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Elektra

Panic in the Theatre

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Hi guys! When I first joined I mentioned writing...and never actually shared. So this is my first short story. Be good, be kind, and you can also be critical if need be but patiently : English isn't my first language, and I'm always ready to learn more. Enjoy !:D

“Panic at the Theater.”

I sat in the wide theater, a room that held more than 1000 seats and was filled almost to the brim.  The multitude of bodies assembled in one place caused a dry heat, intensified by a general heating system that sucked the moisture right out of the air.

As usual, this created some discomfort for me. My airways felt dry and clogged, the back of my throat sticky and annoying, like an itch you can’t scratch. Maybe that’s why I paid little attention to my neighbor, who coughed haltingly into his hand. At first, he tried to hold back, obviously going for discretion in the midst of an enclosed space full of people.

Besides, he wasn’t the only one by far. The whole theater resonated with muffled coughs, clearing throats and occasional sneezes, as if the crowd, expecting the show to begin any moment, was seizing their last occasion to be noisy.

My neighbor, however, was hardly conspicuous. So little so, in fact, that when I finally noticed enough to inquire, he must have been several minutes into his almost silent coughing fit, for he met my gaze with teary eyes and a reddening face. I was suddenly uneasy.

“You okay?” I said softly, following his cue and tuning my voice for him alone.

              He gave me an apologetic smile, seemingly embarrassed, but didn’t stop wheezing for all of it. I frowned as I caught him glance towards the exit, and abruptly understood his quandary : leaving the room would allow him to free himself from the self-imposed restraint –but he’d have to get through a half-row of seated persons.

“Damn,” I murmured, sympathetically.

              His distress increased, though he chose to remain where he was, and as he began to choke in earnest he stopped holding back, no longer worried about noise. Neither was I anymore : as he bent double, struggling for breath, my concern shifted from the audience to more immediate issues.

“Hey’, I tried to lean over him, touching his back lightly, still awkward.

“I think I need to –“The man began, but was abruptly cut off as his violent coughing resumed. Coming to a decision, he staggered to his feet, pushing through the press of people and stumbling against legs and feet. I cursed, and on an impulse, followed him out, triggering a wave of unpleasant reactions in my wake.

The show had to launch at that most unpractical moment, of course. The lights dimmed, and I cursed again, almost falling as I finally exited the row with a feeling of guilty relief. My neighbor was already out as I padded across the darkening corridors, sounds blanketed by the carpeted walls as the door closed behind me.

He reached the man’s room one step ahead of me, and finally hacked brutally as the pressure of our being surrounded eased off. I halted at the door to give him privacy, and remained alert, strangely distraught by empathy, and I winced at the sounds the cough tore from his throat. My reserve soon gave in, though: when I saw him slide against the wall to a crouching position, his shoulders shaking with the strain, I strode into the men’s room in alarm.

He held himself with one hand propped against the floor, the other to his chest, and wheezed panickedly on each exhale. I knelt by him, all shyness forgotten, putting a supportive hand on his shoulder.

“Hey, easy, easy. Is this asthma?” I asked.

              When he didn’t reply, I looked up at his face and found him nodding, his eyes wide.

“It’s alright”, I said with more assurance than I felt. “You must have Ventolin somewhere?”

              The lean man gripped my hand with the strength of someone drowning.

“Back pocket” He uttered with some difficulty, before launching into another attack. I followed his gaze, and realized his small bag laid upturned on the floor, where he must have dropped it in his haste.

“Got it!” I let out crisply, and rushed to empty it.

Soon I found the object and passed it on to the choking man. As he drew up to inhale as much as he could of the spray, I slipped a steadying arm under his shoulders and endeavored to hold him upright through the spasms that shook him. Releasing the inhaler at last, he blew off slowly until he no longer could. It looked like a long-practiced gesture to me, one born out of the force of habit, and even when he bent over to cough wetly, I saw he was already back in control of himself.

              After a while, he stood up without my support and leaned on the sink, his back to me.

“Thank you”, He said simply and honestly, so his words strangely moved me. I nodded, and swallowed a little painfully.

“Sure. That…happens often?” I asked at length, hesitant.

              The stranger cleared his throat, still breathing hard, and shrugged.

“Had been a while”, He admitted, a little hoarse. Then he gestured towards the theater. “I’m sorry I made you miss….”

“Oh no, don’t worry. You —you sure you’re gonna be okay?”

He graced me with his first full-fledged smile.

“Maybe we can –try and watch the show, now.” He coughed quietly. “That way, you can keep an eye on me.”

I might have blushed, then.

“Right”, I drawled, regaining my composure. “I doubt I’ll be of much use to you. But –“ I bent to pick up the inhaler off the floor and smirked. “I can hold on to this for you if you will.”

*The End*

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Wow! At first, I was not really a fan of fiction involving asthma, but this short story changed my mind! It was so sweet when the man held on to the narrator's hand while he was having that asthma attack. Keep writing more short stories.

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Oh whoa Thank you Bingo :notworthy:

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Terrific! I really enjoyed this short story. thanks so much for sharing. I would love to read more about these two, and the main POV taking care of his friend with weak lungs. <3

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Thank you Kitty! POV?

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That was so cute! I really enjoyed it, thank you! I love asthma fictions, there's never enough of them so, again, thank you @Elektra 😊

 

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Thanks Coffee Mug :wine:*pleased smile*

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I had to read this even though it was tagged "male" because there are so few stories like this around...  let me just say that this is awesome and hits all the right notes for me.  I'm going to have to drop this into a word processor or something and swap all the male pronouns with female and vice versa so I can enjoy it properly :) 

Great work!

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Oh Smokey...*pleased blush* thank you! I never write female, but given the pleasure I took with your Deviant art and Val especially, I can try my hand at female fanfic sometime if you tell me what you're into (though i've started to figure some of it out hehe=)

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On ‎1‎/‎3‎/‎2017 at 5:08 PM, Elektra said:

Oh Smokey...*pleased blush* thank you! I never write female, but given the pleasure I took with your Deviant art and Val especially, I can try my hand at female fanfic sometime if you tell me what you're into (though i've started to figure some of it out hehe=)

Trust me, I don't need to tell you a thing about what to write... I think if I did it wouldn't be as good.  I'd get down on my knees and beg you to write a female story if I could :)

And I'm flattered that you liked Val.  (I WILL pick up that story again someday :)) Hey, if you ever had the desire to help me fill in her backstory with a story of your own I'd welcome the collaboration.  I'd be happy to fill you in on my outline for the character and who she is and what she's all about.

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