Here is another of those two-sentence stories with poetry added. I’m thinking of them as “Minuscule” and quick to read.

Read the first Minuscule, the explanation of why I wrote it and got started on this idea, and search under the category Fiction/Poetry Combination for others in the series.



He’s not going to stop coughing, I realize: those intervals of silence are just tiny islands in the huge ocean of coughing that guy is going to do for as long as he sits across the library table from me, those miserable hoarse choking coughs with a sharp bark and a swallow at the end of each one, the kind of cough that spreads opportunistic germs and no doubt plenty of them having already landed inside my own respiratory system. Nobody is going to deal with this if I don’t, I thought, rummaging in my purse as I stand up, lean over to confront the grim mental picture of microorganisms on the move, looking straight at this guy who just won’t stop coughing, and putting some polite push in my voice: Excuse me! May I offer you a cough drop?

Rasping winter cough
scraping his tired bronchi raw
No one sits near him

(Haiku 355)


Montco 12-21-17 #1011

19 thoughts on “Cough

    • Think what the librarians would make of that. The quiet floor would certainly take some time to settle down. Although they might thank me for taking the idea of “quiet” to heart…

      • There’s no much notion of quiet in libraries, seems to me. In the university library, nobody made a sound. The local libraries here are more like social clubs.

        • Yes, the public libraries here are the same – talking, chatting, and then the various activities. I have veered toward using just the college libraries for just what you say – people are quiet. Even better at Montgomery County Community College, the 2nd floor is designated quiet and people are SILENT. I love it. The first floor, now another story – the cafe is there, the front desk, people looking for the tutoring or testing center, and chatting is allowed as well as group study. You choose where you want to go in this library and you know what environment you’ll get. Thank goodness.

        • Our library in Bordeaux was always noisy. Over the years we lived there it had changed from a place where people went to choose books to read to a place where the homeless could sit down in the warm in winter, where kids could be dumped by their parents when there was no school and where some of the ‘new arrivals’ could go and steal the dvds and the children’s picture books. On Wednesdays when there is no school for the under 11s it was bedlam. The saff used to buy sandwiches for the kids whose parents left them there when it opened in the morning until when it closed at 6.30 in the evening. And they weren’t studious kids either.

    • Thank you. There was a student at Montco library who inspired this poem, and two different sessions a week apart. I really felt like going up to him and saying, Listen, we’re going to the doctor. Because he really sounded awful, not to mention the complete shattering of concentration on the quiet floor (the quiet which made his coughing even more noticeable). I will tell you, the second week, when I saw him, I changed my table.

      • Sometimes it does require someone else to alert you to how sick you are. I went to the doctor with a serious respiring infection last year only when a colleague pointed out she could hear my breath rattling from across the other side of a room. Maybe this chap needed to know his cough was really bad.

        • I did wonder if he had a mother or father at home paying attention, or anyone else. But even so, maybe he had no choice but to get to class despite illness, but if he had been my kid, I’d have hauled him to the doctor. This was not your garden-variety cough.

    • Especially this time of year. I tell you, I felt very irritated by this guy’s coughing and then felt bad because he couldn’t help it, but should he have been at school? I think not.

  1. Great post. Nothing to sneeze at with the current flu season wheezing across America & Canada. 🙂

    Presently getting, what will be a Tarot page together for Implied Spaces.
    Have just posted one of my ambiguous two sentence mystery narratives. Ambiguous & open ended, because I will drift into prose poem/stream of blather, and then become uncertain on how it ends myself. 😀

    Added a couple of haiku stanzas, so like your post, it qualifies as haibun. Also the stanzas, in my case, creates the illusion that I sort of know what it all means. 😀

    • Thank you. I’ll be taking a look at the Tarot page. That sounds very intriguing. And the mystery, too. I am catching up with reading, may take a couple of days, I have been sidetracked with paperwork. Ugh!

      And who said knowing what it means is really the point??!!

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