Carla wriggles her toes, stretches her arms over her head, shakes out her hair. She is keenly aware of the audience watching below, can almost feel their eyes on her. She inhales sharply, thinking that the air feels denser up here, more compact.

She has a breathing exercise she likes to do whenever she needs to focus, one that her sister taught her. Her sister Maria had severe asthma, but she learned to lessen the severity of the attacks by concentrating on the simple act of breathing. She would imagine the slender molecules of air slipping into her lungs, expanding and joining together into an invisible sea. She would let the waves wash over her, calm her, and eventually she was able to breathe normally again.

Carla doesn’t have asthma, but she finds that this exercise helps her during her routines. Carla doesn’t have Maria any more, either – Maria died of respiratory failure five years ago – but she finds that this exercise helps bring her closer to the memory of her.

Carla takes a deep breath and dives.

The End

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