I labored a long time today on something new. It felt like work–every word–but at least my muse will find me working when he/she decides to show up. Steven King (and other writing sages) says to just write; it doesn’t have to be inspired.  The point is to be found writing, and to make a habit of it. After squeezing myself dry with that project, I decided to do a little freeform exercise. I was asthmatic as a child, and so I called to my mind all the memories of struggling to breathe and the intendant terror that accompanies a full-blown asthma attack, and then took it a step further. Here it is:

She awoke in the inky darkness of the room, panic rising like a phantom up from the cold sepulcher where it slept during the day. Gasping for air, she wheezed instead, defective alveoli hanging in her lungs like so many withered grapes on the vine, constricted and useless in the transportation of oxygen to the millions of blood cells clamoring and dying for it with every second that ticked by. She groped for the rescue inhaler she kept on the bedside table. But where was it?

Commanding herself to stay calm (for she knew that symptoms would only get worse if the fear that twisted in her gut took full control), she snapped on the bedside lamp and threw back the covers. The inhaler was not on her bedside table where she knew—absolutely knew—she had left it. She fell heavily to her knees and peered under the table, under the bed, and all around the floor as her breathing grew more and more labored.

Standing once more, she clutched the lace around the neckline of her nightgown as tears squeezed out from under her eyelids and tiny lights began to spin lazily before her eyes. Staggering forward, she reached her hand out for the doorknob, intending to go to the kitchen for the spare inhaler she kept in the silverware drawer, just in case. Before she could turn the knob, however, it was wrenched out of her grasp, and the door flew open, throwing her backwards against the wall.

Standing before her was Rick, a cruel smile stretched across his wicked, handsome face as he carelessly leaned against the jamb and held her inhaler outstretched.

“Looking for this?” he said.

She knew in that moment what it was to die a thousand times and yet still live, trapped in her mutinous body, at the mercy of the one man she knew would like nothing more than to watch her die.

Who knows? Perhaps a short story will come of it. For now, it goes into my ever-growing Documents file.