I knew I was sickly since childhood. Coughing fits, rashes, bad runny nose — the same kind of allergic reactions that were common because of pollen and fur. I knew that and dealt with it for the entirety of my life: breezing through adulthood and was happily employed while keeping my allergic reactions at bay.
What I didn’t prepare myself for was suffering from an allergic reaction because of another human.
Yes, another living, breathing person who – without much knowledge about this circumstance – caused me mild suffocation. It was a pain. I could still remember our interaction back when we were young. And he had that look on his face like it was all my fault that both of us were clutching our chests and that our moms were dead worried.
He and I both had an accident, in a simultaneous, really-weird coincidence and condition. But of course when a small kid like myself accidentally sit on another kid’s body, trying my best to catch my breath, he also thrashed underneath catching his. I remembered him only trying to help because my hard-headed self climbed up the tree to reach a toy balloon and — well, you know how that ended.
My lungs felt constricting and vision blurry. I heard him yelling from the ground and I recognized this reaction from the previous fits I experienced. I was having those things again and before I realized it, I had fallen off. And then him cushioning my weight. Oh, how he groaned.
I was pale. So was he. And we both had our tiny hands on our chests and chills were sending emergency signals in my head. Mom immediately rushed to my aid, so did his won mom.
In the end of the day, when he and his mom were waving good byes, it was the last time I ever saw of him.
Ten years passed. The sensation felt like it was only yesterday. How annoying it was to discover having this condition can be caused by another human. Did it mean I have to avoid certain people if I were to experience the same thing again? Thankfully it only happened once.
In a bizarre sort of way, during a lunch hour between coworkers, what had transpired back then to me seemed to be common to other people as well. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing that I almost dropped the dimsum from my chopstick.
“Like, man. I totally couldn’t breathe! As if the air was gone and was panicking like hell. I thought I was done for!” His male coworker exasperated, spitting a bit of rice as he continued, “But even when I had that reaction, it took a hug from her to make me feel better again. Like, wham! Healed!”
“Say, what??” The third member of the lunch party looked very, very confused.
“Didn’t I say that was how I met my wife? We both experienced the same reactions and she instinctively gave me an embrace. Before I knew it I was breathing fine and felt reciprocated. Like both of us were antidotes towards another. I did hear about this before too. The whole soulmate thing about experiencing The Curse of Breathless.”
Breathless? Wasn’t that a title of a song? I took a long and hard chug on my drink. Goddamit and this peculiar and similar coincidences.
“Yeah, Breathless. They say that when you are near to the person who is meant for you, you’ll feel suffocated. I guess the other person suffers too when they are near you too.”
“Wait, isn’t that ironic? A soulmate reaction but then you’re both killing yourselves because you couldn’t breathe?? The heck is that idea?”
I was mum but in my head I was nodding fiercely. There was no way Breathless could be true! The concept didn’t make any freaking sense, that was for sure.
“Well yeah. But the only way to reverse the reaction is, uh, physical contact, I guess?” The guy who said turned beet red next and the rest of the group started cajoling with lecherous faces that didn’t attempt to hide their reactions.
“Atta boy! Prowling at yer wife eh?? Ya beastly!”
“Hear me ooout,” he coughed in between. “When you meet the one, you’ll know for sure why it has happen. Besides, we are soulmates. She and I. After we kissed, the curse of Breathless was gone. And here we are, much in love.”
If only sparkly, floating hearts were real, it’d be all over that guy, was what I quietly thought.
And my next thoughts wandered at that incident ten years ago. If it wasn’t an allergic reaction… then did I experience Breathless… towards the boy? And if the curse was really true, did it mean I was his soulmate too? All this time?
A ten year gap, with only the fuzzy memory of his face, would I ever meet him again? At this huge, bustling town? I didn’t even know his name. Then again, what was I getting excited for? I finished my meal and went on doing what I usual did. Today was peculiar and any more of weird curses and such were put behind at the recesses my mind.
Until the train back home that I once again clutched my chest and covered my mouth. Shit, shit. An allergy attack? Goddamit, I left my meds back in the office! It had been a while since my last allergic reaction and now I was utterly unprepared. Where was the nearest clinic? I was fumbling for my phone, fishing for it inside my coat pocket. Everything started to looked mosaic and my chest was discomforting me at a whole new level.
“Are you… okay?”
The face I thought I’d never see again so soon looked at me like he was equally having difficulty in breathing too. Features sharper, hair longer and mouth covered with his hand, as if mimicking mine. The stranger and I were experiencing the same thing…?
Shit, this can’t be…!
Apparently it could.