“Just Breathe” appeared in Hospital Drive, Winter/Spring 2012.
The craft room makes me nervous, with its glitter-marked tables and stacked containers of craft materials. I feel panicked at the thought of being ordered to fingerpaint or craft a self-portrait out of pasta. I am equally panicked by the set of rules they have given me to read: Surrender your car keys. Surrender your cell phone. No shorts. No tank tops. No water bottles. No caffeine. No exercise. No stairs. No excessive cutting, stirring, or mixing of foods. No hooded or pocketed sweatshirts during meals. No dismantling of sandwiches. After I finish reading the rules, I wonder why these people keep asking me if I’m breathing. What kind of question is that? As nurses, they should know that if I weren’t breathing, I’d be dead.