Within

Breathe one for the times that you saw her across the hall, blonde hair gleaming in the sunlight, brown eyes filled with tears as you watched her stare out the window and cradle herself in her arms. If you could have seen her hands, you would have seen her rubbing a Scrabble piece between her fingers.

One, two, three, 80 beats per minute

Breathe two for the times that her face was alight in laughter; when you saw her red ponytail swinging as she glided down the hall, dexterous fingers working a newborn out from a surgical incision under the harsh lights of the OR, blue eyes saying more than her words ever could – because she speaks with gazes.

Four, five, six, 90 beats per minute

Breathe three for the way she slips her fingers under your waistband; for the way her lips meet yours as her hands slide around your hips to rest on your bottom, for her little habit of flicking her tongue just before she comes, for the tears that glitter on her cheeks because this is the best sex she can remember, if not the best she's ever had. Take an extra breath for her nipples hardening under your hands, for the way her soft skin feels like silk under your fingers.

Seven, eight, nine, 100 beats per minute

Breathe five for your body succumbing to her experience; for the surprise you felt when you learned that she likes girls, for the way she wiped your tears from your eyes and stroked your hair, that day on the ferry, that day of the storm. Keep breathing through it for the flashbacks of nails on your skin, of hair in your face, of soft words in your ears and the way you bucked against the railing and had a bruise on your back for a week.

Minuteshoursdaysmonthsyearseternityeternityeternity

Six breaths for the way she hitches her chest in excitement, seven for her cry of desperation when you touch her G-spot, ten in quick succession for the trail her tongue makes down your stomach, one, two, three for the rhythm of your sex, she's got your passion in a warm ball in her hands - twenty breaths as you reach your climax –

Your body succumbs to her skills, her hair falls across your shoulders, your stomach releases in a long, slow respiration of satisfaction. Breaths fall to measured sounds as you curl against her body; as you feel her heartbeats slow, and finally as you relax into sleep, you can't feel your breathing anymore.

This is what it must be like to live in limbo.