Breath of Life
- 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.
- Movement in the corner of my eye, I glanced down. Nothing stirred, the screen unchanged and dragon as I left it.
- A week went by and the setting came around again.
- 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.
- Then, it shifted beneath my fingers.
- 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.
- But my denial could only stretch so far.
- 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.
- I swallowed, throat dry and heart beating.
- 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.
- A couple of months go by, origami paper left in a drawer alongside my creations, before I dare touch it again.
- 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.
- Chuckling to myself, I berated having such an over eager imagination.
- To prove my stupidity, I gave the crane a breath.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Though the texture should have been rough, it felt soft, warm even. In that moment, I realised that none of my questions mattered.
RAW Paste Data Copied