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For the most part, Dyspnea and I have good times together. I don’t mind the silence, not really. Sometimes we sit in the park and all I hear are the birds chirping, the leaves rustling, and the measured railing of Dyspnea’s breath. “Just don’t think about it,” I tell her. “I don’t and it just comes naturally.” And then she looks at me as if I too have betrayed her and she says, ”If. . .I . . . don’t . . .think . . . about . . .it . . .I’ll . . die.” Yes, of course, I think. And she would too. How quickly those of us who can breathe forget. When I take Dyspnea into my arms, I feel her resisting me, struggling with all her strength to push me away. I assume I have taken her breath away and leave it at that. But it’s more than that. She looks at me as if I were just another man trying to destroy her and begins to cry. I leave her apartment and when I hit the night air, suddenly, I too have trouble breathing. Sympathy breathing, I think. As I head into the subway my wheezing grows worse until I can no longer separate its sound from the sound of the train heading towards me. It all seems so helpless. Should I leap? I wonder, or just buy an inhaler. Why do anything rash? Why wait till things get worse? So many questions, I think. So many questions and so little air to answer them with.

If there was anything I always thought she resented about me, it was my callous indifference about my own inability to breath. That’s just the way it is, I told her, but nothing to her was the way it was. No one thinks about breathing unless they really have to, I tried to explain. ”That’s just what’s wrong with the world,” she’d say.” And if you really loved me . . . then you’d think about it,” she added breathlessly. “Dyspnea,” I said to her. “Yes?” she asked. “What if I told you . . . that at this very moment . . . I too. . . couldn’t breath?” “Please . . . don’t . . . mock me,” she said. What did I have to do to convince her? Hook myself up to a respirator? Yes, I think. Perhaps one day, when we’re very old, in the final act of love, Dyspnea and I can unhook our respirators together.

Then again, maybe she was right. Maybe I stopped breathing just to get laid. I wouldn’t put it past me. Not the way I felt about Dyspnea. With each woman there was always a different approach. A woman called me a pig once because I wouldn’t go out with her cousin who I said was a dog. I lost my head, that’s all. But no, she kept insisting I meant what I said. Believe me more than once I have looked at myself like women must look at me and I have turned away in disgust. But still I have tried and Dyspnea knows that.

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About John Faucett

John Faucett is an American writer, currently residing in New Fairfield Connecticut. His work has previously appeared in magazines, newspapers, online journals and books world wide. His book "Along the Road Travelled" is now available from Remus House Pub


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