1990 Tracheotomies

I trace my fingers gently down your neck. You must be explored like this, an inch at a time. In the pocket at your collarbone, I find another scar. You explain how after the accident, this was where they inserted the breathing tube.

“They even said last rites.” You say, impressing me.

You reveal a new piece of the story with every scar I discover. A stapled thigh leads to the length of your hospital stay. A torn ear, I learn the reason for the crash. The red lines across your chest are twelve years old, dug when I was eight and you were still fifteen years older.

I search to answer you. “A jean jacket just about killed me the same year.”

You listen reluctantly as I tell how I was home from school with a cold, and, for whatever reason, decided to pull on an out-grown buttoned jean jacket. The memory of the stiff denim pinning my arms above my head and pressing in tightly over my mouth and nose is still my closest touch to death. You laugh at the circumstances of my story.

“I panicked when I couldn’t move. My asthma triggered and my lungs seized up. All I could see was blue and then bright flashes were all around me. I thought I was going to die!”

I wheeze dramatically to show the desperation, and flick my fingertips, to play the sparks, around our faces.

“Who pulled you out?” You ask, fending of the flashing.

I shake my head. “There wasn’t anyone around.”

“So what did you do?”

“I calmed down a bit, then slowly, inch by inch, pulled out of the sleeves. I used my tongue to pry a tiny opening between two buttons so that I could get a breath.”


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