Frozen breath

The cold is in my nose. I can no longer use it to breathe. I open my mouth and the cold pours in. It hits the back of my throat, it penetrates my trachea, and explodes into my brain.

I stop, frozen, mid-stride, mid-sidewalk. At first, people flow around me, only cursing the blockage. Soon, others stop, not frozen, just curious.  Am I a statue? Am I a joke? An odd ad for the shop I’m stuck in front of?  Screens come out of pockets, capturing my humiliation. I go viral.  “Don’t touch me, I’m probably contagious,” I do not say with frozen lips and tongue, because it would only add to the bad joke.

It all ends when a gust of small boys or a mischievous wind knocks into me from behind and I go down with a resounding clang onto the pavement. No longer meme-worthy, the screens dissipate.  The owner of the blocked shop brings out a portable heater. “What am I paying taxes for,” he grumbles while scraping at my edges.  I obligingly melt into the crowd, my inability to breathe the least of his problems.