Down The Wrong Way


Lauren Harkawik
Nov 4 · 1 min read
Photo by Henry Be on Unsplash

I was sitting.
Thinking about —
How all my friends have cleaning ladies.
Something I don’t deserve,
Or didn’t earn.
Or can’t justify.
Plus I work from home. Would she be here when I am?

I took a swig of water, to hydrate, contemplate.
And it went down the wrong way.
My body tensed up —
I still had a mouthful.
But my throat was squirming,
Begging to cough.

People don’t die from this, I thought, as I walked toward the sink.
The cough squirmed, threatening to let the water spill everywhere
I spit it with fury,
Coughed hard, letting it all out.

I closed my eyes and breathed in.
People don’t die from this,
But every time I come close to choking, I’m reminded.
Life is fragile.
No one is more worthy than anyone else.

I sat back down with a tissue, blowing the close call out of my nostrils.
And I wondered:

The cleaning lady.

What did this brush with water teach?
Do I deserve one,

Lauren Harkawik

Written by

Essayist, fiction writer + local reporter in VT. She/her.

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