Some organisms are so large that it is not obvious if they are alive. Trees grow to great sizes. They do not breathe like mammals. In winter many trees look dead, but this is part of their natural cycle, their “breathing” synchronised with the seasons.
She breathes in the time it takes for civilisations to rise and fall. The very idea that she is alive is anathema to some, conundrum to others. In line with her heartbeat, historians have counted the rise and fall of Rome, the Dark Ages, the renaissance, the building of great cathedrals, vineyards in Greenland, the years that the Thames froze over.
But now her breathing is rough, like a child with a cough, and the signs of her breathing, measured in heat, are confused. They thought they understood why she was coughing, and sought to bring her temperature down, but in doing so they restricted her breathing. She resisted for a while, trying to fight, and cried out to her father, the creator of all things, for help. He kissed her. She blushed, relaxed and breathed out.
The civilisation of the people who had controlled her started to fall. The seasons grew colder. Their crops failed. Wild animals, looking for food, attacked their towns. They fought each other, their blood staining the surface of her beautiful skin. Her name is Earth. She breathes as she wants to. And the people – the parasites – that live on her skin must adapt or die.