He held her hand listening to her breathing. He tried to remember when he would hear her breathing softly next to him without the gurgle of heavy liquid falling and rising with every breath. He took the moistening stick, dipped it into the cool water, and then, circled it around her lips. Her face was all angles, now. Taut skin wrapped itself against bone and pulled her lips back against her teeth in a sort of grotesque smile as she drew in a long breath. Her lips were blue, as expected. Just then, her inward breath caught midway and her chest shuddered. For a few seconds the only sound was the hum of the oxygen machine and the thumping of his heart in his own ears. Lately, he had taken to holding his breath every time she stopped breathing. He counted the seconds against his heartbeat, waiting. Then, slowly, her breath released. Out, out, further and further still until, finally, there was only the hum and whir of the useless oxygen machine.