Friday, February 4, 2011

Red Writing Hood: Mantra

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.

Okay, then.

(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.


Ash said...

You just described my worst-nightmare yoga class experience.

I do wonder why the girl hasn't smiled in a while. Maybe because her secret lover Walter dumped her when he discovered his wife was expecting? So not like Walter - bad boy! ;)

I love the way you describe everyday activities. Always leaves me with a feeling of "me too!" I now miss my yoga class even more. Is there anything better than post-class corpse pose?

Minus the flatulence, of course.

Jessica said...

Oh this is hilarious and touching and beautifully written. Love "where is my scented towel." Amazing job.

Erin said...

I have been there. But I stopped taking yoga because something slipped out once. Only it was out of a different orifice (TMI). No one heard, thank God, but I never went back for fear it would happen again. Which sucks b/c I loved yoga.

I often felt tears at the end of class, too. Then again, I did yoga a lot when we were going through IVF, etc...

I also often cry during massages (which I only get once a year, usually when we're on a vacation or something). Something so powerful in human touch.

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

I love this piece. The moods. You captured yoga so well. I once was in a class next to someone who farted the whole time. I was actually so impressed that she didn't care a bit! And hey, I managed not to laugh ;-)
I'm your newest follower. I don't want to miss your posts :-)

singedwingangel said...

Ok I must admit as a mom of 3 boys and a gassy husband the fart would have sent me into fits of laughter.. I have been corrupted by the males in this house..
I think I need to check into yoga though for the days when I am actually home alone. It sounds so calming and peaceful

tsonodablog said...

This story took me to a place I can't talk about, but suffice to say it took me there. Not an easy "place" to think about. Sorry if I'm talking in riddles, but I know what I mean. Excellent story my friend! I get it.

(Florida) Girl said...

Beautiful imagery. And the yoga fart was hysterical.

This has me wanting to do yoga, so the word that comes to mind is: compelling.

This character strikes me as someone who is searching for something.

Callie said...

Hysterical! I can't stop laughing!

Cheryl said...

I loved this, Nancy. I love how she went through such different emotions in such a short time, and there is nothing quite like human touch when it's been vacant for awhile.

However, I would've been rolling on the floor. Farts are always funny!

Ratz said...

Yogic fart! you are testing me Nancy! that was bloody genius and the following lines... take it all in.... honestly, it was hilarious and tortuous.

From Tracie said...

I have never done yoga...but you are kind of making me want to try. Laughter, tears, sounds pretty perfect.

Although I fear I would be the one to have the yoga fart, and that would be embarrassing.

Kristy said...

Isn't everybody in a yoga class trying to hold in a fart?


clearness said...

Would a yoga queef be more or less mortifying than a yoga fart?

whispatory said...

I love her emotional journey. from calming to giggles to crying. The towel line was too funny. And though it's true that farting is part of yoga I have to struggle not to giggle every times it happens to either me or someone else and I'm nearly 40 for goodness sake!

Snuggle Wasteland said...

When you do yoga on Wii nobody cares if you fart. :)

As always, great spin on the prompt!

Sluiter Nation said...

Yay! someone else who wrote about a fart!

Seriously? This was so awesome because of how realistic it was. you nailed that yoga class. NAILED IT. Anyone in the world who has been to yoga will BOOM recognize this. Way to SHOW and not just TELL!

Elizabeth Flora Ross said...

The imagery in this was fantastic! I love it! Bravo! said...

I can't believe you seamlessly wove a fart into a little glimpse into grace and our fragile human divinity.

That, my friend, is sheer genius.

Teehee...fart jokes...

Mandyland said...

This post made me want to do yoga. And that's saying a lot considering the last time I attempted it, I nearly died on my mat.

I can't help but wonder if she's recently lost her significant other and is just coming out of the grieving process.

Loved it.

Erin said...

As you know, having a house of boys, farts will forever be funny. I laughed so hard but then found myself wondering why she hadn't smiled in a while, and that it took a fart to get her to smile! =)

Yuliya said...

I laughed out loud, yes I did, and I don't do that very often (just ask my husband...that makes me sound frigid and uptight, but I'm not I swear...sorry back on track now)
I loved every detail of this story, "take it all in" SNORT indeed!
I also cringed at the instructor touching her part, but the girl liked it and that's all that matters...okay now I REALLY sound frigid and uptight...sigh I would take a yoga class but you have scared me silly of the farting potential...

Kristy said...

I have an award for you at my site! Will be up in a few!

Blue Moon Girl said...

I love the "Her voice was a polished stone skipping across a clear lake." Beautiful way to describe a voice. I can completely picture the sound of it. This was amazing. I can feel myself as the girl in the yoga class. And I love the fart as the funny! Too awesome! :)

FabuLeslie said...

Oooo, I always love your stuff, but I also love yoga, so this was a double whammy for me. Such a great post. I've missed reading blogs, and especially yours. I have to make more time to do it! Thanks for your beautiful writing. Ahhh.

noisycolorfullively said...

So tender. Makes me want to try yoga.

Jenny said...

Ummm...yeah, read my other comment.


Marla said...

Beautiful. I actually felt peaceful reading it. I love to read your stories.