. Maybe he only meant at art but I hold onto the thought so tightly. Of course I made it seem like I hadn’t noticed. I find I have a feeling in my chest that I’ve never had before; a warm yet longing feeling. As Phoenix smiles the new feeling becomes more intense.



Ryleigh Walker: Beautiful. Not the regular mould of beauty though, you have to look for it and when you find it, it’s hard to look away. As I continue to enjoy looking at this beautiful girl across from me I can’t help but feel something is hiding in her, some dark pain. I realise the next stop is only 5 minutes away. Momentarily possessed as I said:
“Do you have a cell phone?”
She looks as though she is amused.
I have the slightest feeling Ryleigh was trying to make this as awkward and painful for me as possible, Sadly, she is doing a great job.
“What’s your number?”
I'm surprised when the words actually come out.
“What’s yours?” She shoots back.
I pull out my phone just as Ryleigh does the same.


Wow… No guy has ever asked me for my number! Now Phoenix is the only exception. I feel like... Like giggling, it’s strange. I grab my phone to add the number; I guess he did the same.
“Ladies first.”
He is more and more relaxed and confident as time goes by. I like it.
“Oh, such a gentleman”
I slowly recite my number and poke my tongue out at him. I feel free to let go and be “me” around Phoenix. I’ve spent so long hiding from that person.












I was glad I’d asked. I now had her number. I also got her tongue poked out at me, I found that amusing.
“Why thank you.”
I then mock her extremely slow speed as I give my own number.
“Got it, my stop is up here”
She turns to the window. Her hair igniting in the near evening sun. Fate. I was meant to meet this girl. My thoughts carry on to soul mates. I believe there is someone meant for every person. The bus jolts to a stop. I can’t tear my eyes from her.



We exchange numbers. I realise I have to go soon, I don’t want to… I want to talk and talk. Gazing out the window I think of how many distant and new feelings he has brought me in so little time. Phoenix Marshall means something to me, without realising… I trust him. It hit me. I haven’t trusted anyone since she betrayed me. My own mother. Gave up on life, gave up on me.


Ryleigh stood and picked up her bag, time for goodbye. I looked right into those eyes, faced the burning gaze, feeling transparent.
“I’ll text you.”
A half smile creeps across her face, eyes still locked on mine.
“Ok… Paramore lyrics; ‘You are the only exception’, goodbye Phoenix Marshall”
She is so amazing, I’m completely stunned but manage:
“Bye Amazing”
Partly a mistake but it is what I’m thinking. She smiles as she gets off the bus and begins walking. I’m in a dream-like state because of this beautiful, amazing girl. I listen to the song she just quoted. The Only Exception – Paramore. The words continue to circle in my head; ‘None of it was ever worth the risk, you are the only exception.’









He said it. He actually called me amazing, I can’t fight the tears for long but manage to hold them with a smile until I’m out of sight. I feel whole. For the first time I feel worthy. For the first time I feel my heart.

But also for the first time, I’m facing a gun. How it happens I don’t know. An unfamiliar man is standing before me, gun in hand. It’s pointed directly at me. His face, unclear except his eyes. Those eyes tell me he is on drugs. Those eyes are burned into my memory. My last memory of my mother. My ears ring, searing agony. Then nothing…



His thoughts were focused solely on Ryleigh Walker, a girl he had only so recently encountered. He didn’t hear the gunshot. Instead, music filled his ears. “Sorrow – Flyleaf” he selected. Mouthing the lyrics, ‘For just one second I felt whole, as you flew right through me.’


The small yet fatal bullet weighed down her already burdened heart, a heart heavy with pain and sorrow. It would have been a welcome end had it occurred just half an hour before; she had had nothing to live for. But now the only exception was Phoenix Marshall.







© Copyright 2018 Kyla Currie. All rights reserved.

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