Sansara noted Diego had a tan line on his left ring finger last time he was holding her hand. He was left-handed and he had taken her right into his while they talked at the kitchen table, though she didn’t know what purpose he had in mind. She was waiting for a sign, any sign, to indicate he wasn’t as compassionate as his actions told her so far. She was beginning to believe his behavior was true, though. He was completely consistent.
He wanted to look at her. He wanted to touch her. And he’d been kind, really. She abhorred small talk, so she didn’t give a shit that he asked rather bluntly whatever he really wanted to know. She was starting to relax in regards to that, actually. Small talk had no place in her world. She would swim in her thoughts when not conversing with others, thinking about the solutions to problems she saw all around her. For instance, the masterful use of turn arrows in the Lou should have been extrapolated and implemented everywhere for safety’s sake.
She wished she didn’t have to play games with Diego. She wished she’d never been burned by the eight relationships she’d had to date. She had no idea that some people had eight relationships per year. He didn’t know anything about her, really, which she preferred. On the other hand, if he really had feelings like she detected with her Spidey senses, he could be The One(TM).
Her heart just wasn’t in living anymore. It hadn’t been since even before she left Psycho Boy Ben. It went on hiatus around the time she began the dangerous diet that had nearly taken her life and had absolutely stolen her ability to eat food in general. She was angry about all that, but she didn’t have the energy to express it. She needed to resume meeting with her therapist, but she was afraid to leave the house. He knew her car, which is one reason she gave Diego the key. If he saw Diego acting like the new man of the house, provided he could figure out what house she was in, then he was that much less likely to try to bother her.
She was thinking about planting shrubbery to hide her yard and patio from the street, or installing a privacy wall. She loved grilling in summer time, just like anyone else. She hated the idea that Ben could see her from the street if he passed by. Maybe if she started wearing costumes, he’d overlook her entirely even if he did happen down the street she called home now.
She thought about Diego staying longer than a year just then. Would he want to? Could he put up with her? Why on Earth would anyone want to be her roommate, really? Everyone else had given up on her. Her former best friend was gone, completely removed by one of Ben’s calculated chess moves. However, she knew she had checkmate if he stepped on this property. She had a restraining order out against him, Diego was armed, it was a stand-your-ground state, and there was a dog that could maybe bite his ball sack off in a pinch.
She could certainly look at Diego for a while longer, she thought. His voice was pleasant, too… but, of course, they hadn’t had a fight yet. It could all change. That’s the trouble with people. You didn’t know who they were until their life was on the line or their core beliefs were challenged. It’s important to note that any caged animal faced with death will do desperate things; that’s not what she wanted to see at all. She just wanted to see his mettle. Maybe something already happened that would tell her who he was more clearly.
“What’s your favorite band?” she asked him out of the blue.
“They Might Be Giants,” he replied without hesitation.
She blinked at him and drank from her mug. “Did you go to their concert at The Pageant in 2018?” He shook his head. “Have you been to any of their concerts?” she asked innocently. He shook his head again. She made a face at him. He chuckled at that, unsure how exactly to interpret it. “Why not?” she demanded, finally.
“I’ve been oblivious to them being in town, to be honest. I’ve been to some concerts, but never theirs. I’ve even been to The Pageant a few times… but, sadly, I missed that tour,” he told her.
“You would have loved it. They played a double set,” she told him. “The very first thing they said to the crowd was, Hello, we are They Might Be Giants, opening for They Might Be Giants.”
Alright, well that solved one mystery out of six million. She was an actual TMBG fan. He wondered what it was like to go to a concert with her. He hadn’t been to a concert in a long time now. The family he’d created had taken precedence for a decade, of course. He wondered if TMBG still toured.
“You know what? I’m going to see when they’ll be in town again. That’s ridiculous. You’ve never seen your favorite band live? I can’t even,” she said, reaching for the phone she never brought down. She looked sheepish when she figured out her pajamas didn’t have a back pocket like she was reaching for. “That is, when I have my phone,” she amended.
“I’ll go get that iPad,” he said before standing to walk to the living room. She got up and ended following him most of the way, veering off into the restroom and closing the door behind her. He saw the door as it was closing and decided to look up concert dates, if there were any.
He was surprised to see they were just in town the evening before at The Pageant. Jesus! He could have gone! Well, he’d have to talk her into going with him. He wasn’t about to leave her at home unprotected for an entire evening like that. She was knocking quite a bit off the rent for the bodyguard bit, which is why he changed his schedule to begin with. He was only paying $350.00 a month for everything, which was a substantial offering… I mean, there was on-site laundry, ample space for just about anything, she gave him exactly half of the refrigerator, he didn’t really have to clean all that much. She loved cleaning, he figured, since she did it every day. Either that, or her illness was so bad she felt compelled to do it all the time.
She came out of the bathroom in a burst of flowery perfume. He’d figured out it was her hand soap that smelled that way, it wasn’t actual perfume. He showed her the fact that there had been a TMBG concert just the previous evening. She pouted at that, grabbing the iPad from him with slightly damp hands, which she cursed and then dried again on her pajama shirt. She tapped around and looked triumphant, showing him that there was another tour date in October that year. He smiled, shaking his head.
“That’s five months away,” he protested. Wait, what was he doing, trying to cancel future plans before they could even be made with the woman of his dreams? She was literally in his dreams, after all. “Wait, I didn’t mean that like it sounded,” he said, backpedaling immediately. “I meant, it’s a shame we didn’t know all this before the concert last night. I would love to go to a TMBG concert with you.”
She stared at him, looking amused, he thought. The corners of her mouth were upturned and her eyes were dancing. He wondered how she did that, where she looked like she was brimming with life or at least mischief. He found himself smiling back at her, getting lost in her eyes the longer he looked at them. He let himself relax, sipping from his mug.
She heavily considered turning the cold shoulder back on, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. He really was charming when he wasn’t looking serial killer serious. “What songs do you like the most?” she asked him. He named all her favorites and a few more, including Birdhouse In Your Soul and Istanbul (Not Constantinople.)
“Hmm… yep. You need to go to a concert. They played all of those at the one I went to. I had a pretty good time… though I don’t have any friends anymore and I like sharing those kinds of experiences,” she said with a sad note in her tone. “Ben stole them all away from me. I could probably work to reverse that, but in my experience, people do whatever they want to no matter how much sense you’re making. Or not making, as it were.”
Her hand was back on the table now because she was holding the iPad and he decided it was now or never. He put his hands on both of hers and looked into her eyes. He said, “Then, obviously, I should be your friend.” She stared back at him without moving. He watched her face turn curious as she sat there, considering what he’d said. Her eyes slid from his face to the left, where she studied something invisible on the table for a time. She looked extremely deep in thought, so he waited as patiently as he could.
“I’m a very demanding friend, I’ll have you know,” she said finally, looking back at him. “I demand that you always tell the truth, no matter how terrible you might think it is,” she said, which made him gulp. “I demand that you do not mince your words. I demand death to small talk!” He grinned as she said that one, biting his lower lip, waiting for more. “I demand walks in the park, concerts, diner dashes, sharing silences, a gluten-free and dairy-free existence, going to the amusement parks, petting plenty of animals, mine or otherwise. I demand good food, good wine, and good conversation. I demand freedom to express myself however I want to,” she continued. He wondered how long this list was going to get and whether or not she realized it sounded more like a marriage proposal than a friendship proposal. “…faux ice cream runs, going out to the movies from time to time, and whatever else tickles my fucking fancy whenever it tickles my fancy. Basically. But you didn’t need to know all that, did you?” He shook his head at her, still grinning, still wondering if she knew what it sounded like or not.
“I also demand you know and understand that I’m autistic, I have schizophrenia, and if you disorganize my house, I will keel you,” she said, imitating Jeff Dunham’s Achmed the Terrorist suddenly. He couldn’t help himself. He burst into laughter. It was a pretty good impression of the ventriloquist dummy’s shtick. “Oh, and we ought to hit up a comedy club some time, I’m dying from too much sad faced seriousness around here,” she added. “Can I set down this iPad now or do you want to keep holding it up for me? My arms are tired.” He took the device from her and set it to the side, grabbing her hands again before she could squirrel away from him. She blinked at him and this time he could tell she was definitely amused. She couldn’t have showered yet, he thought, as he studied her slightly mussy hair. It didn’t look bad at all. Her hands turned on in his suddenly and he nearly recoiled as he felt the healing energy touch him. “That is sometimes outside of my control,” she admitted as he twitched. He nodded at her, not sure what to say next. “What do you demand, Diego?” she asked him, since he was still silent. Real friends asked for what they wanted, she thought, and he hadn’t asked for anything yet.
“Back massages. Hand holding,” she was blinking with each item he listed, which he thought was eternally cute. He went quiet, thinking as he looked into her eyes. “Meals together. REGULARLY.” She bit her lip at that one, knowing he was calling her on her avoidance for the past two months. She nodded and waited for more. “I’m also schizophrenic and I love this place exactly the way it is, but would you stop cleaning my bathroom? I’ll do it myself.” She nodded, looking at him earnestly. “And, if it’s not too much trouble, kisses. On the cheek, I mean.” She blinked at him several times, effectively fluttering her eyelashes at him. He thought he’d have a nosebleed any minute now.
She had no idea exactly how devastatingly cute she was, he was sure of it in that moment. He made a mental note to look up autism later and see what it really meant. As far as he was concerned, it was mostly a buzz word for antivaxxers to use as an excuse to endanger humanity. She was still looking at him, quiet. Waiting for more. She looked down at their hands just then and moved to turn hers over to actually hold his in return. He hadn’t quite expected that, but it made him smile. He felt like he finally reached her somehow. Who knew just asking would do it? He tried to decide if he had anything else he’d like to ask for. He had a feeling if he didn’t tell her now, he’d have to forever hold his peace. “I don’t want you going anywhere without me while I agree to protect you,” he told her. She nodded at him. “If you can stay inside, away from the patio, that would be great. I’ve got an idea for that but it’s going to take me a few days,” he said. He glanced at the clock just then. He was relieved to know he still had a few hours before work began. She nodded when he looked back at her. “And we should do something at least once a week outside of the house,” he told her. “Whatever you want to do. I want to make sure you get a change of scenery because if I was in your shoes, I’d be going crazy right now.”
“Okay. Can we listen to music once in a while, too? Oh… and…” she looked away, getting shy all of a sudden. “Yes, we can listen to music,” he told her when he thought she wasn’t going to finish her sentence.
“Do you play video games?” she blurted out, looking at Max instead of at him. He shook his head, smiling ear to ear. She did play video games. Hot diggity. She was still looking at Max so he waited until she returned her gaze to him. “That depends on what kind of video games you’re talking about, but I have from time to time,” he said. “I do like them.”
“What about movies?” she asked him. He nodded again. Was she planning to take up all his time, he wondered? Nay, he hoped. He really wouldn’t mind. He already wanted to give it to her. She looked down at their hands again, her expression open and inviting, though he couldn’t figure out what she was thinking from it.
“You have nice hands,” she said randomly. He blinked at her. He didn’t think he’d ever been complimented on his hands by a woman (or a man, for that matter) before. “Sorry, maybe it’s inappropriate to say such a thing,” she added, bringing a tear to his eye. His heart went out to her because she genuinely seemed concerned that it was not appropriate for their friendship, especially when he was the one toeing the line, suggesting physical affection that was atypical of friendships in the States. He knew it, too. He knew he was asking for more than he ought to and he felt a twinge of guilt. Though, to be honest, he was going to wait to try to introduce most of it later. She seemed to be lost most of the time, so he wanted to give her plenty of time to adjust and decide if she liked it or not as he added one thing at a time.
“Thank you, Sansara. You have nice hands, too,” he replied, figuring if she was allowed to say it, so was he. He meant it, too. They were soft and smooth in his grasp, pleasantly warm, and her nails were well kempt. And they were still on, as she called it. He could feel extra warmth and tingling from that. He hoped one day they would touch him in other places. Oddly, sex was far from his mind at that moment. He was actually quite happy about that because something told him that was going to be off limits for a very long time for her. It wouldn’t be such a bad idea for him, either. Not that he was looking to sleep with anyone. He had decided in that very moment that being celibate would be to his advantage.
“Thanks, Diego,” she said with a yawn. “This is Kundalini reiki at work,” she told him. “If you’d like to learn, I’ll teach you.” He wondered if she’d taught very many people before or if he might be the first to learn from her. He decided to just ask. She was less intimidating this morning than she had been in the past. He was going to have to get used to asking, he thought. “Do you teach many people?”
“I would if there were many people who would prioritize their time to learn it, but you will be my first disciple!” she declared exuberantly. “Tons of people don’t feel it’s a trade worth learning. I have the idea that they don’t know how to turn their hands on.” He had wondered how she did it. “I also have an idea that half the people who receive reiki training might not know how to turn their hands on, either, which is why some people view it as a farce. As if we’re all shysters instead of healers.” He shook his head at that. He had absolutely no opinion either way. He’d never met a reiki healer before, he told her. “I’ve met a few, but that’s not a story for now. What are your new hours?” she asked him point blank.
“Ten to six,” he told her. She looked at the clock and noted it was seven in the morning. He still had three hours. She contemplated starting his lessons on the spot. Then she wondered if her tankless water heater would keep up with two showers at once. She had a feeling if she didn’t suggest showering soon, he might not think to either, and then she’d forget to for the whole day.
“When do you want your first lesson?” she asked him. He was smiling at her. Just like that, the barrier was broken. She was spilling out, proving to be rather friendly, if sometimes lacking in tact. He didn’t mind, really. It made him believe she was not interested in playing games with him. But she was. The “let’s get married game,” that is. If he was willing to play. So far, all signals were go.
“Now sounds great,” he said. She took her hands out from his and set his down on the table, palms up. She told him to close his eyes and relax. As he did that, she thought about the fact he’d asked for a massage. She gave plenty of friends massages, albeit most of them were female, but right now she felt skittish about receiving one. She could be over the top with her auditory appreciation and she sensed danger, Will Robinson! DANGER!
“Imagine that you have two bodies. You have a physical body in this three dimensional world and a spiritual body in the five dimensional world. In most cases, they occupy the same exact space. Try to feel your other body,” she instructed him. “Especially in your hands. Your hands are covered in chakras, which are like tiny little mouths that open up to collect the universal life source.” He smiled even more as she continued to explain this strange metaphysical voodoo to him. She was staring at him unchecked while he had his eyes closed, but she kept her focus to continue instructing him somehow. She often lost focus altogether when distracted by the physical body of a human being. “Decide, like the powerful human that you are, that those chakras are open and drinking the energy that is the universe all around us.” She sounded a little odd to him in that moment, though he couldn’t tell exactly why that was. She sounded a little other worldly. He did exactly as she asked and was surprised when his own hands started to tingle with energy. He opened his eyes and stared at her just then.
“That’s it? That’s all you have to do?” he asked her incredulously. She was staring at him. With a thousand yard stare. What a creepy witch… and, yet, he wanted her to continue. She didn’t move her head or speak, but she put her hands about two inches above his.
“Very good, Diego. You’re now a Kundalini reiki healer. Use your new super power wisely… also, there is something called an attunement that goes with this. The attunement is time-based. The purpose of that attunement is to deepen and widen your ability to channel the universal life source, or reiki, in Japanese, and direct it to areas of the universe that require attention. I need you to drink a gallon or more of water for the next three days and eat as many vegetables as you can stand for the next ten days. I will give you the Kundalini attunements — they will release naturally over time. Though my sensei made each individual one separately for me, I believe I’ve figured out a no-stress method. The first three attunements happen just days apart and might make you feel a bit strange. They are, of course, optional. The point of them is to awaken the Kundalini dragon in your root chakra safely, so it can wrap around your spiritual spine. The Kundalini dragon can be awoken on accident in other ways, so if it is already awake but struggling, the attunement will resolve that. Attunement is a fancy word for a type of healing meant to expand your consciousness in one way or another. I totally suggest doing it at a time where you can be high as a kite. It was amazing when I received mine.”
He stared at her, his hands still tingling and humming with Source as she told him what should come next. “Okay, sure, whatever you say, boss,” he said finally. “A gallon of water a day, veggies. Uh… I don’t have any connections for cannabis,” he admitted to her.
She smiled at him just then. He realized that her hands were still hovering over his, and the feelings were beyond intense. She’d secretly been dying to try this all along, but she wasn’t going to tell him that. She hadn’t had anyone who was willing to explore reiki with her in the years since she’d become one. “Now, I will teach you how to heal yourself,” she said. As she spoke, she pressed his palms together, her fingers sliding over the backs of his hands as she pulled hers away.
“I think we will be great friends,” she said, standing up suddenly. “I need a shower,” she said and walked away. “Oh, and don’t drink so much coffee, it weakens the healing. I’m just an addict,” she called over her shoulder from the hallway. He couldn’t help but laugh. She was too much. No, that wasn’t the way to size it up. She was intense. He could handle it. He started to wonder if she grew weed on the third floor. If she was, he hadn’t smelled it at all. He couldn’t tell if she smoked or not, which probably meant she didn’t do it. Ganja was very strong when burned and the smell would linger for hours.
He appreciated her lack of minced words. He thought about all her demands again, trying to remember her long litany that sounded like a marriage proposal. He’d struggled with trying to ask her out for dates without making it sound like that’s exactly what he was doing. He rubbed his hands together, marveling at the warmth therein. He was going to play with this new trick all day, he bet. It was so crazy knowing you could just decide to turn them on.
It really works, too, I should tell you. You can try it right now. Seat yourself comfortably and put your hands on your thighs, palms up. Breathe in deeply and relax your body. Try to feel all the little mouth-like chakras all over your metaphysical hands, your spiritual hands. Decide that they open and you are connected to the universal life source.