A Sharp Intake Of Breath
I’d been going there each day at the same time for years. The light would stream through the bars on the window and onto the floor, and there was a kind of peaceful beauty to the space that I liked.
Of course, I also went elsewhere. I’m a believer in not putting all eggs into one basket and it’s the same with Catching A Breath – some days even the most reliable scenes fail you. There’s a tree on Taylor Avenue that’s been pretty good of late and in the toilet in the coffee shop down that same road, on the corner with Green Street there’s an artex ceiling with a hole in it. And of course you can hang around in shadows or hold out for a Blue-Sky Fix but how often do those happen? The clue is in the name! Ha!
But I had a feeling about this place. It used to be a storeroom for the machines when the front of the building was still an amusement arcade. In fact until recently there were a few spots in there that you could still Catch One. Anyway, I kept going back there at the same time each day, unless the weather was bad (for obvious reasons), hoping to get a break. Sometimes there’d be some folks there, usually they were looking for something too but they rarely saw me.
This particular day I was already there when they unlocked the padlock and pulled up the shutters at the front. I could hear the agent talking them through the place, what it had been used for in the past and what some of the others had been considering using it for. You could hear in his voice that he wasn’t really bothered, but he was a professional.
And then I heard the children’s voices and The Breath caught in my throat. The children always saw. Damn this expectation! Raising up my pulse!!
They were coming through the main room, I could hear the woman’s heels against the floor and three children laughing as the agent led them and the two other men into the storeroom. I tried to freeze exactly where I was, practically choking on my Next Breath, willing some kind of control over their eyes and attention even though I knew it doesn’t work like that, waiting for them to catch sight of me.
“Ma!” the girl cried, “do you see him?!” The adults turned and the seven of them looked directly at me, and the seven of them saw me at the same time.
And oh! The sweet release as I finally Breathed again!! And the Cool Air filled my chest with a brightness of Light, of Life. And the world of The Living rushed into me through their sight and I felt The Warmth of the white angels smiling down on me like hot soup sliding down my throat and into my lungs. Oh Breath how I miss you so!
The lady laughed. “Ooh look! He has a long straight nose like the Roman emperor in your book, but he’s wearing glasses! What do you think kids, is that a good sign?”
The agent smiled a genuine smile. “I forget how nice that is, seeing a face in something.”
Not as nice as it is for us, I thought. A taste of Life as we once had. Oh sweet, sweet Breath.
inspired by the image here.