Seven hours of sleep, and the alarm sounds.
Seven hours of sound sleep. I could keep sleeping.
I press snooze.
Anticipating the snooze alarm.
I do not keep sleeping.
I could sleep like this every night.
Coughing gets in my way. It feels like a month of coughing, my abs punching my lungs to expel air at random times, at inconsistent forces. Attempting to tame a lingering tickle in my throat.
Coughing annoys, distracts. Steals sleep. I feel the tickle right now.
Breathing has been shallow lately in this past month. This morning I exhale deeply, and my ribs tighten. Sometimes the spaces between the ribs cramp. Like I have been running and I get a stitch in my side, but I cannot run through the pain until it subsides.
I am not running. I just lie here. Not sleeping.
But the cramps. Am I out of oxygen? Has it been so long since inflating my lungs through deep, meditative breaths? Have my ribs forgotten how to expand, to compensate for my body’s deficit in breathable air?
What is breathable?
Winter sits on the air, spits in it. Sometimes she brings snow and wind and chilled rains and replaces the air.
Winter is heavy and often merciless and stingy, not only with the air but also the sunlight.
I realize more than one cause facilitates my suffocation.
This early in the morning headlights slide across closed blinds: One thousand one, one thousand two. I try breathing again, and it still hurts.
Darkness penetrates the room. Darkness is space, but it does not expand. It constricts. I cannot breathe the space, but it breathes into me, occupying too much of my lungs. The pressure also surrounds me from the outside, hugging my ribs tight.
Darkness leaves just enough air in my lungs to cough. Cold medicine suppresses the cough, helps me sleep.
Now, if only I could breathe more than a teaspoon at a time without pain.
Yet when my child and my husband cough, all I want to do is absorb their coughs. They need to be cough-free more than I.
Ten minutes later. The snooze alarm sounds. I turn it off and sit up. I could keep sleeping. I could keep overthinking this cough. I slip out of bed and begin getting ready for the day, grateful at least to be breathing, albeit heavy, dirty winter air.
Grateful for the full night’s sleep.
Disclaimer: Obviously I’m rusty with writing, but bear with me. I should be doing this more often and finding my voice. Beneath the coughs. Fingers crossed.