Breathing For Two


Hello again everyone! 

As many of you probably don’t know, I very much like fiction writing and would like to make a profession out of it one day! 

Here is a short story inspired by this harrowing documentary on Syria that I found on the brilliant website ‘Upworthy’ –

Give it a watch, it moved me so much I just felt this instant desire to write about it – I hope you like it, and I hope you watch the video and subscribe to, which is awesome sauce. 

Ok, here goes…


Breathing for Two by Chloe Jacobs


He presses the hard ridges of blue plastic inwards; thumbs calloused hard by work he is too young for squeeze air into her lungs. Again and again, forcing her little bird-ribs out until he fears they might break and then allowing them to collapse, like a flower curling in, like a building crumbling to dust, then forcing them out once more. His arms have passed the point of aching and have fallen into a numb marrow limbo that he hopes will last until morning, until the first light. Until the shells in the distance stop falling like summer rain, their muted blasts shaking the clinic to its foundations.

There are people everywhere, running, crying, weeping (for months and months of misery have taught him that there is a difference between crying and weeping), bleeding, praying. Men carry canvas stretchers in, bearing bodies in varying stages of completeness and living, bodies too small to have been wrenched from life, their past and present hewn in two like coarse fabric. They carry a man in who screams; one side of his face blasted with a constellation of shrapnel, weeping long lines of blood like melted red wax. His leg is bent at an unnatural angle; a woman’s headscarf is wrapped around the knee and reflects the overhead fluorescents wetly, saturated entirely. Several more stretchers are brought in, people missing limbs and baring bones are placed on the floor, on squares of cloth and worn mats. Jigsaw humans with holes and spaces where lost-flesh puzzle pieces should fit.

He continues pumping, a steady rhythm that matches the off-beats of his heart, breathing for both of them and hoping that he can keep this fragile little person alive long enough for her body to stitch itself back together. His friend stands in front of a soldier, the other boy’s eleven years and tiny stature dwarfed by the man who sits on a cracked green examination bed in the corner, shaking slightly – like aftershocks, involuntary tremors – as the child gently cleans the cuts on his face with steady hands. The white pad in his small fingertips, doused in stinging alcohol, turns slowly pink like clouds at the bottom of a sunset. The boy cleaning blood and the boy filling lungs look at each other shortly across the room, a mutual, silent ‘are you okay?’ that reverberates against the wasted walls.

The girl breathes, the soldier curses at the touch of antiseptic against raw flesh, a bomb splinters into smoke in the distance.

They are in a snow globe, a domed sky trapping them in a continual drift of ashes and debris, peppering buildings that seem wasted examples of how people once lived. Towering apartment blocks blasted and torn, jagged and broken like rotting teeth in the mouth of the city. A girl in the hallway, that can’t be more than thirteen, stabs the inside elbow of a man with the needle of a drip, with practised hands that have seen too many elbows and needles and plastic bags hanging like swollen fruit from metal trees, pregnant with morphine or blood or saline solution.

There is one doctor and two nurses still living, and they are busy, hastily tearing away the scarf-man’s makeshift bandage and re-tying it as a tourniquet before carrying him to another room, screaming and bleeding with intimate muscle and tissue visible from knee to hip. His place on the floor is soon filled with another person, their blood mingling and becoming indistinguishable from the rest.

The boy pumps again, hard, somehow hoping that it will shock his little patient back to independant life. He remembers a time when he was frightened of blood. The sight of something so vivid and vital flowing free like scarlet rivers had made him tremble, had made him feel physically sick. Even now, seeing too much all at once made his throat convulse, but it was different. This was his life, his job. Two years of his meagre fourteen had been spent in these rooms, amongst the gore and the suffering and the tears and the prayers and the death. He had closed enough eyes to realise that there were worse things to worry about than a little blood.

It was like water to him now, he told himself, it is just water, as common and as natural and as harmless as water.

Even so, he can’t help but think there is a reason blood doesn’t run clear in his veins. It is meant to be seen.

the end

Hope you liked it folks, and I hope I did the situation justice! Let me know what you thought 

Chloe xo