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WHEN I FELL
Mia stands and walks to adjust a knob on the wall near the head of my bed, lowering the room lights until only those recessed in the ceiling at the edges are dimly lit, toning down the outside world, setting the atmosphere.
From where I lie, her face has dark hollows and her eyes deep-set circles. I am again aware of how strange she looks.
“Look,” Mia says. “Start easy. Start with a place where you feel you’ve left a piece of your soul. If you go too deep without practice, you’ll hurt yourself.”
I flood with anxiety. She’s talking as if I know what she means by “a place where you’ve left a piece of your soul.” I think but don’t say, “If I knew how to do this, lady, I wouldn’t have to ask you!”
That I need her annoys me. While I pretended to be dependent on Martin during our marriage, in my entire life I needed only my children and Jimmy. The loss of everything else, I could survive, and have.
“Please,” I implore, the word more than a polite one used in a civilized world, as part of my social toilet training. I say “please” as if Mia knows how to open a door of my life locked years ago, the key melted and recast to fit another room. “You said I could go anywhere I want. What did you mean? Why are you teasing me?”
Her expression is serious as she climbs into the chair beside my bed.
“I’m not being cruel,” she says, crossing her legs at the ankle, her feet not touching the floor. “You can go anywhere in your mind because your mind is all energy. There are meditational techniques that will allow you to visit places in the present, revisit your past, and if you’re really brave, see into the future.”
She says this so seriously, so matter-of-factly, that I believe her.
“Through meditation, you may visit the upper world, the middle world, and the underworld,” Mia continues, and with a flattened hand deliberately marks the levels in the air from top to bottom with slow karate chops. She shrugs and adds, “Some people call them the Attic, Living Room, and Basement.”
I feel my body melting, that what I’m being told is right, makes sense, and might very well allow me to understand where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m going.
“But how?” I gasp, my voice hoarse, desperate.
“Slowly,” Mia says, lowering her hand to rest on a knee. “Traveling is a learned skill. Once you become practiced at it, you’ll move instantaneously to your choice of places, even unfamiliar places, any place in the world, past, present and future, and you won’t necessarily need the lights lowered, either, which is more a matter of personal preference than anything.” With an exaggerated wink, she adds, “The best even go into what might have been,” and pretends to shudder at the thought.
Clutching the bed sheet to my chest like a sinner who wants to believe, gazing at her with childlike wonderment, I ask, “But how is it possible?”