She was in agony. Pain wracked her body in never ending waves. Her face was clenched in a grimace that sharply expressed the nerve-induced horror that she was enduring and sweat glistened in tiny beads on her forehead. “Breathe” I said.

She looked at me, pleading to me with lightless eyes that cried out for help in ways that her voice could not otherwise express. Her hand gripped mine with a ferocity that revealed the terror that she must not face alone.

She breathed out, long and slow, closing her eyes and letting the exhale drive the smallest portion of tension from her. She relaxed slightly and breathed in, drawing the cold air deep into her lungs. As she settled back down into her pillow a little color returned to her grey, drawn face and she opened her eyes; “Thank you” they said.

And then once more the agony returned.