Zadie forced herself up from the chair and paced around the hospital room. It smelled of cleaning fluid and old skin. The window on the opposite side of the door was small and round. It didn’t open. It looked out onto the parking lot below and a school across the street. When it was night and the lights in the room were on, you could not see out the window, all you could see was your own face in reflection.
Her mother had fallen asleep a few minutes before. She was dosed with drugs, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, morphine. A day before, Zadie’s father had traveled around a curve too quickly, a patch of black ice grabbing the wheel and sending the car spinning into the embankment. Her father had cut his forehead but was not hurt. Her mother broke seven ribs, her fragile old body twisting under the force of the spin.
It was late and Zadie wanted to go home to bed. As she wished to be anywhere but there, in that odd-shaped room smelling of skin and cleaning supplies, she sat back down on the wooden chair and took a deep breath. She sent her abdomen out as far as she could allowing her diaphram to drop and drew in a relaxing breath.
When she exhaled, she felt the air rush past her lips towards her mother who, without the aid of a metal and plastic machine, would forfeit her right to the next breath, the next moment. Looking once more at the cylinders of oxygen and the ingenuity of some human or a team of humans somewhere able to construct the breathing apparatus of humans in steel and light, she resolved to stay a few more minutes.