The child beneath my hands folded forward like a blade of grass bending to the will of a river. My fingers parted and relaxed, allowing her throat to slip away from my grasp. Her nose hit the floor first with a crack, followed by her chin, and then the rest of her.

I stared down quietly, watching her pale face grow even paler, her tightly-shut eyes flinching without her consent. Her lips, bruised a thin, reddish blue, with desperate slowness regained their former pale pink color.

Time ticked away with the beating of my heart. And I sat and watched the life refill her pallid corpse. My lungs expanded and compressed forcefully, for it no longer seemed like an easy thing to breathe. I looked down at my fingers, rubbing the hard callouses with my thumbs, feeling her warm neck between them once more.

I smiled.

It had been such a bitter, lovely thing, choking the life out of her. Vaguely I wondered how much longer it would be until her body jolted back into consciousness.

Then my left eye caught a flutter of movement. I tilted my head downwards and saw her stir. Her mouth opened against the floor, strings of blood and saliva lolling out. Her forehead knotted together, her jaw snapping shut with a grinding of baby teeth, as she began to push herself up. She moaned softly and her hand slapped onto my chair between my legs. With that leverage, she was able to heft herself onto her knees and gradually stand.

I held my breath, which instantly started screaming for release in my lungs, but I refused it. I held out my arms to her, and she turned to me with a drugged expression that spread into a smile. She threw out her arms and pitched forward into my chest, and I caught her and pulled her against me and held her.

She did not weep, and neither did I. Instead, our laughter filled the cold room, filled it to the brim so that it could not hold any more happiness, and then filled it just a bit more, so that the pressure exploded her and I into colorful bits of confetti.