tirsdag, maj 02, 2006

73 North Oxford, #4

Two springs ago I was laboring through one of what is annually two lung infections. Thank you, asthma. These spells of short breath, frequent but light coughing, and hallucinatory insomnia last between three and four weeks and usually follow either a visit to the cabin or a cold.

Currently, I’m about 11 days beyond a cold, coughing pathetically, but all in all feel pretty good. May’s arrival means I’ve started healthier living. Today I took the first run…and my lungs objected furiously. However, the fire it lit in them is taking care of the weakness right quick. Woo! See ya later, wuss lungs. Now what to do about the will?

Back to it:

So that night two years ago I was feeling especially breathless. My chest had begun to hurt and there was only so much an inhaler ever does for one. We all have our number, and I’m not talking about our SleepNumber. I wasn’t feeling particularly down that day, but for whatever reason I began to think I would suffocate if I went to sleep and I didn’t want to do that without at least a last little attempt to breathe fresh air.

I got up, crept to the porch, and sat there for an hour just watching the neighborhood. A patch of ground fog was hovering about the yards across the street. A dog was let out to piss. A dog was let back in. It was really quiet, it must have been a weekday. Not even a car engine was ticking as it cooled.

It had rained early in the evening and the air still smelled sweet. I felt really alright with it, you know.

No one was awake it seemed save for me and the girl in the apartment across the breezeway. She seemed to be making hard judgments of herself because she was just staring at herself in the mirror. I watched the neighborhood more and thought about how much I loved that second-floor apartment and screened-in porch. I was to move soon and would miss the joint. When I stood up to go back to bed, I noticed that the girl was still staring at herself, only her shoulders were a little lower now. It was really sad.

The perception of truth, I guess.

Back in bed I felt my lungs really cramping. My eyes hurt when I closed them. I thought that certainly I was going to suffocate. I hadn’t even left any fiction in a state that might make me posthumously admirable! Buckets of crap.

Slow breaths. Slow breaths. But why not now? It was going to happen eventually, wasn’t it? Tiny breaths, man. Be calm.

Suddenly a woman, vaguely green-gray and translucent, walked in. She was dressed in something of a Victorian maid’s outfit, right down to the long billowing skirt and apron. She stood with her hands folded at her waist. She stood at the edge of my bed but I couldn’t see her face for my vision seemed to end not far from my eyes, or her head was disguised behind some swarming mass of blackness.

Creepy, yes, but I still liked her. I didn’t mind her presence. It was actually quite nice. If there was anything she could have done to make me feel better, I’m sure she would have done it.

My lungs went on tightening, enough so it seemed the air was starting to crack in them, as it'd been a hard thing all along and I'd never realized it.

The woman's hands remained folded calmly. Now she bent slightly at the waist and her shoulders angled as if she was about to speak from that shrouded face. But I never heard her. I went under and slept well.
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