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In a Room Without Walls
By Frank Modica
Ted rocked back and forth in a dry, rocky space, buffeted by a cacophony of cicadas chirping. Both of his hands rested on sparse clumps of grass and weeds. The night felt hot and humid for late September, and sweat trickled down his forehead. He had let his “spiritual” friends talk him into one last stab at enlightenment. So he sat in the dark, trying to meditate about the mysteries of the universe. Alone. Tired. He didn’t feel inspiration coming. Only more sweat.
Overhead the stars twinkled. The cicadas chirped louder. Closer. Light pollution from nearby towns lit up the sky with a dull haze, but the ground was dark and shaded. Ted felt isolated and distracted. To pass the time he tried to think about different songs from high school, but a nursery rhyme that he loved as a child kept popping up in his head. Annoying and not what he wanted to hear in this desolate space. But the tune wouldn’t go away, so he decided to go with it. Was the melody from Bach or Mozart? Wait a minute. Brahm’s Lullaby. He started to sing to himself.
“Twinkle, twinkle, little star….”
He wished his friend Karen was here, but she’d probably tell him, “If you can’t sing, don’t.”
She opted out of the experience when he asked her if she’d try a little meditation experiment, so he sang to his heart’s content. Karen criticized anything that seemed ethereal or irrational. Meditation and vegetarianism fit that bill. Karen teased him about his food fetishes and attachments to sad and lonely girls. She wasn’t one of them.
Ted wanted an iced coffee. Though he hated caffeine growing up, he’d developed a taste for sweet, icy concoctions served up by coffee bars and fast food restaurants. He could taste the chocolate, sweetened condensed milk, and espresso. Nice.
Looking around the field, Ted traced a line of sight to the trees and hills that glowed in the whiteness from the moonlight. He stretched out both arms and sat up tall as he pushed against imaginary walls around him. Mimes loved that kind of stuff--tracing walls without rooms, or a room without a wall. Chicken and egg kind of thing.
Ted got up. His hands slowly moved along an imaginary roof line. He could see the upper limits of his open spaces. “How I wonder what you are…”
Singing more of Brahm’s Lullaby, He pretended to knock against a door. Hello, anybody there. Opened a few windows. Pushed against a screen door. Stopped. Sat back down. This experiment wasn’t going anywhere. He pulled a cellphone out of his pocket. Time to go home. Maybe he’d call in an order for an ice cream coffee.