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Breath of Life

Oct 28th, 2013
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  1. One night, in a room lit by the glow of my monitor, I finished the final fold on a little origami dragon. A slight smile on my face, I let out a long breath, stretching up and back, wishing I had the right height desk.
  2.  
  3. Movement in the corner of my eye, I glanced down. Nothing stirred, the screen unchanged and dragon as I left it.
  4.  
  5. A week went by and the setting came around again.
  6.  
  7. I'd lost track of time, fiddling away to try and fix up the front legs so they lined up nicely. Normally I raise a hand to my mouth when I yawn, more on muscle memory than politeness. However, I had a paper turtle pinched between my fingers and so exhaled all over it.
  8.  
  9. Then, it shifted beneath my fingers.
  10.  
  11. I dropped it, fluttering down to the table. Somehow, it landed legs down, wobbling on the uneven legs. Staring at it, a million and none thoughts went through my head, a mantra saying, “You're tired, time for sleep,” denying what I felt.
  12.  
  13. But my denial could only stretch so far.
  14.  
  15. Easing a leg down a few millimetres, the turtle stilled, its rocking ceasing. The other leg closed the gap to the table, settling the faux-creature into an even stabler position. So slowly I couldn't convince myself it actually moved, the tiny head raised up, twisting to eventually look towards me.
  16.  
  17. I swallowed, throat dry and heart beating.
  18.  
  19. Unable to handle any more, I pushed myself away from the desk and moved on instinct, going to sleep and leaving the memory so burned into my psyche to mix with dreams.
  20.  
  21. A couple of months go by, origami paper left in a drawer alongside my creations, before I dare touch it again.
  22.  
  23. I'd convinced myself that dreams had bled into my memory, that I'd woken up and been freaked out by it enough to remember. So, I set about folding and creasing, creating shape from nothingness. A crane, like I'd made dozens of times before, sat on my palm, unmoving.
  24.  
  25. Chuckling to myself, I berated having such an over eager imagination.
  26.  
  27. To prove my stupidity, I gave the crane a breath.
  28.  
  29. My smile lasted until I felt the paper shiver. As though being folded by a ghost, subtle flexing ran over the surface, ripples on a warped plane.
  30.  
  31. Frozen, I held my hand still, transfixed on the fluidity with which the material gained, firm turning flimsy. Still shaped like a crane, its posture resembled that of a swan, wings tucked against its side, the neck folding back at the base while curving to keep the head level.
  32.  
  33. At some point, I breathed again and the crane looked up. Despite having no eyes, I could feel its gaze. We stared at each other, making it painfully obvious that it never sat still, there always being a subtle sway to its neck, a shuffle of its wings, the lowered tail keeping it balanced.
  34.  
  35. So many questions on my mind, yet my hand moved by its own accord, inching towards it before finally stopping a hair away. A beat passed, then it moved its head forward, nuzzling against my finger.
  36.  
  37. Though the texture should have been rough, it felt soft, warm even. In that moment, I realised that none of my questions mattered.
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