“I am… take me… the hospital…” she struggles to continue, as I hear her breathe heavily over the phone.
“I’m coming home. Use… use the inhaler, baby. It’s right under your pillow!” I stammer, and scramble for my car keys.
“No… It won’t help… this is… too much… ” she inhales with all her might; her muffled coughs pour into my ears and turn into drops of molten metal that make their way to the sweltering confines of my chest.
“I am driving home. Stay calm, baby. Use the inhaler. It will work. I’m right there with you. Sit by our window,” I try to comfort her, as I hastily turn the keys.
The stereo of my car comes back to life, with Lana singing along- ‘I put the radio on, hold you tight in my mind…’
I steer out of my office, and realize how things are not the same anymore. The roads are alien to me, and I don’t know where home is.
‘Isn’t it strange that you’re not here with me…’ Lana croons along.
“Why are you… crying… baby?” she questions; her words as scattered as they were a while ago.
“I don’t know where home is. I am driving back to you. But I don’t know where to go, baby. I’ll be right there with you.”
“But why are you crying?” her voice grows louder. Loud enough to flick my eyes open. In the darkness of the room, I find myself lying on my bed with my earphones plugged.
“Why are you crying? Tell me what happened?”
“It was a dream, baby. I dozed off while talking to you. Why didn’t you disconnect the call?” I ask, feeling the wet surface of my pillow. A cool breeze chills the folds of my sweaty neck.
“I was listening to you sleep. Do you know you’ve started snoring a little?” her chirps pour into my ears, turn into dewdrops that make their way to my eyes and escape as tears that roll down my cheek to dissolve into a faint smile.
“Are you sure you don’t get asthma attacks anymore?” I ask her, trying hard to dismiss the remnants of the nightmare.
“Aha, yes my dear. The doctor even told me that the exercises have worked well. See, I can breathe like you now,” she breathes into the phone. I memorize the ruffle of her breath. It is the only sound that soothes me more than what the first chirrup of an early morning bird does; perhaps even more fulfilling than the sound of her telling me that she loves me.
“What was the dream? Why were you crying?” she asks, concerned, and falls silent.
“I saw you grow old, and though it felt like the most honest moment of my life, it hurt to realize that we’d have to die soon,” I say, and sense her smile secretly. I am the only liar she loves.
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