A string of explosive coughs wracked his body, causing him to sit up and double over. Eventually he was able to draw in a shallow, ragged breath; anything more caused tightness in his chest. He exhaled and lay back down, resting his back against the soft pillows his mother had put behind him.
He tried to relax, but breathing hurt his raw throat and nasal passages. Closing his eyes, he imagined himself on a beach. It was warm and sunny, but he was in the shade. Birdsong wandered out from the jungle behind him. It was pleasant on his ear.