“Breathe,” you whisper. Holding me.
The first breath is convulsive, just a reflex, and when it comes, it’s flour and molasses in Granny’s porcelain bowl, stirring. I clutch and reach.
“Breathe,” you insist, and remove your mask, to show me how.
The second breath is my own, the sound of rainwater in a drainpipe. I raise myself against your arm and lean, and when you reach under my ribs and pull me up against your chest, brine pours from my mouth. I heave, coughing and spitting, but the taste is not bitter. I want it back.