Breath, a short story

She didn’t realize she’d been holding her breath for 50 years.

Born into sorrow, she had lived her life as a vulture for love. As she grew older her thoughts seemed to dangle just above paranoia, her fight or flight always engaged, sometimes even in sleep. Her troubles felt like mountains, her heart the river rushing beneath them. Pebbles of happiness rippled the surface, but more often life’s rocks were thrown violently against what she would have preferred remain calm waters.

She stumbled upon her ability to relax while worrying an ancient stone of shame. Like a talisman, she’d rubbed this jagged rock to smooth glass. It became a mirror, and as she gazed into it she saw that the reflection smiling back at her had changed. She was safe. The furrow in her brow was gone, the hard, ever vigilant eyes softened.

Time had done this, time and love.

She breathed deeply, let out the long, contented breath she should have known as a child, and cried.