For the Red Writing Hood Challenge this week, Cheryl, Nichole or Katie brought us this (originally developed for an NPR fiction contest):
The premise of the contest is to write a piece of flash fiction - it should be no more than 600 words and should take no longer than 3 minutes to read aloud.
And the requirement for this particular one is a character MUST tell a joke and a character MUST cry. One character can do both.
(I'm taking a break from my Walter and Lydia characters because they're getting on my nerves).
The instructor announced, "Prepare for final relaxation. Savasana." Her voice was a polished stone skipping across a clear lake.
The class shifted on their yoga mats. The girl's limbs felt like wilted spinach. She splayed her arms and legs into corpse pose and closed her eyes.
"I will be placing scented hot towels on your forehead," the instructor said. "Please cross your hands across your torso if you would prefer I do not touch you."
The girl soaked deeper into her mat, and sighed. This was the closest thing she had to worship most days. Trust. The word echoed in her head as she rested.
She had set the word as her intention at the beginning of class. Trusting her body to hold the poses. Trusting in the power of her breath and her strength.
And as she sat there, absorbing all the trust of the universe, her neighbor let out a meandering, tuneless melody from his rear end.
A fart. A yogic fart.
"Just relax," cooed the instructor, "Let go. Let it all goooooooooo."
She bit her lip, and attempted to arrange her face into a mask of Zen contemplation. Where, she thought, is my scented hot towel? I really, really could use the scented hot towel.
"Breathe deeply. Take it all in. Take a collective deep breath."
How about not? She tried to think of flowing streams, of birds flitting from branch to branch. All that came to mind was that old Deep Thoughts with Jack Handey bit from Saturday Night Live---"Dad always thought humor was the best medicine, which is why I guess several of us died of tuberculous."
She snorted. I've got to get it together. Her body shook with silent laughter as she held her breath. The instructor pit-patted towards her mat.
Her soft, cold hands caressed the girl's forehead, stroking her forehead, strumming the taut tendons of her neck and shoulders. Like stained glass, her fingers were eternal and holy.
She placed the Eucalyptus-scented towel on her eyes, and whispered, "It's so good to finally see you smile again."
The instructor glided away, leaving the girl alone on her mat. She could still feel the lingering touch and smell essential oil lingering in the air. How good it felt to be touched again! She missed it more than anything else. Her eyes pooled up, and she let the tears fall. She basked in the mysterious grace of human touch, and the sanctity of a soul simply noticing.
"Gradually move yourself into a comfortable seated position." The scented towel fell to the floor as the girl positioned herself into lotus pose. The instructor smiled, a serene wisp of light, "The divine in me recognizes the divine in you. Namaste."
The girl bowed forward, her head heavy, yet mercifully light. She walked out the door, and took a fresh, green breath of air.