Judge Davis said not to do experiments or outside research, but the defense lawyer asked us how a man could possibly call out to his mother and children if he couldn’t breathe—how could he say “I can’t breathe” if speech is a function of air and vibrating vocal chords—so I found myself in the bathroom of the hotel where we were sequestered, staring into the mirror, holding my breath, and saying, “Hello? Hello? Help me. Please help me. Someone help me for the love of God.” I must’ve still had air in my lungs to say all that, but I didn’t force the air out and try it again because, even though I was alone and I knew I had good intentions, it felt like a desecration.

I asked Mrs. Wright what she thought about the lawyer saying that.

“Anyone who’s ever been tickled knows that’s not true,” she said. “You’re laughing so hard you can’t breathe, but you’re still saying stop stop stop stop.”

“No one dies from being tickled,” I said, and she reminded me that we’re not allowed to talk about the case.

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