Drugged - Bonnie Smetts

Marjorie stood before the man in the saffron robe unable to feel her feet. The reflections from the mirrored tent ceiling dared to distract and unbalance her, but she focused on the kohl dot between the man’s eyes. He was the teacher she was sent to see. They’d told her to find him across the field behind the rock hills.

She doesn’t remember arriving, but now she stands before him, embarrassed. “You have come…” He says the only three words she understands, for each sound that comes from him thereafter is as if from a flute. Notes. One lovely note connected to the next.

I must stare at him, and not lose that dot. Then she is floating down a river on her back, the water is warm and she’s floating without a boat, a raft, anything to hold her. But she can’t move, she can’t be terrified. Her terror sits on the river’s bank, as if held in a glass box. She can’t touch it, but she sees it.

She floats on.

Fire burns inches below her feet. The fire sizzles when water from her dress drips onto its embers. She doesn’t see the fire, she feels its heat and the smell of burning wood.

“Please sit now and we will …” The swami is before her. She folds to the floor and a stiff cushion meets her before the hard rock of the tile floor.

“Sit, see the place beyond this room, let it come in and let it fill you. You are filled with this spot beyond space and time. Sit.” The swami never looked at her, and when she tried to look at him as he spoke the final words of the day, she could not find his shape. From the corner of her vision, he was there. But when she tried to see him, to see if he were real, she saw only a shimmer of saffron. And the glass box filled with her terror now sat shimmering in the reflection of the man’s robe.

She opened her mouth but nothing came out. She remembered seeing fish underwater, breathing their water-air.