The night before she passed away, I took a run through Lexi’s neighborhood. It was summer, and the air fell heavy and oppressive from above the trees, the pale evening painting ashen grey the branches as they slumped beneath its heat. I’ve told this story several times before, but like the night itself, the memory returns to me as new and vivid as the evening that awaits us even now.

It was after dark, and the lights of West Vancouver made a halo rise up over the bay, a fog almost, but bright and pulsing, catching on the wiry clouds that hardly moved above me. I suppose I tried to run from the awareness that my sister lie just barely breathing in that evening too, from an understanding of how tenuous our hold on all this really is. Her heart and lungs labored in a sterile room of pale walls and plastic boxes sounding out the rhythms that they made. My heart and lungs alive and burning, feasting on the air with avarice, gluttonous and mocking.

On a trail cutting through a wooded park that crowned a hill, the pathway lined with planks to help my footing as I ran, I slowed to watch the city lights glint across the bay. Inky black and chopping in the ocean breeze, the water stole the BC skyline for itself, breathed into it life the city on its own could never have.

Everything is only borrowed. Every breath I take belongs to someone else.

I stopped to catch my breath and when I did I saw the buildings on the water dance. The heat within my legs, the burning in my lungs and throat engorged with air and blood beneath the moon, my sister’s cooling pulse and waxen skin glossed over by florescent lights. If I could own a heartbeat. If I could only steal another breath and run a mile more.

If I could rob the city of its light and give it to her eyes again.


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