Gratis Libre

Freedom

Augustine Altomare

Photo by Fabian Møller on Unsplash

Breathe

With the window down, he extended his left arm fully so he could reach out and catch the wind between his fingers. Behind the tint of his dark, plastic sunglasses, he slowly dropped his eyelids and allowed his eyes to fasten shut. The voices of those seated next to him became softer, then quieter, then silent. He didn’t have to see their lips moving or hands waving to know they were engaged amongst themselves; he knew they were there, as if their presence was simply palpable in the small space of the car. But even though he was right there with all of them, suddenly he wasn’t there at all. Or perhaps they weren’t there to him. Nonetheless the difference was the same. 

The only voice that could be heard was the one inside his head, the one that never silenced, the one that never stopped narrating all things around and within him, the one that never slept. 

Allowing his mouth to open ever so slightly, he felt a rush of air fill his lungs. Gently he captured as much of it as he could bear, feeling the edges of his ribs pressed out as his chest stretched to its limits. He heard the voice speaking, but then it too became fainter.

Then, as he breathed, something rare happened. The voice silenced. In the void that remained, there was a stillness. At first, it was startling. But this absence gave way to something new, to a calm that flowed through him. 

He breathed again.

In. 

And out. 

And in again. 

And suddenly he was alive. He was not only living, but in this moment he was alive. Now he was breathing more than air. He breathed in the sun, letting the warmth intoxicate his nerves as it shinned onto his face. He breathed the brisk chill of the air whipping past as they drove down these streets full of color and vibrance, feeling each and every tingle that danced across his outstretched arm. He breathed in the elation shared over laughter between good company, letting the glee sink deep into his lungs.

He breathed in life. In this moment he was alive.