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Hard Breathing

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I slowly slip into consciousness. There is nothing; it's all dark. I then gain my other senses, feeling my back against an uncomfortable hard surface. I smell fresh saw dust, as one would smell in a Home Depot. Then comes the taste of sawdust and grain making my mouth crave any sort of liquid to quench my thirst. Now the heat sets in. I realize it's only just at a bearable level. I'm sweating and my general musk is making the air humid. I still cannot see.

I start to breathe heavy and put my hands in front of me. I feel thick, grainy wood no more than six inches in front of my face. I now realize I'm in a coffin. I’m in my deathbed. I am going to die.

After what felt like an hour pounding all sides of the coffin, I relinquish my strength to the air. I lay back, knowing death won’t come quickly. My fate now would either be starvation, dehydration, heat stroke, or more likely, suffocation. My worst fear: gasping for air and no relief in sight. I have often been afraid of swimming or any other situation where I could be deprived of oxygen. As I'm thinking of this torture, I feel my lips. They are dry, like the desert sands. Now all that flashes in my mind is a dry and desolate desert with nothing but animal skulls and carcasses shriveling up in the scorching sun.

After what felt like another hour, I start to fall asleep. I hear a beat off in the distance. I convince myself it’s just a vein in the side of my head throbbing. The longer it persists, the less I believe it’s an internal occurrence. Then it becomes so loud that I cannot fool myself into believing it’s my mental or a physical problem. I slowly turn my head and see cracks become clear with a dim orange light shining through. Not enough to light the coffin, but enough to line the edge of my tomb. Now along with the drums I hear chanting, in some language that I could not comprehend. It was almost a mix of Arabic and German.

I start to shake violently out of fear. All of the sudden, the chanting stops, but the drums only slow to a mild beat. My heart finally slows to the pace. I do not yell, because I believe I am in here for a reason, and these people know the reason. Then I hear it; I know the sound. It's the crackle of fire.

I hear shuffling around the outside of the box. Then another familiar stench: gasoline. Now the sound of splashing, shuffling, and crackling give me the all too obvious sign of what is going to happen. I feel the gasoline dripping on my legs.

Suddenly, everything goes silent. All I can hear is my breath, and the crackle of the fire. In a sudden burst, the fire engulfs the part of the box where my legs are. I scream in agony, and cannot shed the fire off. I bang on the box till my hands bleed. I scratch and yell but get no answer. Finally, the box falls apart and I fall to the ground burning. I roll to get the flames off and finally they extinguish. I catch my breath and see people in cloaks around me. I am too shaken to say a word. One man takes his hood off. I cannot believe my eyes; it's my own father. He walks to me and gets on one knee, kisses me on the head. I feel a sharp pain in my chest. He stands up. As I look down, I see a burning piece of wood from the box sticking out of my chest. I fall, lifeless, motionless, one tear falling down my cheek, as I exhale my last breath.

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