You Better Breathe: Part 1

The day is finally here.  Today is the debut of my short story series.  I don’t have much to say except I really hope you enjoy it.  Without any further ado here is, You Better Breathe.

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You Better Breathe: Part 1

            London sat in the hospital waiting room nervously tapping her feet against the linoleum floor while digging her nails into her arms until she broke the skin. When she noticed the speck of blood peep through her arm it sent her into an uncontrollable outburst of tears. She quickly slapped her hands over her mouth so that her screams would not ring out through the halls of the hospital. She didn’t want her family to know that she was finally beginning to face the reality that her Grandmother was…was…was…dying.

She pressed her lips together trying desperately not to screech out while continuing to hold her hands over her face. She swallowed deep. She could feel herself swaying forward like she was going to topple down face forward out of the chair.   She couldn’t stand up because her legs were too weak. She couldn’t make out what was going on in front of her because the tears blinded her sight. All she could see was the bright florescent hospital lights and specks of blue walking back and forth.

The room suddenly began to spin. She noticed more colors coming at her, red and green and yellow flashes of light zipped across the hospital halls all the while she became weaker and weaker until the colors all began to swirl together like an amusement park windmill until everything just went black.

Out of nowhere there was an ice-cold grip on her shoulders. It began to wildly shake her then she heard her uncle Robert call her name.

“LONDON…LONDON…BREATHE!”

Robert yanked her hand from over her face and she let out a loud gasp. He pulled her up out of the chair and she collapsed in his arms taking long deep breaths in and out.   Her uncle held her tight rubbing her back softly to soothe her.

“It’s going to be ok. Just calm down.” He said in the most convincing voice.

London inhaled slowly until she finally pulled herself together. Once Robert felt that she stopped gasping for air he eased out of their embrace. London sniffled and wiped her face with the sleeve of her shirt. She knew she had had a panic attack and completely stopped breathing. She use to get them all the time when she was a kid usually when she was really afraid of something, under a significant amount of pressure or nervous but she hadn’t had one in years. She didn’t know how badly her grandmother being sick had been eating her up. She wouldn’t allow herself to accept what everyone else was saying. She refused to believe that God wouldn’t answer her prayers and heel her Grandma, she knew he could so she stayed strong and she suppressed it using the tactics that her childhood therapist taught her, taking deep breaths focusing on positive things and counting in her head. And they had been working for years all until that moment.

“Why are you out in the hall by yourself? No one even knew you were here. The whole family is in the room with ma. Laerihs got here like 20 minutes ago.”

“I just didn’t want to see her like that?” London said wiping her sleeve across her running nose again.

“What are you talking about? She’s doing good today. She’s up and laughing, she’s been waiting for you.”

London felt herself calming down. He uncle always had a way of comforting her. Even though he was the world’s greatest uncle to all of his nieces and nephews they both had a secret understanding that she was his favorite.   Even her twin sister Laerihs knew but she would never admit it. If you asked Laerihs she was everyone’s favorite especially their father’s, she could do no wrong, in his eyes she was the perfect daughter.

“Now pull yourself together, you don’t want her to see you like this.” Robert said wrapping his arm around his nieces shoulder and walking her into the hospital room.

As soon as she walked through the door she saw her grandmother’s face light up.

“Where you been?” Grandma squealed out.

At the first sight of her grandmother London was cheered up. She could not believe how good she looked. She was sitting up in the big recliner chair dressed in a black and white silk wrap shirt and a flowing black skirt and she had on her black wig that looked like the hair cut Angela Basset had in the movie Waiting to Exhale. And as always her skin was flawless.

Even though her father, sister, aunt and other uncle where there she walked straight to her grandmother first and hugged and kissed her before acknowledging anyone else.

“Hi grandma.” She smiled thinking about how much she hated getting information from her sister. Laerihs just swore she knew everything because she had just finished medical school and was accepted to do her residency at Boston Medical. She was their father’s prodigy. While London was the rebellious one who decided to go the unconventional route and pursue her dancing career. And even though London had danced for Alvin Ailey, and traveled the world as a result of her dedication to her craft her father still hadn’t considered it a real career. Every opportunity he got he insisted she get a real job.

London was convinced that the reason she had panic attacks was because of all the pressure that was always on her to live up to her older sister – by three minuets. Her father would always disagree and say London was just over dramatic. But at twenty-eight years old she had been through enough to know that she was definitely not the dramatic one of the two, she never even had a chance to be because in their father’s house the world revolved around Dr. Laerihs.

“We were waiting on you. Grandma has some news and she wouldn’t tell us until you got here. I told her you were having a moment to yourself in the hallway.” Laerihs taunted while London walked around the room giving hugs to the rest of her family.

“Ok ma, what’s the news?” Robert asked beginning to become impatient with his mother’s suspiciousness.

Grandma sat up straight in the chair, crossed her arms and spoke up in her most authoritative voice, “I’m not taking any chemo or radiation. I am getting out of this hospital and I am going to live my last days at home.”

Everyone in the room’s mouth dropped open as grandma sat straight up looking us all in the faces waiting for one of us to object to her demands. When no one could muster up the courage to disagree with her she slowly sat back in the chair, grabbed the monitor that was sitting beside her and hit the button to call for her nurse.

“How can I help you?” The nurse’s sweet voice rang through the intercom.

“Honey come bring me some sherbet.” Grandma instructed then sat back and rolled her eyes daring anyone to question her decision.

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