“It’s such a beautiful, foggy autumn evening,” I observe in between gulps of hot coffee. “Babe, I’m going outside to sit on the patio. Care to join me?”
A smirk appears on Marybeth’s masterfully painted face, and her gaze meets mine. “Seriously?” she asks. “I didn’t spend two hours putting on makeup just to have it smudge before work.” Then, before handing me an “I ❤ Illinois” coaster for my coffee mug, she adds: “What’s with your sudden interest in the weather, anyway? You wouldn’t give two shits about it before we married.”
I want so badly to say: “Yeah, well you weren’t so bitchy either,” but I restrain myself and manage to pull my lips into a painful smile before heading outside.
A steady, cool wind greets me, twisting and knotting my long hair. I can’t help but smile as I recall the times daddy and I would rake leaves, only to have the breeze blow them away in complicated spirals.
I take a seat by the black square table my friend Julie had given us as a wedding gift, and I take a deep breath. As I inhale, I imagine that I am stealing tufts of cloud – an angel somewhere must be dead tired from my inhalation of her comfy bed. The brisk tufts that fill my lungs leave a warm impression in my throat. When I exhale, I’m not just clearing my lungs of the obscuring fog cloud; I am ridding my mind of the tension of a stressful marriage and permitting an inflow of sparkling, cinnamon bliss. Nature is a beautiful thing.
But suddenly, the sensation in my throat intensifies; the fog’s warm touch shifts into a stinging poke and finally a fiery stab. Air hot as molten metal flows down my gullet, but I can’t scream or motion for help; I can’t even breathe.
It’s not until the rapidly increasing weight of exhaustion is too much to bear and my breaths turn into constricted wheezes that I make the stunning realization that this isn’t fog that I’m breathing.
As I collapse to the ground, I notice a faint shadow of a bomber jet disappear into the horizon.