July 26, 2011
“… Let’s begin, shall we?” Lalita moved to the front of the studio, where her mat was already unfurled on the ground.
Cora had brought her own mat; there were several standing in the corner that anyone could use, but Lalita had given her one outright so that she could practice in her room if she wanted. Cora liked the slightly sticky purple foam, which had a paisley pattern in pink outlined along in one end. She and the Queen stood up, and Cora rolled her mat out while Miranda sought one of the extras and did the same.
Cora hated to admit it, but she felt a tiny bit of satisfaction as the session got underway, because while she was strong and agile, the Queen was no yoga prodigy; her alignment was dreadful, and even with her considerable physical prowess she lost her balance at one point and actually toppled over, giggling.
“Why don’t you try that one again?” Lalita suggested.
Miranda sobered and stood back up, and Lalita led her back into the pose; the Queen concentrated on her work, which was a relief, as Cora had feared she wouldn’t take what they were doing seriously, especially not the first time. But Miranda was completely respectful of Lalita’s knowledge and even paused to watch Cora during the Sun Salutation to get a different view of the flow of postures. Cora tried not to acknowledge her stare, but found herself blushing anyway.
“I’m sorry,” the Queen said. “I don’t mean to make you uncomfortable. But you really are a natural at this, Cora. You look like you were born to it.”
Cora blushed even more fiercely. “Thank you, my Lady.”
Lalita was smiling warmly at her. “I’ve taught yoga off and on for twenty years, and Cora is the quickest learner I’ve had so far. Just in the last few weeks she’s gained so much pose and grace – I’m very proud of her.”
Seeing how uncomfortable Cora was at being stared at, Lalita changed the subject. “All right, then, let us continue.”
After they moved through the entire series of asanas and spent several minutes lying in Corpse Pose, Lalita began a guided meditation for chakra clearing; in her tradition the body had seven primary energy centers, each corresponding to a different aspect of a person’s being, and those centers needed to stay healthy in order for the whole person to thrive. She led them through the meditation slowly, in deference to the Queen, and Cora visualized her energy moving up through her body, starting in the root chakra at the base of the spine and ending in the crown of the head. The energy opened each chakra, cleaned out any psychic debris, and left that aspect of the self running more smoothly. Cora wasn’t sure how much of Lalita’s spirituality she believed in, but when she did the meditation she could certainly feel something, and when it was done she always felt different, better.
When they reached the third-eye chakra, which ws supposed to govern one’s inner sight, Cora heard a gasp.
She opened one eye partway and saw that something odd was happening to the Queen.
Miranda was white as a sheet, and her breathing was shallow. She sat cross-legged as Cora and Lalita did, but her hands were clenched on her knees and her forehead was creased in what looked like pain.
“My Lady?” Cora asked in a whisper.
Lalita’s eyes popped open and she, too, looked worried. “Are you…”
Before she could finish the question, the Queen’s hands flew up to her forehead, covering her already-closed eyes. She moaned and doubled over. “No…”
Suddenly things all over the room began to shake.
Lalita put her hands on the Queen’s shoulders and tried to rouse her, but the Queen didn’t seem to hear; she was lost somewhere, and to Cora’s dismay the shield she was holding up around Cora began to tremble and dissolve and Cora could feel the Queen’s power again, this time surging dangerously. Hot, thick fear seized Cora’s heart, and she pushed herself away, all but crawling backward to put as much space between herself and the Queen a she could.
Things began to topple over. Mats fell, the fabric hanging Lalita had draped around the room sagged and then slipped from the walls … the very ground felt like it was shaking.
Lalita cried out in alarm, and Cora followed her whole eyes to see that the ceiling fan overhead was coming loose from its wiring.
The Queen screamed.
The fan tore from the ceiling and fell.
Cora flung herself forward, trying to push Lalita out of the way, and the two women tumbled backward in the chaos–
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