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You Can Stop Counting Now

It doesn't matter anymore

By The Dani WriterPublished about a month ago 3 min read
Photo by ALTEREDSNAPS on Pexels

How many times does it take for someone to watch you nearly die before it becomes somewhat routine?

On average, about six.

Is it a mental deviation of character that I know this?

Judge for yourself.

I, Carson G. Stetler, am no bullshitter.

Especially since I’m currently in a charcoal 2020 Acura TLI sinking to the bottom of Lake Okeechobee after skidding off an oil slick and over the rail along Highway 98.

Yeah. Now you feel bad, right?


All the family and friends who kept questioning me over my 31-year-old lifespan about the intense regimen I kept of breath exercises for freediving.

Not for the faint-hearted. But now, a lifesaver as I’ve held my inhalations whilst trapped underwater after repeated attempts to escape the interior of a flooded car.

Thoughts desirous of racing into fight or flight mode...


Panic kills you faster than anything.

Countless action series scenes portray rescuer’s attempts to break the driver or passenger side windows.

Melodramatic show-filler that’s been so overdone.

Am I even one to say stop watching mediocre television?

Hell, no one even knows I left home to go out.

Where I was headed.


Welp, my seatbelt released but the door won’t budge. Simple physics combines exponential psi levels increasing per second inside a death trap.

If only I could reach the hammer in the trunk toolbox.

If only I’d left the glass cutter in the glove compartment like that’s a thing you’d ordinarily do two hours ago when making last minute adjustments to a sculpture consignment order and now en route to a five-year-old son, you never even knew existed 'til last month.

If only there were words for bridging the type of emotional turmoil you get for your “Heart of Hearts” post-third wedding anniversary—post-OBGYN specialist number four—post-eighth miscarriage misery, instead of a decrepit silent slither away at night because I ached to see him but couldn’t bring myself to say that out loud knowing...


Speed…the enemy of an autonomic nervous system compensating like gangbusters without oxygen.

Damn it. Slow down.

Adopting snail pace now. Cognitive lethargy.



I heave the last cubic meter of expiratory reserve volume from my chest. My heart rate decelerates to last functional increments.

Bubbles swirl free.


A tantalizing ‘air free-for-all’ flourish and the cringe is involuntary.

Would that I could capture them, contain them. Suck them back in for added seconds. Symbols of life floating beyond reach while names I cannot begin think about, silently scrutinize.

My lungs launch a weak protest. Essential three-dimensional organs stuffed in two-dimensional space. Brain function losing the battle. Bladder surrendered on impact. Vision a range of five, maybe ten feet of nothingness beyond the windshield and although water amplifies sound, spectral silence surrounds.



The gold wedding band shimmers foreboding grief from a glimpse. No one cheats physiology for long. Even in a Ralph Lauren cotton pinstripe shirt that their wife ironed with insomnia-puffed eyes because she couldn’t find air either. Karmic destinies mix pending hypoxia with tears that won’t matter.


My brain pounds off-kilter frequencies outside my skull, a question mark under siege that didn’t get the memo. Still grasping at solutions after I learned his name was Rohan. He’s fascinated by geographical maps I'm told, and everything lab technician role play.

My arms refuse commands. Lower limbs approaching paralysis, an inescapable horror movie when you’re dying with someone left to live for.


No one…is born alone…so…why we get…to die…al—?




“Wrap and done people,” blares Hector Ramirez through the mike. Best damn director in the business due of his keen sense of timing. People line streets to work with him.

Scuba gear-clad safety crew materialize from beneath the car as I transition from character, slide the pin from the door and swim to the surface with ease.

Could’ve lasted another 50 secs at least.

“Nailed those facial expressions, Carson,” Hector says, his hand pats my dripping shirt.


His compliments...a rarity. No time.


Kinda bites it’s my last day on set.

By next week, I’ll be a cartel drug lord engulfed in flames plummeting to my death from a ten-story building for the umpteenth time.

But hey, who’s counting?

Photo by Alotrobo on Pexels

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Short Story

About the Creator

The Dani Writer

Explores words to create worlds with poetry, nonfiction, and fiction. Writes content that permeates then revises and edits the heck out of it. Interests: Freelance, consultations, networking, rulebook-ripping. UK-based





Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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Comments (8)

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  • kpabout a month ago

    whoa, had me gripped! and such a good twist! a stunt actor?? who'd have thought?!

  • Rosie𐙚about a month ago

    The plot twist got me good. Awesome read!

  • Babs Iversonabout a month ago

    No bull, awesome short story!!! Loved it!!!❤️❤️💕

  • Cathy holmesabout a month ago

    This is amazing. I was starting to panic. And then, the surprise. Well done.

  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarranabout a month ago

    Omgggg hahahahahahahaha you got me good! Never thought it would be a movie scene, lol! Well done!

  • ThatOne_Girlabout a month ago

    brilliant twist. love it.

  • L.C. Schäferabout a month ago

    Oooh you tricksy! I thought it was real!

  • Kendall Defoe about a month ago

    You got me, TDW! I really thought you were headed down another path here!

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