The Cost of Air


Everything was for sale. 

Everything! 

Charlie had to pay $2.00 every time he used his toilet and $3.00 when he entered his apartment. 

That was how things had always been for Charlie, for everyone - that was life. 

Charlie earned well, and he enjoyed shelling out on life’s necessities. 

Scanning the bank pass just to pay $1.00 to sleep was frustrating. 

It limited napping. 

But it was fine for Charlie, he earned enough to pay for life. 

Well, he did… 

Then the summer recession hit and Charlie lost his job at the hospital. 

Deep cuts - it cuts deep. 

Once his job was gone - Charlie struggled to pay for anything. He had savings of course. Enough for him to pay the $2.50 eating charge (that’s not the cost of the food mind you, it was just the eating charge). 

And there was enough to pay the 2 cents oxygen fee - the most important cost. 

The cost we all broke our necks to pay. 

But how long would the cash last? 

His balance that summer was $40,500.00. 

A healthy balance. Charlie can just keep paying it now and find the work by December LATEST! 

Predictably - December came around FAST! 

Ouch. 

Charlie was still out of work. 

It’s fine - you’re down to $10,500 - but it will last until March. Don’t sweat it. 

Charlie had skills. He was a trainee doctor and attended one of the best medical schools in New York. 

But trainees were the first to get cut during the recession. And now - there’s no need for any more trainees, the hospitals only need qualified doctors. 

And what with his apprenticeship now derailed - was he even a trainee anymore? 

It got to January and Charlie had to limit his sleep, what he ate, use of the bathroom and the walking charges. 

He stayed in the apartment, exiting it cost a couple of dollars after all. 

He stayed on the sofa. TV didn’t run - that was a luxury that the old Charlie enjoyed and he watched the figure on his bank pass slowly tick down. 

$6,500.00. 

$6,499.98 

$6,499.96. 

By March he was down to nearly nothing. 

He’d done everything right, only three hours of sleep a night, only one meal a day, bathroom breaks few and far between, and Charlie didn’t leave his place unless necessary. 

Charlie wondered where the money went - after being so frugal. 

He drank more water than usual, to negate the hunger. Held it in his bladder all day in excruciating pain. 

Maybe the hunger and lack of sleep made him breathe more - every moment that cost escalated - the cost of air. 

That must have been it - breathing! 

$2.00. 

$2.98.

$2.96. 

Charlie paid $2.00 and put his head down on the pillow. 

I’ll just get some sleep and by then - I will probably be broke.

You didn’t make it. You let everyone down. 

Stupid recession. 

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