Too late, the boy realized that his education had been one-sided: while he had studied every minutiae of the act of inhaling, of the filling of the lungs and the swelling of the chest and the air flowing through your body to all its deepest points, he had given no thought to how it must end. The frightened rush of the air as his lungs squeezed and his chest collapsed and his eyes fluttered, he hadn't been expecting this. The air went in sweet warm milk and sunlight; it left him tar and daggers and ulcerous madness. The boy shuddered, fearing to draw in another breath. His throat wept bloody tears down into a burgundy ocean washing through his insides. His teeth spiked and quaked at the touch of such arctic air. His gums dried and flaked off; his eyes bulged and sweated; his skin parched and jaundiced, cracking and crackling him into a laminated wax paper boy.
And there he stands, by an eternal patch of late afternoon sunlight, afraid to draw another breath, for any breath drawn in must someday be let out. Mustn't it? Better not to risk another lance thrust into his side; better not to draw that sweet air down into him. Better to be eternal, as the swirling twirling dust slowly falls, resting first on one air current and then another, this one and then that one, until the single last fleck comes to rest near his right foot. Then all is truly still.