His breathing grew shallow and quick in the same moment, drawing lightly scrubbed air through the respirator. These labored, worried breaths felt clouded in his throat and pricked the soft tissue in his lungs like tiny pins.
They told the minors the respirators were only for precaution. The air down there is perfectly safe, they assured. You burn the coal in your homes. You warm your babies by the fire’s hot glow. You can breathe it, they said.