A Billion Breaths

Asphalt Road Under Cloudy Sky

I saw the microfiction challenge from Finance Your Fire and thought it looked fun!

“How many breaths do you take in a minute?”

The nurse looks across at Ama, surprised by the odd question. His eyes flicker up to the sky as his brows furrow and he shrugs.

“Let’s say it takes… 5 seconds to complete one breath. That’s 12 in a minute. 720 in an hour.” Ama pauses to calculate some more, still holding her ventilator mask aside in her hand. “Let’s say 15,000 in a day and 4,500,000 a year.”

The nurse does not respond, busy scribbling something inside a notebook.

“Maybe I am reaching my billionth breath. Maybe that will be my last. A billion. I like that idea.” She replaces her mask and settles back down. Her breathing deepens, as though she is falling asleep.

In a way, she is.

Her eyes snap open and Ama sits up and pushes herself off the bed. She stretches like she has not stretched for an eternity and peers down at what she has left behind on the bed. Her body, empty of her now, lies motionless and calm amongst the crinkled bed sheets.

She feels light. She feels energetic. She feels she could dance forever.

But she doesn’t know what to do now. She turns and makes eye contact with the nurse, who has been quietly and bemusedly watching Ama take in her new reality.

Ah. You’re rather young, aren’t you?” She raises an eyebrow.

The Angel of Death grins sheepishly. “That’s not usually the first question I get. And I’m older than I look, Ama.”

“What’s your name?”

He pauses and cocks his head slightly. Another unexpected question.

“I’ve been called Ezrael before. That’ll work.”

“Okay. Ezrael, as long as where we’re going hasn’t got fire of any sort, I’ll follow your lead!”

Ezrael smiles indulgently. “No need to worry about that Ama. Let’s go.”

He holds out a hand and, as Ama reaches out to take it, Ezrael adds: “You hit your billionth breath years ago Ama. Too much running around!”

They start to fade away, leaving only the echo of Ama’s hooting laughter behind.

4 thoughts on “A Billion Breaths

  1. earlyretireman May 9, 2019 / 7:12 am

    That’s a wonderful, hair-raising little piece of microfiction! Enjoyed reading it 🙂

    And thanks for joining!

    Liked by 1 person

    • A Black Penny May 10, 2019 / 5:27 pm

      Thank you for hosting this challenge – it was such a good idea and I love(d) reading the others too! It’s been great seeing the different directions everyone has gone in too!


  2. Pingback: FIRE #microfiction

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