Keep breathing by John Wentworth Chapin

While you sleep, I wait for you to die. These months, all these months! They wear on me. I don’t want you to die – you must know that. I don’t even fucking believe in God, but I pray just in case. I want the lifeguards and policemen and hall monitors to really get it when I say that I don’t want you to die. When you do die, I don’t want to be caught unawares. I don’t dare expect it, but I can’t help waiting for it.

That this could happen has been hideously  clear since that first electric moment of I’m pregnant when I stopped in the hallway in my ragged tightie-whities with a “?” and she said “!” and I thought about all the reasons she might have to trap me – there are so many fucked-up untrue stories that it’s hard to disbelieve all of them. True fact: since I was ten I wanted a kid more than a pony or a Mustang. When everyone else wanted to be a cowboy or fireman, I wanted to be a father.

Keep breathing.

You sleep, but you must breathe. Every time they smeared the ultrasound jelly above you, I knew you’d be stiff, unresponsive – but each time your heartbeat grew stronger. Now the gates threaten to close on your infancy. They mustn’t close on the wrong side of you: for then I will die.

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5 Comments

Filed under John Wentworth Chapin

5 responses to “Keep breathing by John Wentworth Chapin

  1. Matt Potter

    Oh, I like the special way you use punctuation in this – punctuation is much more important that most people realise or even notice – and I especially liked this line: ‘When everyone else wanted to be a cowboy or fireman, I wanted to be a father.’ That’s kind of the nub of things.

  2. Powerful stuff, John. Got me in the gut.

    My two children are so hard won, and the years yearning for them are replaced now with the fears of losing them. The yin and yang or parenthood. Peace…

  3. Kelly Grotke

    I like the way you create and inhabit characters – not detached, very present, human, alive

  4. Pingback: Week #15 – Sleep « 52|250 A Year of Flash

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