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Past the butterfly wall.

Spontaneous pneumothorax is a collection of air or gas in the space between the lungs and the chest that "collapses" the lung and prevents it from inflating completely. Spontaneous means there is no traumatic injury to the chest or lung. There are two types of spontaneous pneumothorax: primary and secondary. Primary spontaneous pneumothorax occurs in people without lung disease. It occurs most often in tall, thin, young people.
I feel my phone vibrate in my pocket but I can't answer it. We are in the middle of rehearsal. It is not an uncommon event. We continue to play. The strap of my saxophone cuts into my neck. The nylon is rough against my skin. I look out of place. Everyone else is dressed casually; shorts, shirts, shoes optional. There I stand, a button down shirt and slacks. I'm entitled to dress up a little. It's my birthday.

My phone vibrates again.

I always used to roll my eyes whenever I saw those scenes in movies. The phone call. The bad news. The dramatic reaction. Knees buckling, struggling to stay composed. It just wasn't believable. Surely people wouldn't actually react that way. People could be level headed. Keep themselves together. People are strong, they don't just go straight to pieces.

You can't break people with words.

We stop the song and they discuss whether or not we will play it on Saturday. I check my phone. David has partial collapsed lung, going to ER. A shock runs through my body as I read the words. My chest tightens and my head starts to spin. I feel the words come from my mouth but can't remember thinking about them. My body disconnects from itself. "Oh God," I say. "I need to..." I take a step back. "...I'll be back." I stumble into the front yard and thoughtlessly drop my saxophone onto the sofa on my way out.

For what may be the first time in my entire life, I am honestly afraid.

I feel sick as I listen to the ringing of my phone. As I listen to her explain everything so far. As I sink down against the side of the house, phone clutched to my chest. I am crying, unashamed. People get hospitalized every day. Lots of people. Hundreds. Thousands. But only one of them is my brother. Literally my closest blood relative. I am filled with regret for not being closer to him.

Happy birthday, to me.

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