“How was your winter break?” He asked me as he turned a right on a small street. Dennis was driving me to the park. He checked his rearview mirror and saw piercing eyes stare back. He looked at the stubble on his chin and moved his long hair out of his face.
“A lot has happened.” I glanced at him and expected an exchange, but there wasn’t. Dennis continued looking holding the wheel of the car with only his right hand. His left hand sat idly on his lap.
Whispers of a familiar song came on the radio. The beat was louder than the words. The wind also whispered familiar lyrics outside. Trees bumped branches against each other. Leaves shuffled on the floor of cemented sidewalks. People took brisk walks with one another and gossiped about neighbors and friends.
“So, are you going to tell me or not?” Dennis spoke, but his voice was muffled by my thoughts and the noises outside my open window.
“See this,” I tapped on the face of my watch. It was made out of stainless steel with a black face. White and silver gears decorated the face. The silver hands gleamed like gold with the dim light shining on it. Dennis stared at it with amusement, almost hypnotized for a moment. He looked at his own reflection. Deeper and deeper. He lost himself within the watch.
“What about it?” He snapped back into reality and put both hands on the wheel.
“It’s what started it all.” I gave him a ghostly smile.
“Started what?” Dennis flipped on the headlights because it was getting dark outside. The stars gleamed and reminded me of lighthouses. The streets were crowded with cars, but we didn’t really care. We just sat there waiting for traffic to budge and talked.
“This watch was the beginning of my change. A girl named Amy gave it to me. She’s like my long lost sister.”
“How did it change you? It looks pretty cheap to me.” Dennis chuckled as he examined his own expensive watch in comparison to my own.
“This watch is worth way more to me than your watch. I can feel the heartbeat of a friend inside it, instead of ticking. I hear the love that was given to me. Every time it ticked with a beat, I remembered the importance of my friendship with her. And that friendship is what made me realize that I had to change.” I started to close my window as the chilly air blew noises into the car. I didn’t want distractions at this moment; I wanted to get my thoughts clearly into Dennis’s mind.
“I decided, after receiving this watch, to start more meaningful friendships with people. My New Years’ resolution this year was to make a positive impression on my friends. I planned out this year that I wouldn’t stay home and be cooped up in my room; I was going to spend it creating memories.”
“So what did you do with your friends?”
“Anything they wanted: Chill at the mall, ice skating, paintball, and road trips with no destinations in mind. Whatever they wanted to do, I was down for the experience.”
“Is that why you’re going to the park with me?” Dennis watched me for my reaction.
“Well, you did invite me.” I smiled as I looked out at the dark world that was lit up by streetlights and the colors of urban life. My life became meaningful not with a tick, but with the beat of a heart. I put my right hand over my chest and felt how it coincided with Amy’s heart inside the watch.
Dennis focused on his driving.
I closed my eyes and listened.
Tick. Tock. Ba-bump.