Monday, November 2, 2015

Pretending To Breathe - Short Story

                                                             (**I have no plans to write this in full. It's simply an idea. **)

"You were born not breathing - in fact, you didn't breathe until your first birthday."

That's how my mother always began the story of my birth. We would sit out together under the stars and she'd tell the tale. The tale of how I never once took a breath, or even cried when I was born. Though all the windows were shut, a breeze wrapped around both of us and mussed her hair. That's when she knew - I would never truly breathe, but I would be hungrier for the air than most people ever are... 

That first year, she told the people of the town she was off to visit her sister in the mountains, and we lived alone in a hunting cottage. That's what she tells me. 

I vaguely remember her teaching me to breathe. The steady beat of: in - out - in - out - until it became almost second nature. When I was maybe four, after we'd moved back to town, she taught me about the different kinds of breathing. We practiced panicked fast breathing, and deep gasps after running, and regular breaths for keeping up appearances. Whenever we went out of the house together, she'd gently tap me on the nose and say, "Remember to breathe, Fenn." For those first few years, I thought that was normal.

I was about six when I asked her about my father.  To her credit, she didn't lie to me and say he was some great man, off in the world... She simply told me they met one day when the King's soldiers went through town - and she never saw him again, or knew his name... 

On my tenth birthday, as she again told me the story of my birth, I asked her if she knew what I was.  I was different - I was beginning to realize how strangely different.  I felt the wind wrap around us, and I pulled it closer so that it swirled through the Asp trees. It was comforting... I understood it was something I shouldn't have been able to do.

 She didn't answer me for a long moment. Finally she said, "I'll tell you when you're older." In her tone there was no room to argue... But I could see in her eyes... she was afraid.

When I was thirteen, my mother married the baker, Tovis Keff. He is a good man, though I've never brought myself to think of him as a father.  Next month they are expecting their first child, and I am both excited and afraid for it... So much has changed in the last couple years, but I feel no closer to the answers.

Who am I? What am I?

Sometimes I go deep into the woods and let the wind roar through the trees. My mother wouldn't approve. I know that... but then, she'd probably rather I do it there, than unleash it within the town. I've done it before accidentally on a smaller scale... after that, she didn't let me out of the house for two weeks. She told everyone I was sick, until the air around me stopped dancing, and I was in control. 

Yesterday I turned fifteen... and my mother again didn't tell me what I am... She said I am better off not knowing. Tonight I sit on the edge of a cliff and look down into the darkness that the moon can't quite reach. Tomorrow I'm going to the King's Tournaments. I will become a soldier, and I will travel the continent until I find out what I am... Maybe I am dangerous, but don't I deserve to know? 

I stand up, feeling the breeze lap at my unkempt hair. The air covers my arms in goosebumps. I walk to the edge of the cliff - and jump.  The wind wraps around me, slowing the plunge, angling me gently. I let it fill my body with a thrumming ache as it howls up through the trees.

And then -

I stop pretending to breathe.

~Ophelia - Marie


  1. Gorgeous! I love it! Sharing! And saving it, because it is full, full, full of so much... muchness.


  2. This is so intriguing! What an interesting concept. I must say I want to know more and wish you'd write a sequel ;) Short stories do have sequels sometimes, right?
    Great job Lia!


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Zeal Aspiring