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Bill of Health

Updated: Oct 23, 2018

All the aggravation had given him mental acid reflux. The natural smell of gas would be unnoticeable lest the company hadn’t decided to include the artificial smell in order to clarify the potential danger. And electricity is concealed within its underground wiry network and pragmatizes on request. All in all, invisible matter. He knew the best things in life are for free, but there are only so many flyers and tiny perfumes he could hoard.

And the bills, they were real alright! In papyric glory they unfolded and they unrolled to the ground, bouncing at first to unravel in between his legs and down the first two flights of stairs. The humanity of it all! It felt as real as belly fluff currency.

His fingers pulsated white with pressure against the grinding and moulding action upon his temples. A tear rolled down, a tiny self-contained life source that bubbled in the prime stages of his outburst.

What next? A withdrawal fee for each drop and a fine for each overdrawn sob? Or maybe a surplus charge for unwarranted laughing fits *giggles not included*

The strain, the joke of it all! He pulled hard at the back of his hair and pressed even harder at his face as if he could distort his skull into something less human.

He sighed. He breathed. Deeply and slowly. Wonder how much that will cost me, he thought in resignation. That’s when he heard the penny drop (how helpful it would’ve been!). Of course, the cost of living descends from the prime fabrication of life itself. The heart and lungs, they pulsate the steady rhythm of expected currency intake and differ to accommodate the individual. He stopped and felt his eyes bulge with revelation.

Manically he fumbled for his calculator and denominated. A persons breathing varies anything from 15,000 to 20,000 intakes a day. Interesting. He doesn’t smoke so he’d probably be caught in the lower bracket, a start. So if a person, like himself were to breathe 15,000 times a day, that would round up to (tap, tap to an infuriating result) – 420,000 bloody times a month and those months only included February three years out of four.

His outgoings amounted to – He grabbed a bill, turned it over to its blank, less insulting side and wrote –

- Rent -£550

- Electricity -£45

- Council Tax -£50

- Gas -£50

- Water -£50

- Parking -£30

- Insurance -£60

- TV license -£10

- Phone -£45

- Alimony -£200

1069 pounds before he got out of bed, before he welcomed the sun and before he could wolf down his weetabix without having them reach that soft ethereal state.

So each individual breath cost him a shocking 0.025p a pop. His choice was simple, organic and practical. Anything to reduce future inflation (of lung and money of course).

He grabbed his coat and a taxi to the Well Care centre. Trying to avoid palpitations and excitement he fumbled his lapels as he run his fingers on the billboard, tearing down future prospects and impending economic distress. He signed up for yoga, aerobics, swimming, Pilates and meditation classes, any lung expansive aid that came his way he grabbed without letting his breathing guard slip. He counted and reduced. He had started at an average 12 breaths a minute to a stunning 5 within the first month.

He found however that regular eating distorted his meditation, so he reduced this in order to concentrate on his want. He eventually did find out his life became less costly (an outsider would have accounted the lack of food, shopping and outings a large contributor), so pleased with his choice, he emaciated and rejoiced.

His tunnel vision gave him divination and his pallid complexion, clarity. Arduous muscle stretching and lucidity made him believe he had reduced his breathing to once every three hours, however, no one could be sure whether he had in fact accomplished such a feat that resulted to his coma, or that this was a projection of fantastical achievement in his big sleep.

After the first intensive month, he opened his eyes to see an unfamiliar face loom over him to tell him not to be afraid. How could he? The feng shui was fabulous and the food required no distraction (it being fed through a tube) and the breathing machine completed his mission to zero cost. Free from the chains of his linen enemy to enjoy a life not stolen from him!

Never again would his trouser pockets loosen with the unloading of his hard-earned change! Not that a hospital gown of course provides this luxury anyway.




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© 2016 by Phaedra Vlahos.

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