My professors like to say that being a nurse is really about being a compulsive observer, about catching little details that others would miss, and using that information to help treat the patient. Earlier this week, I was at the library at school and I saw a guy sitting at the table right in front of mine. I then notice that, when this young woman walked in, he perked up immediately and, almost imperceptibly, I saw him catch his breath. I noticed the way he looked at her as she approached his table, and how he simply swallowed it all up as soon as she sat down and went about pulling out books to study for their class.
That little scene stuck in my head; I felt there was a story there. I tried to tease out what it was over the next couple days but my mind wanted to run too rampant. I felt it needed to be a very short story for a very short moment. It was his breath catching that made it click for me. In order to get it out of my system, I set myself a one-man flash fiction challenge: write about the scene at the library in less than 1000 words. An hour and a half later, I had exactly 1000 words and a new short story entitled “Breath.”
I hope you enjoy it.