by Michèle Thibeau
“Pahhhhhhhhhhh,” she said, exhaling.
Craig held his breath, letting it swirl around in his lungs a second longer. “Ahhhhhhhhhh,” he exhaled, following her lead. The breath rushed from his body and then petered out, as if his lungs were still learning to expand and contract. Not far off when it came to meditation. This was his first attempt. As a beginner, he was being guided. She had piqued his curiosity with her talk of development and metamorphosis. Stealing a glimpse at her, sitting cross-legged on the floor facing him, Craig quickly he closed his eyes and tried to focus on his breathing.
It was working; her mantra was working! She smiled, lowering her head a notch so he would not see her break in concentration. Her eyes were closed. She desperately hoped his were too. She needed him to be lost in thought, deep in thought, swimming along for a just a little longer. If she could only get him to the next stage, he would be well on his way.
As he learned, as she allowed him in closer, the deep moat that surrounded her, enveloping her in its fog, had begun to fade away. The water was drying up; she was breaking new ground.
Craig’s eyes were closed; his hands had relaxed. This was nice, he thought. This meditation thing had been worth trying – sober not sloshed, as some of his friends had suggested. He should have just kept the whole experiment to himself.
They inhaled simultaneously, the sounds blending in perfect harmony. As if on cue, their mouths opened in synch, releasing the next syllable, “Liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii.”
She was over the moon! She felt light-headed, almost faint. Perhaps it was the deep breathing. Perhaps it was being so close to achieving her goal. Inhaling confidently once more, she felt the air travel unimpeded through her sinus cavities and rushed down her esophagus to sooth the core of her being. Then she allowed the final syllable of her mantra to escape her lips; the sound vibrated through her body. She felt as one with the earth. “Waaaaahhhhh,” she released, slowly, enjoying the ride.
The rush of energy travelled straight to him. Craig’s eyes flicked open mid syllable. He paused. His jaw dropped; his mouth hung open, unable to give voice to the final syllable of her mantra. The magic was gone. Craig was no longer grounded, not in a meditational sense, at least. That bubble had burst.
He had not been bumped out of his relaxed state by the length of the session or by the slight numbing sensation in his legs. Rather, Craig had lost his happy place when his brain made the link, connected the dots, understood the clues to this relationship between him and her.
Suddenly it had become crystal clear. All those references to water, to teaching him and developing, suddenly made sense. Craig’s mind filled with images of storming out; he didn’t need to evolve that way. Chuck this mantra, he thought.
Craig could not believe how she had wooed him in, fooled him, taken him for some sort of experimental pet to be moulded and changed.
He stared at her. She was beautiful, even more so in her relaxed state, where she seemed more vulnerable, less powerful and mysterious. Craig followed the outline of her soft blue skirt; it swirled out around her, resembling water, and left her sitting like a solitary tower on a precarious little island. That was exactly it.
He would not swim to her. He would not join in her little game. Craig was over her and out of there. He was no tadpole for the taking.
“Ahhhhhhg,” she finished.
“Hogwash,” Craig replied, scrambling to his feet. He stood tall and stared down at her, into her dreamy blue eyes. His words, meant as arrows, shot out, “Polliwog that!”
Swiveling on shaky legs, Craig headed out the door, leaving her to her magical, self-imposed exile.
He could not hear the water rushing in to fill the void or the fog as it closed in on her once again.
Written by Michèle Thibeau
Read an interview with the author here.