Breath In

Submitted into Contest #151 in response to: Write about somebody breaking a cycle.... view prompt


American Contemporary Inspirational

Breath In

Monday 9:00am

The café where she had her coffee every morning before work looked just as busy as always. Mostly the same faces shuffling by, no real distinction between them in her eyes. They might as well be part of the décor. She had been coming to this café every morning for the last two years in the futile attempt to boost her energy before going into work. Unfortunately, although coffee does help wake her up, it does not provide motivation. She didn’t hate her job, it was just part of a series in, what seemed to be, a never-ending parade of monotonies tasks and routines. She simply didn’t have the inspiration anymore.

It was hard to recall, but she knew that she hadn’t always felt this way. When did it change? When did days start blurring together in a way that she couldn’t even tell them apart anymore? The change itself was blurry. Not sudden, but a slow slide into what it was now. Life wasn’t horrible, but it didn’t feel like what life ought to feel like to her. She was waiting for something to change. Maybe once she got the new promotion or found the right guy, things would feel differently. She just needed a change in her life.

As she stepped outside the café, the sky was grey and gloomy as it always was in the mornings here. She had learned to carry her umbrella with her in the high probability that it might start raining during her walk to the office. Today didn’t seem as grey though as she peeked up at the sky. She couldn’t be sure however. How many nuances are there in the color grey? She carried her cappuccino in one hand and her unopened umbrella in the other as she took her usual route. As always, she passed the florist shop that was very non strategically perched up alongside a butcher shop. The flowers were visibly pleasing but overwhelmed due to her sense of smell being assaulted by the scent of meat and fish. She had become accustomed to holding her breath as she passed this area. It had become such a habit that she didn’t even notice she did it anymore. Her next breath in would be two shops down, at the used book store where there was not anything appealing or revolting visually or other. Two more doors and she would be clocking in at her office. Five minutes early as usual just to be safe. Eight hours later, she would repeat the routine, only backwards this time with the starting point becoming the destination. The highlight of the night would be her nightly bath, followed by two chapters in whatever book she was reading. Often she would re-read a book that she had previously enjoyed. Why not? Its comforting to be met with the same characters that you have come to know. Never feeling anxiety about what was to come next because she already knew. The current book she was reading was already in its third rotation.

Tuesday 9:00am

The café again, still as busy as usual. She looked around at the people and wondered if they felt the same as she did. The background characters in her morning café stop must have their own lives and stories. She looked down at her coffee before anyone could make eye contact. Making small talk about weather or long waits was of no interest to her and she didn’t want to accidentally inspire someone to strike up a conversation. She just wanted to go about her day, as usual. She reached down to grab her umbrella and realized she had forgotten it this morning. One small break in her routine had thrown her off course. In her haste to hang up with the telemarketer, she skipped the part of grabbing her rainy-day protector and ran out the door. Hopefully today is a little less gloomy than yesterday.

She stepped outside only to see the nuance of grey seemed to be even darker this morning. Not the best day to forget her umbrella. As she started along her path, she felt a rain drop land softly on her forehead. She felt the familiar feeling of frustration. “Why today? The one day I forget my umbrella!”. She had no other choice but to keep going. It was only a drizzle and her office wasn’t too far away. Perhaps she would just add some haste to her step this morning. The rain seemed to pick up haste as soon as she had this thought. Still soft, but coming more quickly, the drops were splashing all over her. For a moment she had the crazy thought that they were aiming at her in particular.

An oblivious biker caused her to stop suddenly to get out of his path and in that moment, the rain drop that landed on her cheek rolled down like a tear. She felt it. She felt it land and the way it tickled her skin as it made its way to the ground. Suddenly, she felt every drop land on her skin individually. Each droplet felt unique and created a different sensation on her skin. She looked up at the sky and let the rain fall on her face and she let herself feel it. When was the last time she had let herself feel the rain rather than cover or run from it? This felt like the first time. As she stood there, coffee in hand, face to the sky letting the drops fall wherever they may, she took in a deep breath. The smell of the rain embraced her first. It seemed as though she had become so accustomed to it, she forgot how refreshing it smelled. The next aroma to grace her was the smell of flowers. It somehow seemed as though the rain was enhancing the fragrance. The smell of them reminded her of playing in her grandmother’s backyard as a child. Her grandmother always made a point of planting as many assortment of flowers that she could each year. The flowery smell made her think of her grandmother and how much she missed her. It wasn’t a sad feeling, it felt warm to think of her. The rain felt warmer too as though it was in connection to her memory. She felt a sense of love and gratitude just being in this moment, remembering her grandmother so vividly.

As she glanced back down at the path ahead, she realized she had stopped right in front of the florist shop. The same one she passed everyday and every day she had held her breath to avoid the smell of fish from the shop next to it. She didn’t even pick up on the meat smell this time because she was so focused on the flowers. The smell of them, the way they looked with raindrops dripping from their petals. The colors, full of nuance. She felt as if this was the first time she had ever really seen or smelled this shop. It was the first time she took a moment to. The first time she wasn’t worried about what would come next. After passing the flower shop.

Today, although it was raining, the sky had never looked more beautiful to her. Although, she was soaked from the rain, she felt refreshed. Even though she was on the same path she had always taken, she was seeing and feeling everything it had to offer.

She made another stop on her way to work that morning. To the used book store she had so often disregarded. Stories filled with love and hope and excitement had been waiting for her this whole time but she was the one who never reached out for it. The clerk and her even joked about the conundrum of the forgotten umbrella as she made her purchase. She didn’t clock in five minuets early that day and she didn’t care. She had enjoyed the moments that she had been overlooking. It was time to breath.

If we don’t participate in the present moment, how can you expect to enjoy it? If you don’t live in the present, you will never really know what it has to offer. If you are always focused on what is behind or ahead of you, you aren’t really living. From the wise words of Alan Watts “I have realized that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is.”

June 22, 2022 21:42

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Jeremy Renbarger
01:29 Jun 30, 2022

I really like stories that revisit different situations or locations with different outlooks, and you did a really great job of that, I like the part where she’s at the same flower shop, and she doesn’t smell butcher shop just the flowers. Really is a metaphor in itself.


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Shea West
13:55 Jun 27, 2022

Hello Amanda, You have some moments of lovely imagery throughout your story. I'm curious though if the use of the word Breath In should be Breathe instead?


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Katy B
18:48 Jun 25, 2022

This is beautiful, Amanda! A very relatable experience, especially since it begins with what seems to be a minor inconvenience.


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Minerva Noiropp
05:53 Jun 25, 2022

Beautiful. Reminds me of the beginning of enlightenment. What a marvellously blessed way to experience the physical reality.


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