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One Breath


After reading an excerpt from Adam Skolnick's novel One Breath, I wrote this using a ten-minute timer:


Four minutes.

The doctor is on his way, they say. My child. My brand new baby would be cut open today. A scalpel to main his perfect skin that is only four days old. That pink skin that screams, "Life!" That skin would never be perfect again. There would be a constant reminder on his body haunting me, taunting me to remember a day that I think I might lose him.


3 minutes.

The doctor is approaching in slow motion with two other team members I only assumed would be assisting him soon. Surgical cap. Scrubs. Soon to be changed into the disposable fabric worn when in surgery. What I'd only seen in intense scenes on Grey's Anatomy. This was no TV show. There was no camera crew or director. Don't take my baby from me. He feels so warm. So blissfully unaware. Eyes closed. Sleeping soundly as I pat his back gently. This doctor is a thief. Would I be able to forgive him if something went wrong? Could he be blamed at all? What would I tell my four-year-old son who was waiting in anticipation to welcome his baby brother home? The home equipped for the necessary supplies one needs when coming from the hospital with a new child. With a picture-perfect nursery we all knew we would be far less utilized in the short days ahead. Would those days come? Or I would I return home robbed to a nursery deemed then as a deserted land of the lost and a shrine to what could have been.


2 minutes.

I think about the doctor more. Did he sleep last night? Did he really sleep? Was he tired? Was he distracted with the stresses that life brings? I mean, he has a life outside of the bright, cold hospital walls. Family Responsibilities. He, too, goes grocery shopping and waits in long lines in the Starbucks drive-thru. Would he forget the steps to what everyone refers to as a "routine and straightforward" surgery that my baby needs to survive?


1 minute.

He's taking him from me. Please. No. I don't know if I imagine it, but I am almost certain I can feel my slumbering child fight to stay close to me. We had only officially met three days ago. My husband steps in to help pass him to the doctor as I fall backward into the chair, covering my face with my hands, my eyes too heavy to even cry. The doctor gives me a curt nod as he prepares to wheel him away. He places my baby's writhing body into a clear, open container complete with jumbled wires and cords and screens as his eyes flutter open and close for a few seconds before what looks like sleep again. His swaddled frame cannot escape his fate. I look up, unable to stand, and watch them get smaller and smaller down the hallway to the operating room. After turning a corner, I hear the large, gray double doors slam shut almost scaring me back into reality. I think about running after them, but my husband is still holding me still.


All I can do now is wait.

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