Breathe In. Hold Your Breath. Breathe Out. Routine.

Submitted into Contest #47 in response to: "Just say it," you silently reminded yourself. You knew you'd regret it if you didn't. ... view prompt



1. Breathe in. Clench your fingers. Remember, if you say these three words, everything will change.

2. Hold your breath. Recall all of the memories you shared together. Do you really want that to change? When you say these words, all of these moments, all of these memories, will be stained. Sure, it wasn’t perfect then, but aren’t all relationships filled with irregularities?

3. Breathe out. Relax those fingers. So what? So what if everything changes? You’ve wanted it to change for a long time. Sure, things will be messier, ugly even. But, isn’t it just better to release what you wanted to say for so long?

4. Breathe in. Tighten those shoulders. You look at the man you have known all your life. Time has not been on his side. His hair has disappeared and the glow on his face has dimmed. Wrinkles surrounded his face and his expression is, as always, unreadable. Your lips break into a small smile as he gets his mug and drinks the coffee inside. It’s always ready, lest something unfortunate happens.

5. Hold Your Breathe. The routine is tiring. But you continue to fake a smile. Your emotions are about to burst, but you keep the small talk going. That’s how it’s always been, isn’t it? Isn’t it tiring to hide all your emotions to yourself, when the man you should be opening up to is already sitting in front of you, drinking coffee?

6. Breathe out. He asks you what your plan is for the day. Straighten your back before he notices you slouching. Keep that smile plastered on your face. Make that voice neutral, without any trace of sarcasm or any other emotions. Isn’t it exhausting trying to hold everything together? Isn’t there any small chance of you, begging yourself, to let all the pieces crush down? Won’t it be nice to let havoc break loose, even if it’s just for a little while?

7. Breathe in. Break eye contact with him and look at your breakfast. You answer him as you continue to eat your breakfast. Oats and milk, just the way you like it. The man in front of you sees the bowl and shakes his head. That simple notion dips your stomach, losing the appetite to eat. You know the question he’ll ask next.

8. Hold your breath. His voice, raspy and rough asks you “Why are you still eating that junk?” You look down at him. Don’t you dare even try to make eye contact with him. Shrink down, down like you’re five years old again, and the man in front of you scolded you for something outside your control. Keep your voice minute and quiet, as if making it louder will make the volcano erupt. Answer him, with a quiet enough so no one can hear, but loud enough for him not to lean forward. “I like oats and milk.”

9. Breathe out. He looks at you with an expression you have familiarized yourself with. It was the same look he gave when you couldn’t get that perfect grade in school. It was the same face he had when you decided to pursue the arts instead of the business. It’s the look he has given you every day. You should be used to it by now, but you’re not. That look always makes you feel fragile, as if a toddler who has been scolded for not coloring inside the lines. You play around your food and look at it. Your mood has been a peaceful calm at the beginning of the day, but it has become sour and somber. When you’re with him, it always turns sour. When you’re with him, you have to pretend everything is alright, but it never is. It never can. It never will be.

10. Breathe in. The silence is heavy. You ponder. Won’t it be better just to say those three words out loud? The stirring of the coffee suffocates you. The spoon clinking with the bowl irritates him. You haven’t taken a bite ever since he gave you that look. In the middle of the silence, the man in front of you screams. He slams his fist on the table and the table shakes. The coffee threatens to spill and your spoon fell out of the bowl. “Why are you playing with your food?!”

11. Hold your breath. Apologize for playing with it. Even though you weren’t. Don’t talk back. You are just a child. You’re not the outspoken painter everyone admired. With him, you’re just a little girl, who talked a little too much, and didn’t know how to respect her elders. You freeze. Your tears threaten to fall, but you swallow the heaviness and refuse to let it fall. You never cry in front of this man. If you cry, he will scold you. Everything you do to him is a disappointment in his eyes. Each action is etched with imperfections. You know that. But he makes it feel like that’s a mistake.

12. Breathe out. Grab a spoonful of your breakfast and eat it. Chew silently. Sit straight. Don’t speak unless spoken to. In a few seconds, he’ll break the silence once again. He’ll ask what your plans are for the day. You’ll answer it directly. Won’t it be easy just for all of this to stop? Think of the emotional baggage you’ll be laying down. Isn’t it tiring? Aren’t you tired?

13. Breathe in. “What are you planning to do today?” He asks. Right on schedule. You answer the same answer you have said every day for the past five years. “Business meeting in the morning. Lunch with Jem. Office work in the afternoon. Paint in the evening.” At the sound of Jem’s name, he makes a snort of disgust. He wasn’t too keen on the LGBT community. But ever since you started dating one, that became a terrible issue. He knows enough you won’t break up with her. He tried. So, he’ll just give you one of those looks. And he’ll just give you one of those sighs.

14. Hold your breath. He finishes his coffee and hands it to you. You take it silently. You gulp down the last of your breakfast. Collect the plates, put them on the sink. Wash them immediately. He’ll erupt when he sees the mess you have left. Routine. Routine. Routine.

15. Breathe out. You grab your bag and head to your father. A kiss to the cheek. Not because you want to, but because you have to. Maybe kissing him will make him feel that you still love him, even though the two of you know you’re fooling each other.

16. Breathe in. Go to the door. You’re on schedule. You should be on autopilot. But you’re not. You’ve been itching to say those words. So just go ahead. Say them. Save yourselves the trouble. Stop fooling around. Finish it.

17. Hold your breath. “Hey dad,” He looks at you, surprised. The routine stops. You’ve never said goodbye before. But that’s not what you’re going to say, is it?

18. Breathe out. “See you later.” You close the door with a click. You didn’t say it. The routine continues.

June 26, 2020 17:40

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02:01 Jul 05, 2020

Woah... This is good. I love the format, the numbers are nice touch. It reads sort of like poetry. This has so much emotion and it's uh.. I ran out of words. Anyway it's awesome and you're really talented!


Faith Chrayon
05:48 Jul 06, 2020

Thank you so much!! I really appreciate it 🥺


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