At night I lie awake and listen to the breathing around me. The gentle rise and fall of a chest as it sleeps. And I check that I can hear everyone. E–, beside me in bed, is the easiest. I tune him out to hear the others.
J–, in the room across the hall. He sleeps fitfully when he’s sick. Sometimes he snores. And when I can only barely hear him I know he’s breathing easy.
Then the dogs: Miles, Chester, and Gabby. They are usually on the bed too. Or spread out on the floor around it. They have distinct sounds when they sleep. Miles whistles slightly through his nose. Chester does too, only a little deeper. And Gabby, with her little flat face and short nose, sounds like she’s breathing through a straw. Sometimes she sighs really loud.
And I listen for them. For the five breaths around me to know they are there. To know not to worry.
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