A LESSON IN BREATHING - zachary c. bush


zachary c. bush

One morning, when I was nearly ten years old, my father woke me and said, “Son, we’re leaving for the mountains.” And so we left.

Later that morning, as we crossed into the neighbor’s yard, my father pointed to the mountain range that circled the city and said, “Out there will be our new home.” I nodded, and we walked into the mouth of the woods behind our neighborhood. We hiked a few sluggish miles before we came to a frozen lake at the foot of the nearest mountain. We sat down to rest. Not long after my father fell asleep, I tried to masturbate beside the lake, but nothing came out of it, so I listened to the ducks squawking and cursed my penis.

Later that afternoon, when we were three quarters of the way up the mountain, we stopped again for water and rest. My father turned to me, dried his face and said, “Last night I gagged your mother and locked her in the attic.” He asked me if I cared to know why he did it. I looked at him and said, “Indeed, I would like to know why you did such a thing.” He took a quick swig from his canteen before looking out over the city where we used to live. He said, “Because she laughed too much and for far too long at times when she shouldn’t have…”

Later that night, as my father tucked me into my sleeping bag and kissed me on the forehead, I laughed out loud at the thought of my mother’s hot, muffled screams. But I tried not to laugh for too much or for too long, because I am a severe asthmatic.

Zachary C. Bush
Invisible Cities
Italo Calvino