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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Breathe (08/19/10)

TITLE: A second chance
By Catherine McQuiston


"Help! It burns! SOMEONE HELP ME!”
Brenda awoke and took in a breath and pain brought her back to reality. She looked downward towards her feet; the only part of her body not covered in burn cloths. Her vision foggy from the medication she was on, which only numbed the pain just enough to keep her feeling. Another breath and she could feel the burn still fresh on her skin.

Last night everything went so wrong. The fight she had with her boyfriend, put her mind in a whirlwind. This fight was different than the rest and she tried calling for help, but Shane said something that made her heart sink lower into her chest and she finally gave in and gave up. As she spilled the lacquer thinner and lit the match to her cigarette she said bye to the world and bye to the life she couldn’t deal with. She soon realized that this too was something she couldn’t handle. As she screamed louder, Shane rushed in and pushed her into the bathtub and doused her with the cold water from the shower. She collapsed and woke up here: at the Miami Hospital Burn Unit.

“Hey there beautiful” her sister Cat said in a sobbing voice.

“Please don’t cry. I can’t breathe without pain and crying will make me pass out right now. I’m so sorry. It was an accident.”

As Cat stood there looking at her sister, pain, anger and sorrow filled her heart. She wondered what would cause Brenda to reach such a breaking point in her life and want to throw it all away. Before she could ask, the doctors came in and said it was time for Brenda to prepare for surgery. She needed skin grafts done where the skin was too far gone. Brenda held her sister’s hand all the way to the OR doors and then said good bye.

Ten long hours later, Cat entered the hospital room to a scene that still haunts her to this day. For a person who was supposed to be knocked out still from the anesthesia, she was screaming in horrid cries of pain, tears rolling down her beat red face, her eyes blood shot from trying to hold it together, and her body was shaking all over.

Not knowing how to handle this, Cat did the only thing she could think of to calm her sister down. She sang softly as she approached her sister, “God please help your daughter, she’s feeling oh so much. Pain is through her body and she needs your healing touch. Please just take the pain away, if only for a while. Bring this little girl of yours back to a joyful smile.”

“Cat, I can’t breathe. They stripped skin from my body and put it on my legs. This pain is going to kill me. I need air and can’t get enough. Everything is in black and red. I can’t breathe.! I CAN‘T BREATHE!

Cat continued to try and calm Brenda with soft words. This time she prayed over her sister, putting her hand to her Brenda’s porcelain cheek saying “God, if it is air that we need in order to stay alive, please breathe into Brenda’s lungs as it is too hard for her to do right now. Soften the grip that death has on her and allow her to heal. She is sorry for what has happened and she is ready and willing to survive and fight this battle that is ahead of her. Please help her to relax so she can rest for the battle is going to be long and hard.” Cat leaned over and kissed her sister on the forehead. She wiped the tears from her cheek and said, “God is here, but He needs you to let Him help you. Will you find the calmness that I know is in you and give your pain to God? Let the pain go out of you and up to Him. He will help you find the strength to keep breathing and lessen your pain if you just believe trust in Him.”

Biting her lower lip and still sobbing Brenda shook her head and closed her eyes. Her body relaxed and the shakiness left her. She took in a slow, long, deep breath and tears rolled down her face. She opened her heavy eyelids and looked up to Heaven and said, “Thank you God.” and then closed her eyes to sleep.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/26/10
Wow you brought the desperate feelings of one who had tried to kill herself to the surface. You missed a quotation mark here and there but once I got over that I was holding my breath, imagining the internal and external pain the MC was experiencing.
Kara Dunham 08/27/10
I really liked the emotion put into this piece. There were a few rough spots, but overall I think you did a good job at portraying a unique and emotional story.
AnneRene' Capp08/27/10
What a wonderfully told account of such desperate despair, that so many of us have walked through. You conveyed the depth of such a horrific ordeal, meticulously and believe this story will make others actually stop and think, before responding to their own anguishing pain in a rash moment.