Sunday, September 23, 2012


It means ‘breath.” Something most of us take for granted every day. Including me, until this past week, when I have had a nasty bout of pneumonia.

Today, write about breath. Someone’s last, perhaps. Or someone’s first. Or that first fresh breath of spring, or fall. Or write about taking a breather – a timeout, a hiatus, or a sabbatical. Or get silly, and write about someone with the worst halitosis ever.  

Take a breath, get writing, and share it here. 


  1. First of all, De, I want to say that I'm glad you're feeling so much better.

    Now, I did this one a few minutes ago. I don't have a clue where it came from. It was just there on the word breath. Hope you like it.


    I could feel it, brushing across my bare neck; his breath, hot and pulsing, smelling of raw meat and bringing with it a mental image of torn flesh, dripping with once living blood.

    Movement would be stupid. The simplest flicker on my part would bring my end. Momma didn’t raise no stupid kids.

    A snort deposited a glob of snot onto my exposed skin. Cringing was not allowed. A whisker poked; once, twice.

    Would he taste me to see if I was ripe? Would he snap my neck as easily as grandma did her chickens when I was a kid?

    I never knew how insidious unrelenting fear married to waiting hypoxia could be. I never knew that I relished life as much as I did in that moment. I never knew I had a guardian angel until I laid face down in moss with a grizzly standing over me.

    The music began in the distance, a mere imagining of notes, ethereal and tingling. With gradual rising volume the music flowed through the branches and along the ground, forcing me to wonder as to Heaven’s proximity. Prayer seemed appropriate.

    Voices as sweet and gentle as a child’s soft laughter added to the air’s symphony. I felt a lessening of focus on the bear’s part. His attention seemed split between the meal in front of him, and a call elsewhere. I didn’t mind the distraction.

    The grizzly’s massive paw planted itself in the small of my back. Possession being nine tenths of the law in most places, he was claiming me. His actions spoke volumes.

    A ripple of muscle tension quivered in the paw marking me as lunch. Celestial melody moved closer, rose in intensity. The urge to turn my head, to witness this event, begged for my cooperation. I refused.

    Solo performances such as I heard in those few moments must be experienced to be believed.
    Descriptions of purity fail to match that reality. What little shallow breathing I’d been doing under a guise of playing dead could not compare with the breathlessness imposed on me by the exquisite beauty, love, and joy that passed through every fiber of my being.

    No words passed above my head that I could understand, nor did I think to try. I knew only that my nemesis retreated, leaving me in peace. I felt the warmth return to my body. I felt protected with a completeness I’d never before known.

    I can only speculate whether my rescuer was angel or not. By the time I turned my head and moved to a position where I could look in that direction, only a sunbeam remained as evidence of my encounter with the divine. Of that I was sure.

    How, you ask? The sunbeam came from the east at 5:30 p.m. to cast its shadow across the place where the bear had stood its ground. I wept.

    I will be posting this on Two Voices, One Song tomorrow for any who want to drop by and see what else is going on in that direction. Please feel welcome.

    1. Claudsy! This is so gripping! I'm so glad the prompt sent you in this direction! Wonderful!

      And thank you; I am finally, finally feeling better. Hoping to get fully back to normal this week.

    2. Hahaha .... Bear Gripping! doesn't matter where it came from - fun to read here! :)

    3. Thank you, De and Pearl. I'm glad you enjoyed it. It came as much as a surprise to me as to anyone reading it. That seems to be happening a lot to me lately.

      Thanks again, both of you.

  2. Quite deeply moving, evoked personal memories of my own - which I believe all truly good writing does at some level ... Powerful :)

  3. He had been as they, the cops that is, say, "on the job." What was left of his hair was brilliant as snow on a mountain ski slope his eyes - now closed, ice blue when they opened, and he growled to the young cops moving him onto a gurney "What the hell are you doing?" with just enough of the Emerald Isle left to him by his mother ninety-one years ago. And then, they shut - the eyes that is, and the young officers, smooth faced and soft spoken to the wife, who fluttered her hands as though she would, if she could, take off down the apartment hallway and out into the winter blue sky. The wife, blathering senselessly, as wives often do when faced with this stillness, these closed eyes. They, those soft-faced young cops, found her coat, and waited with this just about ancient one of their own on the gurney, balancing him patiently, as her hands shook, and she locked each of her four locks. In the elevator they kept their eyes lowered, unless they were soft smiling at her. The old guy's eyes were still closed, the oxygen tank hissed like radiators in a first apartment, the old guys chest moved up and down, down and up as they all descended. The wife ran out into the lobby first, still fluttering those arms of hers, running red chipped fingernails through her dyed Lucy red hair - and the young cops, checked the locks on the wheels of the gurney and straightened the sheet - and noticed with a quick mutual look that there was no more breathing going on. They turned up the oxygen and sighed along with it as the old guy coughed and they walked through the front doors of the apartment bumping him only slightly. "Watch it!" the old fellow shouted an order, "I ain't dead yet." And that is why, if you saw two young cops , and a woman of an older than a certain age on a frigid winter street, lifting a body into an NYPD ambulance, it wasn't disrespect at all that had them laughing.

    1. Good story, Pearl, though I have to admit that I did't expect that ending at all, at all.

      I would have been with the cops on this one. LOL

    2. Pearl, LOVE this. A much needed laugh, indeed, for all - including me.
      Love this line, especially: "fluttered her hands as though she would, if she could, take off down the apartment hallway and out into the winter blue sky."


  4. Walt, you returned me to many of those places I've sat in vigil for the hearing of one last breath. While never easy, and some harder than others, there is for ones like me a learning that takes places at such a bedside.

    You spoke of that learning in quiet, gentle words. You expressed what many will never have the opportunity to experience or feel, and as always, you did it exceptionally well.

    Even through tears, I'm glad you wrote this piece, this reminder.

  5. Oh, Walt. This is beautiful, and touching, and perfect. A dear friend lost the fight to stomach cancer quite a few years ago, and so much of the last days were so very like this. Just perfect.

  6. Thanks De. It was just how it felt. Perfect. (J.P. are my middle initials)

  7. Ah thank you Claudsy and De... based loosely on my grandfather and "Bubby" my grandmother - although the actual stories are truly more comical :)