dan (verbalkint) wrote,

the lost art of breathing

There was once a young boy who learned how to breathe. You may think you know how to breathe, my friend, but you do not. There is an art to breathing, like everything else in this beautiful world. All things can be done with art, if you only care to learn. And this boy, all he wanted was to learn to breathe with art. It took him 7 months and 3 days of concentrated effort, which was all redeemed with that one glorious swirling crystalline inhalation. The air swept up, setting columns of dust to twirling in the late afternoon sunlight streaming through his bedroom window, swept up and annihilated him. For 11 seconds he was not aware of any sensation, any thought, only of the joy of that perfect breath. He held it until his lungs distended and bled, and only then did he exhale.
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.
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