This Very Breath is a flash fiction and nonfiction journal. It was created for the purpose of publishing emotionally engaging short stories. The journal was inspired by “This Very Breath” a flash nonfiction story by Daniel Wallock.
“I was born with a broken heart, literally. The hospital and or my childhood seemed to be a neverending time of tragedy. The smells of hydrogen peroxide and cleaning products, the fluorescent whites of the hospital and the deep reds of my tattered flesh. My body shredded with tiger-like rips and my thoughts tortured with trauma. “Your son has seven life-threatening heart conditions,” I remember hearing my doctor announce. For fourteen years my life was a mix of unending hospital reds and heart monitor beeps. Now surrounded by land, my life is a beam of light with the smell of fresh eucalyptus. My life is the sun in the morning and the winter chill on my fingers. My life is riding next to deer on my bike and hearing the sounds of owls in the sweetness of night. I am with nature and I am alive. My heart may be broken, but that only means that I have learned to appreciate the things like this very breath.” – by Daniel Wallock
This Very Breath Journal most recent published pieces are below.
by Georgia-May Stone
It’s 3AM- and I have nightmares awake. It’s 3AM- You’re asleep, I’m wide awake. It’s 3AM- and I’m wondering, was it all just in my head?
Message in a Bottle
by Sam Janosik
Listen. Hold a smile a minute longer. Stiff fingers write nothing. Feel a chest rise and fall with a staccato of laughter, then slow to a sleepy sigh. Left criminally thin, I am hungry for the words of another. Let the light dance on skin, leaving a freckle with every touchdown. Though worth only a sick penny, my voice will be heard. When eyes brighten by infantile fires, never smother them. Giving every precious stone, every pearl, luster will be lost in the greed and thrive in modesty. Forgotten text mispronounced and misattributed. Released smile, broken, may now retire again.
by Cherokee Dawn Tenario
My thoughts are like an unanswered office phone: constant. My thoughts are unlike an unanswered office phone: rhythmic. There are quiet moments sometimes, found in the pauses between carefully chosen words in therapy. These moments peek around the corners like small children. I need them to feel actively alive, rather than willingly present. Darkened corridors hide behind well-concealed doors to confuse astray thoughts. Wander a labyrinth long enough, alternative paths will be discovered. The waiting begins here, the waiting for mental equilibrium. The weighting begins here. Am I being duped by my own senses? Who knows? I’ll self-medicate until tomorrow.
by Cherokee Dawn Tenario
They never said it would be easy. The second thoughts always seem to matter the most. It’s a constant battle living like this. The medications that are supposed to make it better, don’t. They only make it worse. “A chemical imbalance is nothing to be ashamed of.” It’s not the imbalance I’m ashamed of. It’s the meds. It’s the dependency. It’s the lack of control. If it were up to me, I would stop it, but I can’t. I live my life, because I must. I believe it will get better though. One day It will be better. One day.
by Joshua Asmah
Crash, crash. He looks out over the wide expanse of waves that goes on forever as he stands at the precipice, toes dangling over the edge. He contemplates on universe’s enormity and vastness. Crash, crash. It’s all so big; he’s so small. Everything goes on and on. He never mattered. Nobody and nothing cares, really. Even the ocean just does its job and remains indifferent. Crash, crash. He takes a deep breath. Now’s not the time to be afraid. He’ll soon just be another permanent addition to the ocean. It’s now or never. One, two, three. He jumps. Crash, crash.
Let Me Continue Living
by Luo Wen
The piano had its glorious days once in the past, but as time elapsed, the soul vanished and it was now left to collect dust. A number of people urged the owner to pawn it to at least get some decent cash out of it. He had a small apartment, and it was taking up much space. However, he could not baulk at doing so. It was his wife’s last wish. His wife’s lifeless body was in it, the piano was her coffin. “When I die, please let my soul stay with the piano.” was her last words.
by Jonathon Denholm
She awoke before dawn, which was odd. She had been dead for over nine hundred years. Even when she had been alive waking up before the sun was past its peak was not something such an artistic soul as she did very often. Her left hand explored her head as she sat up, investigating the source of throbbing pain. Dampness and mold invaded her nostrils. Vaguely she recalled that the pain linked, somehow, back to her death. If she had known nine hundred years had passed she would most likely have been surprised that the pain had yet to fade.
Keeper Of Keys
by Catherine Close
Can a child ever know her father: keeper of keys, maker of fun, teller of tales? Sitting under a flowering plum tree, my father explained communism and procreation. A divorce later, we shared an apartment and canned chicken stew over white bread. I studied him at midnight. I burrowed into the gold shag carpet. In the dim light that illuminated Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon, I watched the rise and fall of my father’s snoring chest. And now? So many years later, I am still watching him, the original man, he who started it all.
by Kat Garcia
Hundreds of beautiful homes tucked away in this gated community so exclusive it has 24-hour security people blocking the entrance. Neighbors quietly co-exist on the same street, but never really meet, even though it has been over 5 years. Until tonight, when a full lunar eclipse brought everyone out with excitement and curiosity. We all smiled, stared and pointed at the sky. An event to be a part of. For hours the block was alive with comradery and unity. We were all best of friends while the moon eclipsed. But it’s done and so were we. Back into the house.
by Selena Makrides
I wanted to say: I can see myself holding your hand when it’s white and papery, when the type of young girls you would easily conquest in your youth shrink away from your cautionary frailness. I wanted to say I will love you the way an old man who could’ve/should’ve done more with his life deserves to be loved, for the sake of perpetuity. I will love you as if you were a hero.
A Desert Road
by Ed Teju
A Desert Road
We are heading out driving over strands of sunbaked asphalt,
staring at parched hills still waiting for the relief of rain,
seeing the faces of farmers waiting for the release of rain.
We travel this overheated asphalt line
through desert towns,
huddled along the road.
Shuttered stores and boarded up homes
betray the charm of an older era;
derelicts that embody visions
of architects long gone,
some stunning in their clean, sharp lines,
others busied with fussy gingerbread.
Now, sealed and decaying,
the world thinks them signs of failure,
far too damaged to repair.
We dream, idly,
of living amid this tired elegance,
savoring the beauty that could rise from neglect.
Yet that is not our passion now.
It is hard work requiring time, money
and a kind and generous touch.
We fear these shuttered icons of a genteel time
will not be allowed to continue their slow slide
into a decay that is not to be shunned (it happens to us all),
but must face the ultimate humiliation
dealt by bulldozers intent on revitalizing
(as if vitality came only with modern design);
and replacing these quiet, proud structures
with a different kind of failure,
a new shabbiness, a briefly fresh face,
that does not age with grace.
by S. Kay
A train whistle plaintively cries, commiserating and curling around me as I sit alone, telling me of a city far away where you now live.
A Blissful Oblivion
by Pablo Arimany
You never saw the inside of me
I never saw beyond a reflection,
the one merely looking for affection.
Though seen as a splintery decoration,
allow me to fall, to break, to cry
Allow me some fun, allow me to run
from musings inside my mind.
You´ve been here before; everyone has
No reason why birds fly from the nest
or why a raindrop deforms reflections
You´ve seen it with a word loss,
you stare, quietly, watching the world pass by
Nights like those, we share the same heart
Nights like those, I know I´m safe at home
If there was a force above,
I would know why my head´s floating,
why there´s no life in your eyes
why we´re made of broken pieces
I would know why we keep moving
why it´s dark when morning comes
why we´re all losing our mind.
Not You Again!
It kept coming with her. She ran through the forest with nowhere to hide. She heard it rustle through leaves yet again.
“Got to run. Got to get away. But there’s nowhere to get. Nowhere to go.”
She kept going.
She looked around, and there it was a few feet back.
“Run again. Flee. Don’t let it get me. No. Not this time.”
She glanced back, hoping she lost it. But it’s still there right behind her.
by Celia Coyne
I came across your number in an old address book. I dialled it for the hell of it, just to see what would happen. It was an international number – 10 digits long. I used to know it by heart and even now after all this time the number seemed familiar.
The line clicked and whirred, bouncing off satellites, crossing land and oceans of time, until it connected and I heard it ringing. Three rings and you picked up.
‘Hello?’ you said, slightly dazed as though you had just woken. It was definitely you.
‘It’s me,’ I said.
‘Don’t you recognise me?’
There was a silence on the line as you paused for thought. I felt dizzy and my heart was
pounding. I wanted you to talk so that I could listen, but you still had questions.
‘So what do you want?’ you said gruffly. ‘I’m right in the middle of something.’
That was strange. What could you be doing? The line crackled and I could hear you
‘I suppose I just wanted to hear your voice again.’
‘And how do I sound?’
‘Just the same.’ You hadn’t changed a bit.
‘But you sound… different,’ you said. ‘You sound… old.’
‘That’s because I am old.’
‘Oh,’ you said. There was a pause. I felt your awkwardness in the silence. And then you
said: ‘Look, can we do this another time, I really have to get going.’
It was the same as always. Why did I think it would be different? We never could connect. But it was you. And that was something.
‘Yeah fine,’ I said, reluctantly. ‘Go easy.’
‘See you later,’ you said, your usual casual farewell. I remembered it from before.
Click. And then the line went dead.
by Ashley Reynolds
The summer when my friend fell from
The roof of an electric company,
We stood by his sterile white bedside
And said even less than the whirring
Of the electrical currents and respirators
Just down the hall.
We were so concerned with him living
That we ignored how the whole town was dying.
Unemployment twice the national average
Showed itself in burned buildings, locked doors,
Shoes abandoned in the middle of Blanding Boulevard,
Broken ovens, river water that smelled worse than
The Jaguars stadium after a lost game.
College rejection letters were like being drafted
Because what else can you do in a military town?
Every morning, a homeless man in a blue suit
Begs for breakfast so he’ll be ready
For his first job interview in five years,
The next day he’ll be out again
Spinning the same tale to a new audience.
Nurses came into the room where we stood vigil
To change his old bandages and check on
The metal rods holding together his spine
Like telephone poles.
We, too, were healing from old wounds
We dared not look at until they had festered.
I imagine you can smell the rot
All along the east coast,
Rolling off our city in the form of
Smog and the bodies in the Saint John’s River.
by Anne Elder
I queued up outside the club in the pouring rain and lovingly savoured the double rum and coke I bought to warm myself up. I spent most of the night on the dancefloor, or hanging around near groups of people I could almost pretend I was with. I smiled at revellers’ conversations and laughed at their jokes, but I didn’t make eye contact with any of them in case they thought I was weird. In the early hours I went home and told my mum I’d had a great night, thanked her for babysitting and said, “Same time next week?”