The first breath was my last: at the threshold I felt it seeping through the minuscule opening between jam and door as I reached for the bolt, tempering the cool air with its searing fingertips. The second breath, as the door opened, filled my lungs with a desert’s dryness, sinking to the pit of my stomach and making me want to retch. The third breath—I was at the precipice now, only steps from truly entering the world—came with raw heat striking my skin, slipping through the fibers of my clothes and tearing at my pores. The fourth, as I stepped into the sun, struck like a whip to my back, white paint onto black, a lion poised to attack. I staggered forward, my hands reaching, my eyes reduced to blurry forms of faded colors before me: is this all the world has to offer? Is this our destiny, drab and delusional? Saturated with life but devoid of the living?
The fifth breath took me to my knees, hands flailing over pavement, nails caught on stone slivers and lifted from the flesh, agonizing screams lost in a desiccated world.
Is this the emptiness borne of no inspiration? Is this my suffocation when I cannot write?