Breathing You In

March 2, 2009
By shikyoyome BRONZE, Falls Church, Virginia
shikyoyome BRONZE, Falls Church, Virginia
2 articles 1 photo 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
"Life is like a game of cards. The hand you are dealt is determinism; the way you play it is free will."
- Jawaharlal Nehru

It smelled like burnt cheese. The stench mixed with the old rubber and years of sweat compressed together made me more nauseous than before. The bus rattled forward to a halt, my head slamming against the seat in the front.

Oh sweet god. I could smell it again.

The boy, though appearing more like a man, was playing with a lighter. The small flicker of flames appeared and then disappeared. And then the smell returned. Burnt cheese. I never was a huge fan of cheese, and the last thing I needed was the smell to consume me for the next few hours I was trapped on this bus.

The person next to me toppled towards me as the bus lurched forward once again.


I would smell the sweat on his neck, and the trial of watery droplets seeping through the crevice of his lips. I bit my lip for the second time that night, not knowing what to do.

I hated close proximity.

His breathing was in slow progression that he almost appeared dead.

I hope he wasn't.

The bus lurched forward once again, and the boy fell soundly on my lap, and my lips could not help but let out a shriek.

I could feel it now. It wasn't the smell anymore. The stench of sweat was still present, but his gaze was the most prominent. I looked up; my hands raised up in an awkward gesture as not to be contaminated by the boy on my lap. His eyes met mine, for a few minutes, and all I could see was that look.

His eyes wrinkled slightly around the corners, his brows knitted together, his nostrils slightly raised up towards the sky, and he glared.

He blinked, and the look was gone.

He turned towards the window and everything turned black. The bus was entering a tunnel. We still had a great deal to go before returning home.


I closed my eyes.

The sun was slowly descending from the high peak of the sky, and it was finally his turn to race. He was standing there with his ears cushioned by headphones,listening to an endless stream of music. It didn't seem to occur to him that he was next to go.

Race into the sunset, I always called it.

He called it work.

Maybe it was that way just because he was good at it, and eventually it became more of an obligation then a hobby. Maybe I was becoming more of an obligation.


They came up behind me, chatting away endlessly about random banter.

My friends.

They were boys after all. They were boys; that was what was wrong.

He never liked them.

He took off those headphones, and avoided looking towards my face.

I blinked.

He was gone.

I rubbed up my eyes.

I could feel a rush in my stomach; a sense of worry consumed me. Then I felt almost a wind sweep by my eyes, and I had to close them, simply to find him in front of me when I opened them once more. Staring at me. He turned his head towards my friends, and his eyes crinkled slightly, showing more emotion than usual.

He didn't bother to say anything.

He was never a man of words.

Maybe that's why I felt detached, almost a mile away from him; a hurdle for him to relentlessly climb over after he had already tumbled over a million that day. A burden.

Yes, a burden.

He turned and looked at me again for what seemed like a long time, and then he disappeared; like always.

That night, he won his race.

We all knew he was going to win.

He wasn't like them; like those who needed a kiss to wish them luck, or a item to wear which they believed helped them win.

No, he was a winner and that was all that mattered.

He didn't need me.

I guess that's why I left. Left before the blare of the speaker announced the race. Before the gun shot struck through the sky to be heard. No, I didn't want to hear it. I didn't need to hear it.

Instead I just kept walking. Straight up to the gates, and up the concrete stairs.

On the highest step, I stopped.

Sat down ungracefully, and waited.

I wasn't too sure what I was waiting for then. But looking back, I was waiting for him to run back and get me. To tell me he needed me before the race started, but that wouldn't happen. The gun had already shot by the time I left the gate, the cheering had already begun by the time I walked up the stairs, and needing me had never existed in his mind.

I sat.

Slowly, the lights on the field died down, and people began walking towards their vehicles and disappearing from sight.

Still he didn't come.

I wasn't sure what I was waiting for once again, but stupidly I sat there.


I could smell it now. The smell of something burning. I always thought it smelled like burnt cheese. It was terrible. I hated cheese.

The smoke drifted closer and closer. And he was getting closer and closer. His shoulders were slightly hunched over; his ears bare for the first time. He loved music, he barely took those headphones off. But then again, he was smoking.

I hated when he smoked.

He loved it.

We never worked out. We just didn't mix. Oil and water. Simple.

He stopped walking and stood, two steps distancing us.

He wasn't looking at me, just into the distance, and me at the ground.

Concrete...I was concrete, stepped on all the time.

"You left."

Two words. Two syllables.

"I know."

Two words. Two syllables.


He couldn't say I didn't try.

I could smell the smoke slither underneath my nose, pass across my ears, and scream at me to say what I wanted to say.

But what did I want to say?

I didn't know.

Just knew he never needed me.

Then it felt cold again.

The warmth even from the smoke was comforting, but now no more.

It was gone.

He was gone.

--flashback complete---------------

The bus budged once again, and the guy lying on me fell forward and awoke. Apologized and moved to talk to his friends.

Even his warmth was gone.

I could feel eyes on me again. I looked up this time, determined not to be deterred.

His eyes were blank. He let out a grunt and turned back to his paper.

I had never seen so much feeling exerted before in that one frustrated noise.

-----flashback starts---------------

"What are you doing?"

I looked at the paper on the floor, and just smiled.

"I wanted to see what you were writing."

He grunted, "It's not important." Without fear, I grabbed the parchment, and ran to the bathroom. Locked the door and opened it up.

It read Breathing You In. I furrowed my eyes and began reading.

Is that your name?
Is that the language you speak?

Your eyes gleam with so much passion,
moments like this should be held still,
Your lips curve up with every word,
my heart needs you, and only you can fill.

Tell me, do you feel this way?
Seconds tick by slowly, and time seems to stay.
Is it suppose to feel this good?
Making you smile, the way only I could.

Is that your game?
Is that what you seek?

Your words slither into my heart,
like falling grace,
you're tearing me apart.
All in that one face,
you gave me a single clue.

Is this how it truly feels,
to know that I love you?

Tell me, do you feel this way?
Seconds tick by slowly, and time seems to stay.
Is it suppose to feel this good?
Making you smile, the way only I could.

Tell me, do you feel this way?
Your heart beats a million times,
and she just takes your breath away.

Tell me, do you feel this way?
When your heart is restless and never blue.
Is this how it truly feels,
to know that I love you?

Is this how it truly feels?

I couldn't breath. Instead, I opened the door with the crumpled paper in my hands rolled into a ball.

"Is this how you truly feel?" I couldn't help ask.

He looked at my astonished face, and then to the crumpled paper.

"F*** it," and with that, he slammed the door to his room and left.

I was sitting alone again.

I saw him after 4 days.

He was racing tonight. But it was different.

Tonight, someone wished him luck.

Gave him a kiss on the lips. He didn't look delighted, just lost in thought.

Now I was standing alone again.

Even the warmth from his cigarettes would have been comforting right now, but now they weren't there.

I turned around, and kept walking.

I wouldn't stop tonight.

He didn't need me.
-----flashback ends--------------

The bus lurched to a halt.

The bus driver said we had reached our destination, but she was never good with directions. She was new and like me, she was probably lost.

Everyone was leaving.

I looked across to see if that boy was still there, glaring at me.

But he wasn't.

Instead his paper from earlier was now crumpled in a ball.

His cigarette was lying squished into his seat.

His head phones were on the floor.

He couldn't live without his music, but now they were simply lying there; helpless.

I waited until everyone left.

I unrolled the crumpled paper.

"I miss you"

Three letters. Three syllables.

He wasn't the type of guy to show empathy.

Three words were too many for him.

I ran out of the bus with the crumpled paper in my hands.

I could see the smoke, rising like chimney over the decaying sun.

I ran.

He stopped.

He use to hate waiting.

"Smoking isn't good for you." That's all I could think of saying as I bit my lip.

He looked at me with his eyes, but he didn't glare. His eyes didn't wrinkle around the corners like usual.

The cigarette fell to the floor.

I could see it go out as he stepped on it with his foot.

"I will quit for you."

Five words.

That's all I needed.

It was more than enough.

The author's comments:
Two memories intermingle to form something close to reality.

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