David’s eyelids dropped like blast doors the instant the smoke hit his lungs. He could feel every muscle in his body going slack, and then his mind went slack as well.
For an infinite moment, nothing. Awareness returned slowly, in snatches of sensation. Thin arms, a child’s arms, clamped around something soft - a pillow? - with all the shaky strength they could muster. A sense of pain and exhaustion. The feel of eyelids squeezed shut with the effort it was taking not to let go. The terrifying, desperate need to breathe. Then David came fully awake and remembered the moment. This was the first time. 21 years ago. The first time David had tried to die. Except this wasn’t going the way he remembered it. In his memory, his body had done what any body trying to asphyxiate itself does, and let go of the pillow as soon as he’d started to gray out. This time, some strength of will David had never found locked his muscles tighter and tighter.