When Oxygen Suffers from Crippling Depression by Jeff Phillips

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The rugged American believes he can do everything himself, on his own, a self-sufficient God who pretends to worship God. This kind of man has a hard time understanding the word community. It sounds garbled as the word struggles to vibrate through air molecules.

When the ego maniacal go-getter first began puffing his unbecoming stiff lip grimace, the spirit of the oxygen molecule felt slighted. This spirit’s feelings were hurt when men thought themselves better than oxygen. And feelings were hurt further, when men, distracted by their own accomplishments, forgot about oxygen entirely.

It wasn’t that the spirit of oxygen would ever want to withhold itself, but it deflated under the achy drain of its own depression. And so the word community couldn’t quite travel very far as a vibration. The oxygen molecules strained to help along the echo of the word by shouting it, but the little oxygen voices soon went hoarse and faded out with glottal fry.

Man’s thinking wasn’t as clear as it used to be when the oxygen started to shrivel. The oxygen didn’t even have tears to shed.

Man’s lungs felt dry, but man didn’t think oh my god my lungs are dry, man just felt irritable.

Man then perpetuated the isolation of the society of oxygen. But man was visibly miserable, and the ever empathetic oxygen molecules couldn’t quite snuff the image like one would a distasteful TV show. Seeing the darkened circle under man’s exhausted ego made oxygen unable to even get out of bed. It still yearned for man to lighten up and issue just a little compliment, a little thank you, a nod of encouragement, a welcoming gesture pulling it into the circle of a spirited team, not just as a society of oxygen and a society of man, but a goddamn society of society. It wanted to champion and revel in its involvement with other champions, the human ones. The ones that take a deep breath and make the members of the society of oxygen dizzy with work! And the dizziness would be worth it, if the men would just enjoy the deep breath in, not demand it, and wet it with the smell of spittle.

If oxygen had the energy there would be a wind.

Man might have the freedom to decide whether it wants to even give oxygen credit for its accomplishments. But the right measure of wind could erase that freedom along with the big brick towers man had long ago built. Oxygen can hardly look at these effigies that, with a steady homage to cigar smoke, celebrate the slowness of obliteration and the conversion of culture into a smudge.


Jeff Phillips is a washed up varsity cross country skier and storefront theatre method actor. His short fiction has appeared in Seeding Meat, This Zine Will Change Your Life, Metazen, and Literary Orphans. He has dabbled with a few self-publishing experiments, including the novel Votary Nerves, and is the co-founder of Zizobotchi Papers, a journal dedicated to the novella.