The Hesitant Breath

Photo by Chelsea Gates on Unsplash

Sometimes the need to breathe overwhelms. Our throats constrict, tongues swell, eyes bulge like bullfrogs. A blue sky darkens to ocean, the world reversed, our bodies upside down. Not even the earth offers a steadying reassurance, volatile like an undulating sea. We drown, eyes open. We gasp for air. The worst of it? There’s no rational explanation. Just another day or night in a life of many. Just another second on this road called life. 

These moments are fleeting, though occasionally, they linger. But the body always remembers what to do, after all, without a predisposition for breathing, why even have lungs? 

Breathing is what we do when we close our eyes. We leave the body to do its thing as we dream of better. Unlike the accordion that requires a good squeeze, or the bike pump that demands manipulation, our bodies do not. So, why do we need so many teachers to help us? The answer is simple: We don’t. 

Yet we have apps to follow and sites to see, gurus to advise, and leotarded superstars to offer salvation. If only we could breathe like them. If only we could do it right.

And we try. We try so very hard to understand. To appreciate. To live the dream. If we do it right, who knows, perhaps Death will never take us. 

Death, the dark force behind it all. The one who wants us to fail, to gasp, flounder, capitulate. He cares not that we breathe or that we might only sometimes breathe, just that one day we won’t. Even thinking about it makes our chests constrict, breaths shorten, noses block. As dogs before a desert without master or chain, free to explore, but scared to stray far from the puddle at their feet, we hesitate. Death smiles. 

Hesitation is his dark foot in the door. It is doubt. It is a taster. That instant of will our breaths return, even when knowing they should. So, we regather like they’ve taught us. We control ourselves with the skill a baby would admire. We breathe, deep and long, our cheeks puffed out and brows sweating. 

They teach us to listen to our breaths and from there ourselves. The body will know. The body will calm itself. But in this calmness, this cosmic realignment, we hear what our breaths have immersed. An app shuts down. A website fails. A guru collapses to the ground quite dead. The leotard splits to howls of universal derision. 

We breathe because we want to. We breathe because we must. But one day in the not-so-distant future, we won’t. On that day, Death can take us. On that day, our accordions shall not require being played. I, for one, shall welcome it, as I hope will you. 

The End — Almost.


Thank you for reading
Richard

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed..

4 thoughts on “The Hesitant Breath

  1. We breathe because we must.

    This line stood out to me as profoundly poetic. There’s so much here…sadness yet beauty and breath. We breathe because we must.

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