A momentary lapse of breathing

There was a girl in a tiny coffee shop, writing something for herself on a sleepy november morning. It started drizzling outside — a timid touch of rain. The drizzle soon became a pour, and the pouring was loud and angry. Her attention dispersed from the page, as her eyes moved to the roaring waterfall.

‘Can’t outrun rain’, she thought of the people on the chaotic sidewalk. Her breath, caressing the numbing sweetness of the coffee, made a tiny film of foam tremble on its surface, and she took another sip. The falling showers soon became so dense that the coffee shop window could be mistaken for an aquarium.

Splash, sprinkle, and an endless trinkle. The road became a stream, the street filled up with liquid, and everything outside suspended in itself, amidst the clear blue. Cars tipped sideways! A bycicle cycled on itself. Passers-by started floating, motioning in a spell of weightlessness, their clothes suddenly alive, faces in a subdued panic. The girl in the coffee shop stared, musingly, at the peaceful water world. Her pages seemed to flow with the tinkering of light from the far-away surface.

Then, two gloved hands appeared in the uppermost door frame of the coffee shop. A masked face appeared between them.

It was a diver, in full scuba diving gear. He looked at an upside-down coffee shop, expelling a long breath. Upside-down chairs, upside-down people, and, somewhere in between, an upside-down her.

He hesitated for a moment. Then, with the tiniest flick of the fins and a momentary lapse of breathing, he let himself fall towards the ground. She could hear his diving computer beeping closer, and his breathing powdering the ceiling with wondering, confused bubbles. Coffee drinkers around her stared at the strange newcomer.

‘Hey’, she whispered. The diver came closer, curious. She had the dreamiest of eyes and a calm smile. He noticed her writing, stopped in the the middle of a sentence, her eyes, speeding through a million thoughts, her fingers, trembling–

A knock on the window made him jump. On the street, another diver made a gesture at his left hand, remembering him to check his air.

With a sunken feeling, he glanced at his manometer, and realised his air was almost up. Her eyes paused for a moment, and she understood. She gave him a hug. Bubbles lifted from his lungs, ever so lightly, ever so slowly.

For all of a moment, the diver wondered how deep he was. For how long had he been at this depth? Was, by any chance, the nitrogen affecting his reason?

Anyway, it was time to go. Gently he floated away, crossing the coffee shop door, and — ever so softly — ballooning up towards the sky. She sat down, returning to her coffee, her writing, her life, and all of her ten trembling fingers.

The coffee shop’s ceiling glistened in silver, with all of his captured air.

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