Joe leant back against the hedge and stared up into the sky, his eyes fixed on the crisscrossing vapour trails from the many comings and goings at Heathrow.
He knew that he should not be breathless after a five minute walk, but there he was struggling to breathe and needing to stop after five minutes walking on the flat. He was only forty-two! How had it come to this?
He felt the outline of his fag packet under his thumb where he was bracing his hands against his thighs. Yeah, that was it; he’d left quitting too late. Sure it was… Except, what about the eight years he had not smoked for until six months before? Sure he wished that he had not started again when Sophie had left, but old habits are all you have when your wife leaves with her protegé.
He tried to calm down and concentrate on his breathing – in through the nose, out through the mouth. He noticed that Dee was walking over; that was it. He had been fine until he saw her!
“You alright Joe?”
He nodded, suddenly scrabbling for breath once more.