“Look, Reiner, one more thing. When you fire, you need to breathe. Try this… take a big breath in and out.”
Reiner, frowning, opened his mouth and inhaled, then exhaled loudly.
He can hear Bertolt’s smile, “Ok, that’s good, but let’s do it softer, and focus on taking that breath in, and then breathing it out nice and slow. And when you’re done breathing out…. that’s when you shoot.”
“Huh, I never thought of that,” Reiner mumbled.
“Let’s go, big breath in…”
He inhaled through his nose. He could smell the loamy earth they’re laying on, the wet grass, the fresh breeze coming in with the dawn. The tin cans are more visible, their dark outlines stark and defiant against the sky, significantly brighter now than when they started. Light yellow and pink streak across above their heads. He can feel a cold drop of sweat run down his chest under his shirt. And again, Bertolt’s hand rested on his back between the shoulder blades, warm and strong. Right now, he felt grounded, alive. Somehow, Reiner knew he would never forget this moment.
He exhaled, lined up his sights. The hard wood of the rifle pressed against his cheek, the butt in the crook of his shoulder. Finger ready on the trigger, the metal grip of it cool and rough against his index. At the end of his breath, he held, and with gentle pressure squeezed-
Excerpt from a fic I wrote after chapter 94: Breathe First