Counting Breaths – Rewrite

Eight hundred million breaths is a lifetime.

The first, I imagine, was unwilling. Drawn from me on a mid-winter’s night by the practical violence of a doctor’s slap.  A wet uncertain gurgle bubbled forth as pink lungs first tasted the world’s sweet air. Then the clawing animal vitality, the desire for life, surged forth in a scream that pierced the still Highveld night. When that long cry sputtered and faded, it was for lack of air not passion.

Eight hundred million breaths is a lifetime.

The last, I hope, will be willing. Embraced by me on a warm summer’s evening as I would an old friend. A smooth, deep inhalation and I will taste, one last time, this world’s sweet air.  Then a soft lingering sigh and the last life within me will join those soft summer breezes. The urge to life, its passions fulfilled, finally expended.

Eight hundred million breaths is a lifetime.

The next, I know, is my choice. With twelve thousand I could read a good book and only a million are needed to write one. Instead I use twelve hundred to write this; two thousand to polish it; and just twenty to post it. You used thirty-eight to read it.