Authors: Martha Sweeney
TRILOGY BOX SET
Books that are Included
(Just Breathe series Trilogy: books #1, #2 and #3: Breathe In, Breathe Out, and Just Breathe) written by Martha Sweeney
Copyright © 2016 Martha Sweeney
Publishing 2016 Kralik Consultants
Copy Editors: Martha Sweeney & Thomas Sweeney
Cover Design: Martha Sweeney
Interior Design and Formatting: Martha Sweeney & Thomas Sweeney
All rights reserved. This book was self-published by the author, Martha Sweeney, under Kralik Consultants LLC. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any means without the express written permission of the author. This includes reprints, excerpts, photocopying, recording, or any future means of reproducing text and stories.
If you would like to do any of the above, please seek permission first by contacting the author at:
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Published in The United States by Kralik Consultants
ISBN: 978-0-9862272-9-5 (ebook Just Breathe Trilogy Box Set)
A JUST BREATHE NOVEL
Thank you, my best friend, my partner, my lover, the love of my life, my husband, Thomas Sweeney, for our relationship that others look at and wonder how we do it. Here’s to our love, our laughter and our weird kookiness as we continue this wonderful journey we call life. May others find and enjoy the kind of love we share! I love you.
As I attempt to lift my heavy eyelids, I discover a hazy darkness surrounding me. Blinking slowly several times, my half-opened eyes won’t focus to give me any clear indication of what’s around me and where the blurry, flashing lights above are coming from. My body feels heavy. Still unable to open my eyes all the way, I perceive that I’m laying down somewhere. A cool dampness near my left cheek reveals itself as a slight gust of air brushes past my face. Sliding my right arm up the side of my body like a snake, my fingers creep to my lips. Drool — or, at least I hope so.
Two large and oddly shaped figures materialize in front of me. They are so close, only a foot or two away. Voices suddenly emanate from the now more defined silhouettes. Their speech sounds muffled and trails off into the distance even as I try to concentrate on their words. Who are they? What are they saying? Why can’t I understand them? One of the voices almost sounds feminine.
Another indistinguishable sound gradually becomes more apparent as it grows louder and the ringing in my ears subsides. It’s the engine of a car. My brain finally starts to put the fuzzy pieces of evidence together. I must have fallen asleep in the back seat. A familiar smell creeps into my nose that reassures me — my mother’s perfume.
“Mom?” my throat squeezes out in a raw, breathy, hoarse tone.
“We’re almost home, dear,” her voice replies in a low, sluggish tone.
I internally smile at her comforting words, though her voice sounds peculiar.
A sudden rush of nervousness enters my belly. The car feels as if it’s flying down the road like a rocket ship as the speed of the flashing lights zooming above my head all blur into one.
“Mom,” I try to shout, but not a single sound escapes my mouth this time. Confused, I try again. “Mom!”
She doesn’t hear me. I don’t hear me.
A single, bright white light races towards us, growing larger by the second. My mother turns her head towards me smiling. Why doesn’t she hear me? How does she not see the light?
Again, with all my might. “Mom . . . !” my voice trails in my head like a deafening siren, stabbing my ears like a knife.
Time stops in this very moment. I can see everything with perfect clarity as I stare in horror into my mother’s eyes. My mouth is left open, still screaming without a sound. I can’t hear anything except a piercing ring that echoes in my body. Why can’t she hear me? Why doesn’t she see the terrified look on my face?
My body lurches backward as I attempt to scramble to grab my mother and I suddenly become paralyzed. Then, it happens all at once — I hear the sound of metal hitting metal as it wraps itself around and around. I watch my parents’ bodies hurling forward toward the oncoming truck, bouncing around like ping pong balls, getting dented with each blow.
My heart is filled with terror as I desperately try to yell one more time, “Mom . . . !”
Jerking awake, I shout out in despair. The pounding of my heart and heaving of my lungs is only matched by the shaking that racks my body. Whimpers of a dog and the gift of warm, wet licks on my chin and neck draw my attention. Sadie is consoling me. It was just a dream. Yes, just a dream.
Wrapping my arms around Sadie’s neck allows me to regain my composure. Mortified, a tear rolls down my right cheek. It wasn’t just a dream — it’s my mind’s attempt to reconcile the death of my parents, even though I can’t recall anything.
It’s a nightmare that I haven’t had in quite some time. It shouldn’t surprise me for all the times I’ve dreamt it, but it does since I don’t wake up like that lately near as often. I used to start every morning that way. Now, not so much. Yet, when it does happen, the effect is still the same.
I’ve been haunted by this vision since the day I regained consciousness in the hospital. Thrashing my body around and pulling out the I.V. the first time caused the hospital staff to sedate and strap me to the bed. It took four more times of the nightmare, plus heavy medication, before my mind and body finally became sedentary and numb enough to allow me to recognize where I was, the devastating pain I felt all over and in my heart, and that the memory was real.
It’s not easy to find out from a stranger that your parents died in the horrific vision that keeps reoccurring in your head each time you sleep.
Well, there’s no way I’m going back to sleep now, not that I ever did after having
Kissing the top of Sadie’s head before looking directly at her, I half-heartily smile and say, “Looks like it’s an extra early morning for us, girl.”
Sadie’s mouth drops open and her tongue flops out as a sign of relief.
She licks my chin two more times knowing the meaning of those words and jumps off the bed in excitement. Stopping in the doorway, Sadie looks over her shoulder at me to see if I’m following yet.
“I’m coming, I’m coming . . .” I retort as I slide my legs to the side of the bed, stretch my arms up and yawn.
I prepare Sadie’s meals a few days in advance based on what I’ve picked up at the store, farmers market or had delivered. Her diet consists of all raw meats, fruits, veggies and/or seasonings. On occasion, I get her fresh beef or bison bones to chew on. Only the best for my little Sadie. Grabbing a glass container from the fridge, I dump the contents into Sadie’s food bowl and add some turmeric and dried basil for extra flavoring and nutrition.
While Sadie eats, I mix and gulp down my morning routine of water with bentonite clay. There’s nothing like cleansing the body before a yummy organic smoothie followed by a vigorous workout. To most, I’m a health nut. My two best friends tease me sometimes at how strict I am with my eating habits. I love food, don’t get me wrong, but I love good food and I only eat the best.
I relieve myself before taking Sadie out. She follows me to the bathroom with her leash in tow as if that speeds up the process. Sadie doesn’t really need the leash, it’s more for the community. The apartment complex likes dogs. They allow pets in the buildings, but because others can’t train their own animals properly, which caused an incident, all pets have to be leashed. Even if this rule wasn’t in place, most of my neighbors would freak out if they didn’t see Sadie on a leash. For starters, I’m a very quiet and private person. They don’t know me and my ability to control Sadie. Second, Sadie is a pure breed pit bull. Her breed has a bad wrap for being vicious; a result due to the lack of competent owners only.
Once outside our gated apartment community, the cool winter air nips at my fingers as I unhook Sadie’s leash. She stays close to my heels on my right side as we walk to the corner before crossing the street in front of the park. Sadie is trotting with excitement, but remains reserved. It’s a part of her demeanor. She’s a playful, loving, yet protective three-year-old. I wouldn’t have her any other way.
On the edge of the grass, Sadie waits for my command to run. She would never run or leave my side in public unless I give her the signal. I sign for her to go and she takes off to the closest tree to relieve herself. She stays nearby sniffing, watching and waiting for me as I clean up after her. It’s too early for the kids to be out playing on the jungle gym, so Sadie is left to playing catch with her favorite natural rubber ball until she tires.
Even in late winter, California is still beautiful and nowhere near as cold as the East Coast. I don’t miss the gloomy Spring and Autumn days, cold, bitter Winters or humid Summers. California is home now and has been since I was sixteen. I love how quiet Pasadena is at four o’clock in the morning.
After a long morning exercise session for Sadie, I’m back in my two bedroom apartment with Sadie sitting on the kitchen floor watching me prepare my smoothie, hoping that I might drop something as she gnaws on her naturally harvested deer antler. Her head bounces between my hands and the floor. She wouldn’t go after food even if it did drop. Sadie would just wait patiently until I told her to eat it. She’s too cute. As I drink my breakfast, a smoothie consisting of banana, strawberries, blueberries, mango, coconut milk, turmeric, cinnamon, and a raw egg, I plop myself down in front of my computer to check emails as Sadie lays at my feet. I love working from home. It makes things so much easier. No LA traffic. No distractions. Well, no distractions other than Sadie, but she’s always a welcome distraction. Once I finish checking my emails, I start my workout music playlist and then clean out my cup. Time to stretch and rebound.
I work out longer than usual. Ok, it’s not unusual on the days I wake up like I did today, but it’s not as common as it used to be. Finally physically drained after about an hour, I stretch again. Sadie decides she needs some attention and lays across my right leg within a few seconds of me getting on the floor. Her full weight is on me and I can’t help but laugh.
Reluctant to check the time, I roll my eyes when I find out that it is still very early. Well, not too early for me, but early for most people, including my best friend Jared. I don’t think Jared has ever been up this early in the morning, ever, unless he’s been up all night and never went to sleep. I decide to text Jared a happy g
before hopping into the shower.
By the time Jared calls, I’ve completely showered, dressed, ate a raw organic yogurt and granola with blackberries and figs, played with Sadie for about fifteen minutes, made my to-do list for the next two weeks, responded to inquiries for my business, Naturally Me, started writing outlines for three months worth of blog and video topics, and plotted out what I’d like to see in our social media marketing campaigns that will be used after the already planned and almost completed next quarter.
Before I can even mutter a
, Jared immediately questions, “Had the dream again?”
Trying to deny it, I reply, “Uh, good morning to you too.”
I know he knows. It’s obvious with how early I texted.
“It’s been a while since the last one,” Jared says with concern in his voice. “You okay,
Unable to avoid the subject, I reply, “Yeah.”
“I’m on my way over to get started on all the stuff you’ve drafted,” Jared replies, knowing my habits. “You know I don’t get up this early for anyone else — unless he’s naked and in my bed.”
“Yes, I know. And, that’s why I love you,” I profess, trying to butter him up before he sees the mountain of work I’ve done and have planned.
“Yeah, yeah. I love you too,” he says warmly. “Do you need me to pick up anything?”
“Okay. I’ll be there soon. Smooches.”
He’s perky now. That’s a good sign for it being almost six-fifty in the morning.
“Smooches,” I reply with a smile on my face.
Knowing that Jared’s on his way, I decide to stop and take a break for a bit. Sadie joins me on the couch to snuggle, laying completely on my body with her head tucked just under my jaw.