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Waiting To Breathe
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Waiting To Breathe
This is a short story that combines many elements of the human condition. I believe that each of us, at least in part, has felt this way at one time or another.
[807 words]
Literary Fiction
Hefley Beau
[July 2011]
Waiting To Breathe
Hefley Beau

Waiting to breathe

How many times have I sat here, mothers at play with their children, sometimes cuddling them, sometimes scolding them but always with a tenderness and love that never ceases to astonish me.
I watch fathers playing with their sons and stare in awe at the bond that I see growing almost before my eyes. Someday, it will all matter, someday that will be the difference between “We’re on the way dad and the kids can’t wait to see you”, and the cold, empty silence of one more forgotten holiday.
I look up, the sun gives off a radiant glow against the azure sky above yet no warmth touches me, I am cold and empty and I can’t tell you why. I smile each day at those around me but it never quite reaches my eyes, I pass pleasantries when necessary but wonder if they sound as empty as I feel.

Once, there lived a little boy full of life and desire, one who embraced each day as a new adventure, who imagined that with enough hope and belief that he could do anything. There are days when I can almost remember him but just as I reach out to touch him, the look of joy on his face turns to sorrow and he slips quickly away, leaving me feeling lost and all alone.

 I have come to realize that the little boy of my dreams is just that, a dream, he doesn’t exist and quite possibly, never did. He was just someone I made up to give me a reason, no matter how small, to rise each morning and get through each day. I hang my head and stand to leave, not sad, not happy, just empty.

 The walk back to my apartment is a short one but I take my time, stopping to talk to the people that are most familiar to me, smelling the flowers in the rose cart that Rosario pushes up and down my block each and every day, he doesn’t sell many of them but I believe that he loves what he does and the interaction with the many people who live on this particular block and I discover that I do have an emotion, envy.

 I climb the three flights of stairs to my one room apartment and slowly turn the key, listening as each tumbler falls into place, then I open the door and walk in. it is dim and it is quiet, as empty as the man who occupies it. Walking past the foyer, I glimpse a picture sitting in a metal frame and stop, frozen in my tracks.

There before me sits the little boy of my dreams, it is a Christmas scene and he is smiling. His red sweater is bright against his pale skin and you can tell that he is happy. Memories come rushing back then, it was Christmas and mom and dad had taken me to the mall, we had spent the day shopping, mom gaily chatting with anyone who would listen and dad rolling his eyes and smiling while nudging me and giving me a “what can you do?” look. It was perfect, the whole world lay before me and life was as good as it would ever be.
We walked around for what seemed like forever until my legs began to protest in the form of tiny cramps, not bad, just enough to irritate and for my parents to notice.
“Better wrap it up Lucille”, I heard my father say. “I think our little man has had just about enough for one day.” Looking down at me she saw my look of fatigue and smiled,” of course you’re right dear,” she said. “Maybe we have had enough for one day.”

 My father picked me up and carried me to the car as I snuggled deeper into his arms and marveled at his strength. “Someday I’ll be just like him,” I thought sleepily to myself. It was cold outside and had begun to snow again and the heater in the car felt good, I was asleep in no time. I awoke to the sound of horns and screeching tires, there was a loud thump and then the sound of metal against metal and then I heard my mother scream……..

Looking at the picture once more, I realize that I don’t know that little boy at all, it was picture that came with the frame and I really should switch it out for a real one someday. Sitting my keys down on the foyer, I begin to whistle softly to myself and walk into the living room. I stand there looking at my sparse furnishings and try to force myself to feel something. After a short time I realize that I cannot and gently sit down on the sofa.

 It’s ok, maybe tomorrow.


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© 2011 Hefley Beau
July 2011

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