True To Yourself

by Carole Mortenson

PART 4— Small Steps

Go to Part 1

CHAPTER NINE – A Different Life

Jordan was interrupted again in her work at the dining room table. Megan was noisily playing with jacks on the hardwood floor right next to her feet.

"Megan," she told her tersely, "I said you need to get your homework done before you can spend the night at Suzanne's. I know it's Friday, but tomorrow we have a lot to do and there won't be time to do it then. And if we're going to be gone on Sunday, you need to get it done now , because there won't be time to do it then, either."

Megan looked up from her jacks.

"So go do it now !" Jordan emphasized. "Or I could say no to going over to Suzanne's tonight—" She let her voice trail out with the intended meaning.

"Okaaay—" Megan said, slowly getting up and wandering into her bedroom.

Jordan's patience was wearing thin. Her ten-year-old niece had come to live with her when Jordan's sister and her husband—Yvonne and Douglas Bedford—were both killed in a plane crash the day after New Year's Day. She wondered sometimes if she had done the right thing in bringing her here. There were times when Megan could be so exasperating and difficult. Jordan had to get her workshop material finished, and Megan was constantly underfoot. Was she like that when she was ten years old? But maybe it was just lack of sleep that was causing her impatience. Deep down inside, she knew Megan was such a sweet little girl, and Jordan hated to get on her case about things that were simply 'little girl' annoyances.

Megan's parents had left her at home in Indiana last December with Jordan's other sister, Monica, because they didn't want Megan to miss any additional school after the Christmas holidays were over. Even though the superstorm had passed through Indiana with much devastation, the State of California had escaped the fury of the storm and was surprisingly unscathed. All of the airports in the northern states had finally reopened a week after the storm, and a vacation over the Christmas holidays to a beautiful and restful resort area like Malibu was just the thing to celebrate the Bedford's twelfth wedding anniversary. They asked some old friends from upper New York State to join them.

As luck would have it, the couple who were staying with them had to fly back to New York on New Year's Day. There continued to be extensive flooding after the superstorm, and they feared for their property there. Yvonne and Douglas thought they might spend a few more days in California to take advantage of the gorgeous weather, but changed their minds at the last minute and booked a flight back to Indiana the next day.

Unfortunately, the Boeing 747 was caught in a sudden downdraft—a microburst over the Rocky Mountains—and crashed on the heavily wooded side of a mountain. There were no survivors out of the 253 passengers and crew on board. Plane wreckage was strewn over a vast area. The Bedfords were verified as passengers after rescuers finally reached the crash site two days later.

Jordan found herself in Indiana at the funeral soon after the beginning of the New Year. Her sister Monica was all torn up. She thought keeping Megan was just going to be for a few days, and she was carrying on about how she couldn't keep her permanently because she had so many mouths to feed already with four young children of her own. Her husband James was in Australia, and she was alone with all the kids now.

Monica's husband was originally from Melbourne, Australia, in the State of Victoria, and the big international insurance company he worked for had loaned him out to Indiana years ago. It turned out to be a permanent position. James and Monica met and married and proceeded to have four children, one after the other, before they decided that four were enough.

Now James' company requested that he report back to Melbourne and help assess damages from another extreme weather event that occurred two weeks after the superstorm went through Colorado and the northern part of the U.S. They needed all their men in the field. Strange weather phenomena were happening all over the planet, and a similar storm had come up from the Antarctic region and wreaked havoc in southern Australia.

Monica told Jordan that Megan was a troublesome child, and her husband was resenting—via long distance—the attention Monica was giving to her and neglecting her own children and blah, blah, blah. Jordan finally got fed up with Monica's excuses and said she would take Megan to live in Colorado Springs with her. That is, if that was all right with Monica.

All right? Of course, it was all right! Monica's complaints turned into all smiles. After the memorial service and burial and then the reception at Monica's house where food and condolences were handed out, Monica quickly packed Megan's suitcase. The little girl and Jordan were on the plane back to Colorado Springs that night. Monica said she would send some of Megan's other things after the Bedford's estate was settled—which she did shortly afterward.

Having a ten-year-old in the house was probably the farthest thing from Jordan's mind when she brought Megan home three months ago. She was heartbroken at the time. She vividly remembered the day last December when she received word concerning Ellie.

* * * * * *

Jordan drove back to her house forty-eight hours after the storm had begun. Although this unexpected extreme weather event had ended in less than twenty-four hours, it was still several hours before she could go home. The fire station had to wait until snowplows and other equipment could be brought into service to clear the main roads. Although they had made a few legitimate emergency calls after the elderly woman at the mall was transported to the hospital by the Fire Department Rescue Squad, other calls that were not life-or-death situations had to be ignored. It was too difficult to get anywhere. Most people understood the gravity of the situation.

Jordan's four-wheel-drive SUV had no problem navigating the side street to her house. The wind had piled up the snow in drifts several feet deep on the side of the road, but there was only about two feet of snow on the road itself. She could pull up only part way in her long driveway, however, because of a large drift alongside the house. She got of her SUV and slogged through the snow around to the back door and retrieved the snow shovel she had placed there two nights before. She wanted to shovel the short distance from her vehicle to her front door, so she would be able to get out quickly if the fire station called her to help out on another emergency.

After shoveling for half an hour, she was able to open the front door to her house and went inside. It was cold and empty—just as she was inside. The heaviness hit her again—and the desolation. She was exhausted as well as depressed. Memories of the dark-haired woman she had seen briefly at the mall vanished as she lit a fire in the fireplace. She sat on the couch and watched the flames flicker high into the chimney. She felt as if her life was going up with those flames. What was she going to do now? The woman who had been her partner had betrayed her, and Jordan had sent her and her friend Madge packing two nights ago. She wondered where Ellie was right now. Her heart was like a lead weight. She fell asleep on the couch with troublesome dreams interrupting what otherwise might have been a sound—though exhausted—sleep.

Rescue efforts were ongoing for many days following the storm. People had been caught out on Interstate 25 and were stranded in their vehicles, not daring to leave them because of the intense blizzard conditions. Many died in the superstorm's wake because rescue teams couldn't reach the stranded motorists quickly enough.

The day after Jordan came back home from the fire station, rescuers found Ellie. She had been on her way to Denver the morning after she left Jordan's house when the storm hit. North of Colorado Springs, past Monument, the blizzard was already much fiercer than it was south of the Palmer Divide. Ellie's car had slid off the road and gone over an embankment and overturned on its side. She had been trapped inside, and the heavy snow came down and covered her vehicle. Interstate 25 had closed at 9 a.m. the day of the storm. Three days after the storm passed, road crews were able to clear one lane in each direction to and from Denver. A motorist following behind a snowplow had spotted something neon pink over to the side of the road.

It was that stupid bright little ball that Ellie put on her radio antenna, Jordan remembered. She thought it was a frivolous thing, but Ellie insisted she needed something flashy on her car.

When Marshall called from the fire station and gave her the news, she inquired, "Was there anyone with her?" No, they didn't find anyone else.

So where was Madge? Jordan didn't really care where Madge was. She was dead inside and felt a loss so terrible, she couldn't have begun to describe it to anyone.

A day later they found Madge. She had been thrown from the vehicle about 50 feet from where Ellie's car landed. Her injuries had been severe, and she had tried to crawl up the embankment to the highway for help but didn't make it.

Jordan went through the motions of the funeral, a small gathering of firefighters attending, as well as a few friends they had known. But she wasn't there mentally or emotionally.

For three weeks afterward, she went to work, did her job and was exhausted when she got home. She sat before the fireplace and ate microwaved frozen dinners or home-delivery pizza in the evening. A sense of dullness and loss pervaded her everyday experience.

On the days she was off work, however, she helped neighbors and friends try to pull their lives together after the devastating shock of the storm subsided. She was still a rescuer . She knew that with all her being. But she hadn't been able to rescue Ellie. On the contrary, she had kicked her out! So guilt hung heavily over her head as well.

Jordan gave away the TV, which she felt—because of Madge's obsession—had contributed to the whole situation. She packed up Ellie's and Madge's things and carted the boxes off to the Salvation Army. She wanted nothing left in her house to remind her of Ellie or their life together. She called Goodwill to come and haul off the beds, dressers and nightstands from the bedroom she and Ellie had shared and the guest bedroom that Madge had occupied. She slept on the couch in front of the fireplace, piling her clothes in boxes on the floor at one end of it. She didn't trust herself to come anywhere near the two bedrooms again.

Christmas came and went. Jordan did no celebrating. What was there to celebrate? With Christmas over, she began to feel a slight lifting of her spirits and knew she had to begin all over and just get on with life. Surely there was life somewhere again, wasn't there?

Then she got the phone call about her sister Yvonne and her husband Douglas.

* * * * * *

"I'm finished with my homework, Aunt Jordan," said Megan, emerging from her bedroom.

Jordan had given over the bedroom she had shared with Ellie to Megan. She brought in a smaller bed, a student desk and a delightful little girl's dresser which had pink bunny and yellow butterfly decals all over it. A multi-colored, braided rug covered the wooden floor. It was a happy room now, and Megan usually did her schoolwork in there.

Jordan had moved into the smallest of the three bedrooms which was right off the kitchen. It had a three-quarter bathroom. She had formerly used it for storage. She needed little more than a bed to sleep in now and a place to change her clothes. She moved the storage items to the guest bedroom and locked it up.

"Can I go over to Suzanne's now? Pleeeze—" Megan pleaded.

Jordan looked up from what she was working on. "Sure. Have you got your overnight case packed? Got your jammies?"

Megan Bedford and Suzanne Faulkner had become good friends. They were the same age, went to the same school, and Suzanne lived right across the street. Suzanne's mother took care of Megan when Jordan was working. It was an ideal situation.

"I'll go get my stuff," Megan said excitedly. She skipped and bounced back into her bedroom. She came out and headed towards the front door, her overnight case in hand.

"Hey, wait a minute. Don't I get a goodnight hug?" Jordan said.

Megan came back to the dining room table and hugged Jordan around the neck, a childlike hug of acceptance and trust. It warmed Jordan all over. She knew it was hard on Megan to lose her parents at her age. Jordan couldn't replace them, but she was trying her best to be a good mom. She hugged her back tightly, snuggling her face into Megan's curly brown hair.

Megan pulled away. "Aunt Jordan, how come you live by yourself?"

Jordan was taken by surprise. She searched for an answer.

"Well, Megan, I don't live by myself. You live here with me."

"Yes, I know that," Megan said exasperatedly. "But you lived by yourself before I came here, didn't you?"

"Yes." Megan couldn't have known about Ellie, could she?


"Because I chose to."

"Don't you ever want to get married? And have kids of your own?"

Another surprise question. When she and Ellie were together, they had talked about having children. Cautiously, Jordan said, "No, I don't think I do."

"Why not?"

Jordan almost choked. "Megan, you just ask too many questions that I really can't answer right now. Maybe some day when you're older we can sit down together, and I can explain some things to you. Okay? Right now, you better hurry on over to Suzanne's house before they figure you're not coming and turn the porch light off and go to bed.

"And remember," she continued, "I want you to behave yourself over there. I'll come and pick you up just before noon, and we'll go out to lunch. Then when we get back home, we have to clean house and do the washing and some other things, so we can have a great day at the Fire Museum on Sunday without worrying about chores at home."

"Do I hafta do washing?" Megan asked, her nose wrinkling up.

"Yeah, you hafta ," Jordan said. "No one sleeps in your bed but you, so you hafta wash your own bedding. And no one wears your clothes but you, so you hafta wash your own clothes. I do the same thing. You need to start taking care of yourself now , Megan. Someday you're going to be on your own, and no one is going to do things for you then."

"Okay," Megan grudgingly conceded. "But can I choose where we go to lunch tomorrow?"

"Sure. You can tell me when I pick you up. Now git!" she said, standing up and gently swatting Megan on the behind.

"Okay. 'Night, Aunt Jordan." Almost running to the door, Megan turned and waved just as she exited the house. Jordan waved in return, yawned and stretched and then sat back down at the dining room table.

Megan would know about her sexual orientation one day, but Jordan thought she was too young to understand now. After the big snowstorm ended just before Christmas, she never socialized or associated with other women except at work or talking to a neighbor over the fence. Right now her work as a paramedic and raising Megan were at the center of her life. She was almost over what happened with Ellie, and her sexual desire had definitely waned. She felt no need to get involved with another woman. If she ever did again, Megan would know who she was soon enough.

She brought her attention back to what she was doing. She forced her mind to come back to the present moment and concentrate on reworking her yoga chakra workshop material—sorting through and laying out the most important things. She was scheduled to start teaching her workshop in approximately three weeks.

She wasn't aware of how fast time passed until she glanced down at her watch and realized it was time to go to bed. She took a long, leisurely shower, thankful for the partial bathroom attached to her bedroom. She wouldn't have to use the full bathroom that was sandwiched between Megan's bedroom and the former 'guest' bedroom. She was still very uncomfortable in that regard. And since Megan used the full bathroom, she had instructed her niece how to clean it, so she really had no reason to step foot in there at all. Except for a cursory glance from time to time to make sure Megan was doing a good job keeping it clean. Jordan was learning that memories took a long time to fade away.

She ate a protein/carb snack before she went to bed, having learned through a nutrition class that these two foods eaten together often brought on sleep quicker than usual. Then she went to bed, burying herself under the covers. She tossed and turned while she had exquisite and exciting dreams of the woman with the dark-brown eyes she had seen in the mall months ago.


CHAPTER TEN – An Awakening

"Jess, I'm so glad you decided to come to class today!" Andy exclaimed. "I know you're going to love it! Did you have a problem finding the studio?"

"Not really. I saw you standing on the sidewalk out in front where you said you'd be, so I thought this must be the right place. I didn't think you were waiting for a bus." Jess's voice was cheerful as she tried to joke with Andy.

"What persuaded you to finally try yoga?" Andy asked, after chuckling at Jess's wry humor. She and her friend started to climb the outside back stairs to The Feminine Spirit Yoga Studio on the second floor.

"Well, I realized I needed to do something just to get out of the house," Jessica replied. "I was going crazy! The lady I worked for as a nanny moved out of state—she said to a warmer climate. Can't fault her for that. I had been with her for so long that after she moved, I was out of the loop. Even though she left me a reference, no one wants a nanny right now. Times are too unsettled. And after that snowstorm four months ago, people are sitting on their money, not knowing when they might have to use it in an emergency. Maybe for survival."

Jess paused in her story and glanced at Andy, who had been nodding her head at what she'd been saying. She expected some sort of response from Andy, but when none was forthcoming, she continued.

"Anyway, since Bob got a promotion, I really don't need to work. Thanks to Ken's help in giving him the push and recommendation he needed, he makes more money now than both of us did before the storm. I can afford to do something like this now. So I quit the few babysitting jobs I had left. Bob doesn't mind me doing yoga with you, since we've known each other for years. He even volunteered to drive me here, which I thought would be all right. We have that new car, you know, and I just haven't learned to drive it yet. It's so fancy and all. It will take me a long time to figure out all that digital computer stuff—"

Andy let Jessica rattle on. God, isn't she ever quiet? But she knew that when they started the class, Anna-Marie wouldn't let anyone talk but herself. So Jess needed to get it out of her system before they began. One question was enough to keep Jess rolling for quite a while. Jess was very talkative and nosey most of the time, but Andy had grown to appreciate her over the years.

* * * * * *

As they ascended the stairs, Jess's mouth going full throttle, Andy remembered when she first joined this yoga class about a year ago. She felt like she needed to do something more than what she was doing at the time. She worked in the yard, read and did research at the library and on her computer, cooked for her husband, and once in a while took a two-hour drive with Ken up into the mountains. Their twin boys had long ago departed to live in California, so they never went camping anymore. She had no other living relatives. If they went on longer trips, it was always to see some of Ken's relatives—totally boring to her. Life was dull. She was in a rut.

She really didn't want to go to work for something else to do, and Ken didn't want her to. She wondered what kind of work she could do, anyway, because being a homemaker was all she knew outside of her post-high school graduation clerical job before she met Ken.

"You don't have to work," Ken had said. "I make enough money to support us quite well." End of discussion. So she had fallen into the role of dutiful housewife and homemaker.

One day sitting in a lawn chair in the back yard enjoying the view of Pikes Peak—doing nothing in particular—she had a sudden awareness of something hollow about her life, something unfulfilled that kept gnawing at her. It wasn't that she was feeling the empty nest syndrome. She had gotten over that long ago. It was something else. There was something lacking in her life. She thought that more exercise other than her daily mall walk was what she craved.

So she signed up for a Monday evening yoga class through her hospital's support programs, trying to accommodate Ken's schedule, since he was gone on Monday evenings, also.

She was only two months into her yoga lessons when she first began to notice something different was happening to her. Her way of looking at people, especially at women, was changing. It was fascinating. She couldn't begin to explain how she was drawn to the physicalness of women's bodies—the way they were built—how soft and round they were. She loved to watch the way they moved while they were practicing yoga. She had never really noticed women before, and it was a new, exciting awareness.

In this heightened awareness of women, from what she perceived as a benefit of taking yoga, she was also experiencing unusual feelings in her own body she had never before experienced—sensuous, sexual feelings toward women. She'd never dreamed she'd feel that way about women, because she had been afraid of most women all of her life—Jess being the exception.

* * * * * *

When Andy's parents separated for three years when she was five years old, her mother put her in a boarding home. There she was subjected to physical and verbal abuse at the hands of the woman 'caregiver.' She was at that place for only a few months, but because of the abuse, she was devastated and avoided women as much as possible after that—for all of her life. Her brother had been placed in a different boarding home and never knew what happened. Andy never talked about her experience with anyone .

So she was equally devastated when Anna-Marie accused her of trying to make a hit on her. God, I never even knew what a hit was! Andy remembered.

For quite a while after that event, she continually rehashed in her mind what happened between her and her yoga instructor. She didn't know what was going on in herself at the time and didn't completely understand even now.

Anna-Marie had moved her classes to another place for a month in the early fall while her studio was being remodeled. The room she rented was on the second floor of a warehouse-like building, in the farthest corner of the building. One had to walk through dark rows of merchandise stored there in order to get to the room. As a safety precaution, the class had worked out a 'buddy' system the first week they were there—at Andy's suggestion. This meant that after class no one would walk out of the dark building alone at night. They would always walk out with at least one other person. This worked well for the first couple of weeks.

On the third week, everyone had left after class except Andy, who thought she should stay and wait to walk out with Anna-Marie, who had to finish up a couple of things before she could leave. That was the 'buddy' system.

The problem was that Anna-Marie didn't know Andy was waiting for her. And when she came out of the yoga room and saw Andy standing there—kind of in the shadows—she came unglued! She raked Andy up one side and down the other, saying it was safe for her to walk out alone and that Andy had scared her to death. She said a few other choice things, too, replete with cursing.

Then, as if to add insult to injury, she proceeded to accuse Andy of stalking her, trying to seduce her. As if she was a pervert or something! Andy had never been confronted by a woman in all of her adult life. But she remembered her childhood, and here it was repeating itself. Verbal abuse. She was frightened and completely innocent, but didn't know how to explain herself—even to point out that she was following the 'buddy' system the class had all agreed on.

It was true that Andy had a growing awareness of a strong physical attraction to Anna-Marie, but didn't understand that, either. She definitely wouldn't have tried to do anything with her yoga teacher, and wouldn't know what to do, anyway. She reasoned in herself that she shouldn't have been attracted to her in the first place because she was married.

That reasoning to her now, several months later, seemed so utterly irrational. What did marriage to a man have to do with attraction to a woman?

Nevertheless, when that devastating encounter occurred, it left her confused and disoriented.

Andy continued on with yoga after that, however, because she loved the results that the consistent practice brought to her body. When Anna-Marie moved back into her studio, Andy switched from the Monday evening class to a daytime class at noon on Saturdays. She quietly entered the studio each session, practiced her yoga, and quickly left afterwards.

After some hesitation, as Andy kept coming to her classes and no further incident followed, Anna-Marie came to the conclusion within herself that maybe she had been wrong in assuming that Andy was trying to pick her up—that her student actually was innocent.

Nevertheless, Andy couldn't explain the erotic dreams she had experienced before Anna-Marie's accusation. Sometimes the sexual dreams of women had been so intense, with such vivid color and detail, that she would awaken in the night and have to bring herself to orgasm manually to release herself from the overwhelming passion that consumed her.

She took to sleeping alone after she started having these dreams—in a separate bedroom—making what seemed to be valid excuses to Ken. Sex was always just around the corner in the other bedroom. She could have had Ken anytime she wanted, and he would have been delighted. But the thought of sex with him disgusted her. She didn't even want Ken to touch her anymore.

After Anna-Marie's confrontation, the dreams stopped—along with the attraction. Andy had been shaken to the core. She went back to distancing herself from other women out of fear, as she had done all of her life. She wasn't sure she wanted to become friends with any woman if what happened with Anna-Marie might happen again. She decided her attraction for Anna-Marie must have been just a freak of nature—an imbalance of hormones. Her body had been playing a joke on her. She was at that age when those things could happen.

She also viewed the reason she quit going to the gym—and seeing those naked women walking around—as just another thing in her life she couldn't explain other than blaming it on hormones. But she didn't want to return to Ken's bed. She'd grown comfortable sleeping alone. She'd always slept by herself when she was growing up, long before she ever met Ken.

She thought these feelings for women would soon pass, and everything would return to normal. However, things didn't return to normal. On a cold, stormy day a couple of weeks before last Christmas, she saw Jordan MacKenzie. And her life turned upside down.

Although she knew she would probably never see Jordan again, she was forced to look at her life in an entirely different way. Instead of blaming hormones, she realized that she actually was seriously attracted to women, but she didn't know exactly what that meant or what to do about it.

* * * * * *

Andy brought her mind back to the present time. As she and Jess went into the studio, she looked at what her friend was wearing. She realized Jess's clothes were not quite appropriate for yoga. When she talked to Jess over the phone a few days ago, she forgot to tell her to wear something loose and comfortable. They would get through today with Jess in jeans, and Andy would brief her before the next class.

The yoga studio was large enough to accommodate ten students. If there were more than that, they would be so close together that everyone would be invading everyone else's space. Anna-Marie would get upset if people were too close together, especially if they had to crowd so close to each other that they were overlapping her space.

Andy and Jessica rolled out their mats and each got a pillow out of the covered wooden box lining the wall at one end of the studio. Although mats and pillows were heaped up inside the box for students who didn't have any, Anna-Marie stressed the importance of each student having their own personal mat.

At least Jess bought herself a yoga mat, Andy thought.

Jessica continued to talk. As they sat down on their pillows, Andy looked over and glared at her. "Shhhh," she said. Jess immediately became quiet. Andy told her to close her eyes. Then she closed her own eyes and started to meditate. She sat cross-legged on her cushion, trying to still the thoughts racing through her mind.

* * * * * *

She wondered why she was still coming to yoga classes. Although she and Anna-Marie had patched things up between them months ago—and their relationship was amiable enough now—there was still the uncertainty that something might happen again, resulting in Anna-Marie telling her off once more. Anna-Marie was a controlling person, and every now and then Andy would say something—entirely innocent, meaning nothing by it—and Anna-Marie would get upset with her. Then after class, Andy would leave, thinking she was never coming back. Her self-esteem was at an all-time low most of the time.

But somehow she always managed to suck it up and return for another class. She didn't know where else to go, as she still wanted to take yoga lessons. Anna-Marie was an excellent teacher. In fact, Andy had thought seriously of learning how to teach yoga, but was unable to take the first step in that direction out of fear. And she never brought herself to the point where she decided to take a second yoga class as she had planned at one time a few months ago.

Anna-Marie had noticed Andy's renewed interest in yoga after the Christmas holidays and was thrilled with the progress she was making. Even though she would get upset with Andy now and then over some trivial thing, overall she was trying to help her and encouraged her to go into teaching. When Andy voiced her reason for not going on a yoga retreat—that she didn't feel she could do anything like that by herself—Anna-Marie told her, "Well, I can't hold you by the hand all the time. You just have to get out there and do it. I can't go with you. I simply don't have the time."

Fear of striking out on her own and being among women outside of her yoga class was a constant battle within herself, and Andy knew it was one battle only she could overcome.

* * * * * *

Anna-Marie came out of her office adjoining the studio when it was time for class to begin. Other students had gathered in the studio, until there were a total of eight.

"I see we have a new student," Anna-Marie said, eyeing Jessica. She looked around the room, mentally counting how many students she had today. "Is this your friend, Andrea?" Anna-Marie always called Andy by her given name—like Ken did.

"Yes. This is Jessica Sessions," Andy responded.

Anna-Marie was a proper French woman, endowed with an ample body, not at all the shape that one normally associates with yoga practitioners. Thinness was not a prerequisite for yoga, and Anna-Marie was proof of that. She was about the same height as Andy—five-foot-four—and Andy learned early on that she was in her early fifties. She sure doesn't look it, Andy had thought at the time. She looks so young!

Anna-Marie's blonde hair was almost shoulder length, wavy, highlighted in brown, and her beautiful blue eyes sparkled. She never wore lipstick or any other makeup.

Anna-Marie had such a thick French accent that it took Andy three classes before she could really understand what Anna-Marie was saying. Although she had been in the U.S. for over 30 years, she had never lost her accent. She travelled to Europe each year to visit her siblings—all nine of them! Anna-Marie was the eldest, and Andy began to understand that this was probably why she was such a controlling person!

"Welcome to the class, Jessica," Anna-Marie said. "You'll find this is a very easy class. It's called Kripalu yoga. Kripalu actually means compassion . It's a gentle, flowing yoga. One thing Kripalu will do for you is help you delve into the inner recesses of your being and become at peace with who you are through this process."

That is so true , Andy thought. And it's painful when emotions rise up unexpectedly and hit you squarely in the solar plexus and you have to deal with them. But I haven't found that peace yet. I haven't found who I really am!

Anna-Marie was saying, "We start out with meditation and then do some asanas—which are yoga postures. Then we go into a relaxation period at the end where your body assimilates all that it has learned. This particular class is for beginners, but we have a few students here that are beyond that now." She paused and looked at Andy and then turned back to Jess. "Have you ever practiced yoga before?"

"No. This is my first time," Jess said. "I thought I'd give it a try."

"You'll soon learn that the secret of yoga is not that you attend a couple of classes and then don't come back, but that you stay with it and reap the full benefits. Eventually you come to the place where you are taking yoga off the mat. But I'm sure you'll discover that for yourself. You have a very good example in Andrea."

Andy looked at her yoga teacher with utter surprise. Coming from Anna-Marie, it was indeed a compliment!

* * * * * *

Class was over precisely at 1 o'clock. Andy and Jess walked down the back steps five minutes later, discussing where to go for lunch.

"I'm really hungry," Jess said. "I haven't had anything to eat except a bowl of instant oatmeal since early this morning."

"I'm hungry, too," Andy responded. "I know a place close by where they serve retro food."

"What do you mean— retro ?" Jess asked.

"They serve food like good old-fashioned hamburgers, home-made French fries, real malts. That kind of thing. Retro , meaning food like it used to be in the 1950s."

"Let's go there!" Jess said excitedly. "I haven't had a real malt in years !"

She went on, "What did Anna-Marie mean when she said she would check on that workshop for you as we were leaving?" They strolled toward Andy's car as they talked.

"Oh, I've been reading about the chakras and had asked her about a workshop. She said she used to do workshops herself, but doesn't anymore because she doesn't have the time. But she had taken a workshop last summer from a lady who was an excellent instructor. She didn't know if that lady was teaching workshops anymore, but she'd check on it. I'm thinking of teaching yoga, and I need to learn more about the chakras. A workshop would be one way to go."

"Are you really going to teach?" Jess asked, awestricken. This was the first time she had heard Andy mention it.

"Let's say I've thought about it. I haven't taken the first step yet."

How could she explain to Jessica that the thought of getting up before a group of women terrified her? How could she say how difficult it was for her to relate to women? How could she explain how hard it was for her to undertake anything new by herself where women were involved? Jess was not the kind of person she could talk to about these things. She was a friend, but not that kind of a friend.

"What's a chakra?" Jess asked, remembering what Andy had said.

"A chakra, Jess," Andy explained, "is literally a vortex of energy. In addition to our physical body. It can be measured as electromagnetic force fields within and around all living things. Well, Jess, at the core of this energy field the psychic body appears as spinning disks, called chakras. We have seven main chakras, and these map onto our body up and down our spine through the nerve ganglia. These chakras connect our physical existence to higher and deeper non-physical realms."

Jess was staring at her in total incomprehension.

Andy continued. "The energy needs to flow freely through these chakras, Jess, for us to be healthy. If the chakras are shut down, clogged, or not functioning properly, a person can get sick. All kinds of breakdowns can occur in your body—anything from cancer to back problems, to depression—"

"Now sick I understand," Jess interrupted. "That sounds serious."

"It is, Jess," Andy said. "That's why I need to learn more about it, so I'll be able to teach yoga more effectively."

"I know for sure that I'm going to be stiff tomorrow," Jess said, changing the subject, as she didn't really understand what Andy was talking about. "But it felt so good to just relax there at the end. I almost fell asleep."

"Yeah, that's one of the best parts of Kripalu yoga. When you're done exercising, you let the benefits of that entire work course through your body in free-flowing energy up and down your chakras. The asanas get easier the more you do them."

As they got into the car, Andy thought how much she was looking forward to lunch, even if Jessica did talk too much. It had been a while since she and Jessica had gone to lunch together. Andy usually ate lunch alone after her yoga class. Although she called it the Saturday noon yoga class, it actually ran from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. She walked at the mall in the morning and then went home and changed clothes and came here for her yoga class. She could be away from the house longer this Saturday—away from Ken and his constant nagging and complaining—because Jess was with her. She was always famished after the class because she never ate before she came. She thought about what she would eat at the retro restaurant, although she had been there only once before and couldn't recall the menu. But she'd order a chocolate malt , for sure! It would be her comfort food for the day.



It was 11:30 Saturday morning when Jordan finished with her workshop material. She had been diligent yesterday and last night in getting most of it done, so only had to spend an hour on it this morning. She had slept in on this second day of her four-day break and was still lounging around in an old pair of sweatpants and raggedy T-shirt as she thought of what was next on her list to do in her day. She glanced at her watch.

Plenty of time to change clothes and pick Megan up for lunch. I need to drive by Kinko's first to print these flyers and get them distributed before we go eat.

She felt refreshed this morning after a good night's sleep. She was aware of a renewed, invigorating view of life and didn't know what to contribute it to. As she got dressed after putting her workshop material away, she didn't remember dreaming anything special that would cause her to feel so upbeat. In fact, she didn't remember dreaming at all.

She pulled her SUV out of the driveway and over to the other side of the street, wondering where Megan had decided to go to lunch. She didn't have long to wait.

Megan came running out of Suzanne's house, yelling, "I want to go to Gunther Toody's ! I want to go to Gunther Toody's !" She pulled open the door on the passenger side, threw her overnight bag in the back seat and climbed in the front.

"Can we go to Gunther Toody's for lunch? Please, Aunt Jordan?" she asked.

Her voice was more subdued now, because she knew her aunt didn't like her to shout. Jordan said shouting was unnecessary unless someone needed to hear you across a raging river or if you were really upset with someone. Sometimes Megan displayed her enthusiasm more than she needed to. It had previously been an appropriate response if she wanted to be heard above her cousins back in Indiana. They yelled all the time!

"Why do you want to go to Gunther Toody's ?" Jordan inquired curiously.

"Suzanne says they have the best chocolate malts ever! They come in a can right out of the fountain!" Megan exclaimed.

Jordan laughed, knowing what the little girl meant, although she didn't get her words out exactly right.

"I guess we can go there. I haven't had a good malt for a long time, either. But first I need to stop at Kinko's and run off some copies of this flyer. Then we need to stop at a few yoga studios and put some up on their bulletin boards."

Posting flyers in yoga studios was the best way Jordan knew to recruit students. Most of the women she attracted to her workshop were into yoga and body work.

As she made her way to Kinko's , she thought how excited she was to be back teaching. When Mavis, the manager of a yoga studio on the north side of town, called last month and asked her if she could do another chakra workshop like she did last summer, she jumped at the chance. She'd had a very positive response from her students then. She remembered one yoga teacher—Anna-Marie—had been in that workshop and made some good suggestions which Jordan was going to incorporate this time. She definitely wanted to leave some flyers at Anna-Marie's studio.

It was 12:55 p.m. when Jordan pulled up to the back steps of The Feminine Spirit Yoga Studio . She told Megan to wait in the SUV. This was the last studio on her list for putting up flyers. But after seeing how disappointed her niece appeared to be, she relented and handed her a few flyers to carry up the back stairs.

She strode down the hallway to the bulletin board and heard relaxing music coming from inside the studio. Anna-Marie must be having a class today, she thought. She's in relaxation mode right now. I can tell, because all I hear is music. She carefully and quietly tacked up the flyers.

On the way back down the stairs, Megan asked, "Can I take yoga classes someday, Aunt Jordan?"

Jordan never ceased to be amazed at the questions Megan asked. When any other ten-year-old girl's mind would be on the chocolate malt she would be consuming shortly, Megan was asking about yoga.

"Or course you can. But don't you have something like that in school right now? Some stretching exercises or something?"

"Yeah, but that's not the same thing as yoga, is it? I want to do the real thing !"

"When you're old enough—in a few years."

"Everything is always, 'when you're old enough, Megan.' When am I going to be old enough, Aunt Jordan?"

Jordan looked at her oddly, wondering what was going on in Megan's mind. But she didn't have time to dawdle over conversation right now. Too many things to do.

* * * * * *

As Andy walked to her car with Jess, bells started ringing in her head. Was I just imagining it, or was there a flyer up on the bulletin board when we came out of class that wasn't there when we went in? She racked her brain, thinking that she saw CHAKRA WORKSHOP across the top of a brilliant neon blue flyer out of the corners of her eyes. Maybe that's what Anna-Marie was talking about. Oh well, I'll remember to look next week. I don't want to go back up there right now. It can wait.

* * * * * *

Just before Jordan pulled around the corner of the building in her SUV, Megan looked back and saw two women coming down the stairs of the yoga studio. They were both carrying yoga mats, and Megan thought the one who was dressed in yoga clothes—matching black pants and shirt, with a white stripe down the side of her pants—was really cool. She voiced her thoughts to Jordan of how one day she was going to be just like that lady. She would wear the same kind of clothes and carry a yoga mat. She told Jordan about her thoughts of practicing yoga in years to come as they made their way to the restaurant.

* * * * * *

"Well, was it worth it?" Jordan asked.

"Was what worth what ?" Megan asked back, scraping the last bit of thick chocolate ice cream out of her malt container with a spoon.

"The chocolate malt, silly! Isn't that why we came here?"

"Oh, yeah, it was scrumptious!" Megan said. She tipped the container up and slurped the few remaining drops of her malt. "Next time can Suzanne come with us?"

"Maybe we'll want to go someplace different next time," Jordan said playfully. "We don't always want to each lunch at the same place, do we?"

"Well, that all depends. If you like a certain place, why go to another place you might not like?"

A wise child, Jordan thought, as she listened with her back towards a woman conversing on her cell phone four booths away. The woman sounded agitated. She's certainly loud enough!

Cell phones should be outlawed in eating places. People seem to think they have to shout into them, and it interrupts everyone else trying to eat. That goes over like a lead balloon in theaters, too. That's why they instruct everyone to turn off their phones before the movie starts.

Jordan carried her cell phone with her, hooking it onto her pocket or belt—and turned the ringer off when she was in a restaurant or other private establishment. She carried it with her not for personal calls—which she had very few of anymore—but because she might get an emergency call from the fire station wanting her to come in as soon as possible. This had happened four times in the last two months.

While Colorado had been experiencing erratic and heavy snowfalls all winter long, other states were at the opposite end of extreme weather events. Unusual storms were occurring all over, but the most damaging were the raging and virtually unstoppable firestorms in the western states. Tinder-dry and sweltering conditions had unleashed a series of wildfires in California, for example, that were unreal in their ferocity.

Colorado Springs had sent a fair number of rescuers to help out in these severe situations, leaving some of the city's fire stations short-handed. So Jordan wound up working more hours than usual. She was thankful, though—for Megan's sake—that she had not been one of the EMTs sent to California. And the overtime she was pulling meant more money in her pocket.

Ordinary people making ordinary, unnecessary phone calls on cell phones inside restaurants seemed ridiculous to Jordan. She wondered why they couldn't go outside if they absolutely had to talk. Unless it was the fire station, Jordan relegated her calls to a voice mail that would tell anyone that she would call back. And…she set it on “pulse” so it wouldn't ring out loud when she was out in public.

She glanced around, irritated, to see who was talking. However, she saw only the back of a woman's head through the window of the booth rising above the back rest. She had short, dark-brown hair—and a cell phone was glued to her right ear.

* * * * * *

"Ken, I can hear you! Stop yelling! And slow down," Andy said, almost yelling herself. "What did you say you needed at Home Depot? Why can't you get it yourself?"

Ken was definitely agitated, but not as much as Andy. She knew better than to try and placate him, though, especially when he had called her and was yelling in her ear.

"All right," she managed to say. "I'll stop by and get it as soon as Jess and I leave here. We're right in the middle of lunch right now. Can't it wait just a few minutes?"

Ken said something loudly enough that Andy had to hold the phone away from her ear.

"Okay, okay," she said when he finished. "What size to do you need? How long?" Ken yelled out something else.

"Okay," Andy responded. "I'll be home in just a little bit." She folded up the phone and stuck it in her pocket.

"God, Jess, I don't think Ken can do anything for himself anymore. I thought it was a good idea to get cell phones after the superstorm hit last December when we were in the mall. But I never dreamed Ken would be calling me every time I go out somewhere. Even when he's at work, he calls! I turn it off when I'm at yoga, but he tells me to leave it on, otherwise. He's driving me out of my mind!"

"What does he want now, Andy Lee?" Jess solemnly asked.

"A water pipe busted in the basement. He's turned off the water, but he needs a certain length and diameter of pipe to fix it. He could go get it as well as me. Probably even better than me because he knows what he wants. I don't understand why he has to interrupt my lunch and tell me to get it. It shouldn't be that big of a deal for him. It's not like the dam broke and our house was floating away! If it's such an emergency, why doesn't he call a plumber?"

Jess could see her friend was highly irritated. "We're just about finished with lunch, anyway, Andy Lee," she said cheerily. "I don't want any dessert. I'm full. Why don't we just go?"

"Okay. I guess we may as well. He's spoiled my appetite for anything else, anyway." She shoved her half-finished chocolate malt aside and beckoned for the waitress to bring her the check.

Andy dug her wallet out of her pocket and looked up to see where the cash register was. She noted some breath-freshener mints on the countertop as she slid out of the booth and waited for Jess to gather up her things.

She turned back to the booth for an instant to make sure she hadn't left anything in the seat. When she turned around to focus on the cash register again, she noticed that a tall, well-built woman had walked up to the counter and was paying her bill. The woman's dark-blonde hair was pulled back in a ponytail. She was dressed in washed-out jeans and a well-fitting white T-shirt and jean jacket. She looked vaguely familiar, but Andy couldn't place her.

Sure is a pretty little girl she has, Andy thought to herself, noticing the little girl at her side. Look at that curly brown hair! She wondered in what way her life would have been different if she had given birth to twin girls instead of twin boys.

Andy picked up the check, still turned toward the cash register, and asked Jess—who was grabbing up her purse—"Does that woman up there look familiar to you?"

The woman was just going out the door, and the last Andy saw of her was a hand holding on to the little girl following along behind her. She had never turned around so she could see the woman's face.

"What woman? Up where?" Jess asked, looking around.

"Never mind," Andy said. "I just thought I recognized someone. She's gone now."

* * * * * *

"We need to stop at Home Depot to pick up some stuff to clean the tar off the kitchen floor before we go home," Jordan told Megan. "That's another thing we need to do this afternoon—mop the kitchen floor."

"Can't we just go home first, and then you can go back and get it? I'm tired—" Megan said, dragging out her last word.

"I bet you stayed up almost all night at Suzanne's, didn't you? No, we have to go there first, because it's on the way home. I'm not going to make another trip over to this side of town, and the only other Home Depot is way up north. That's too far."

* * * * * *

"Do you want to wait in the car?" Andy asked her friend. "I'll only be a few minutes."

"Yeah, I'm so full I could bust!" Jess responded. "I don't want to walk around in Home Depot when I'm this full. I'm just going to lay my head back in the seat and relax."

Andy thought Jess needed to get full more often and put some weight on her bones. "I'll be right back," she said.

She went right to the aisle where the plumbing section was located. She and Ken stopped here often, as there was always something that needed repair in their twenty-five-year-old home. So she knew where practically everything was. She picked up what she thought Ken needed, thinking that if it wasn't exactly the right size, he could come back and exchange it himself . She was angry with him, but more upset at herself that she wasn't stronger in her demands that he do things for himself. Saying something to him was like pouring water over a duck's back—it just ran off without making an impact.

* * * * * *

Jordan made her way to a check-out line at Home Depot . There was one customer ahead of her with multiple purchases. She looked around and saw Megan wasn't by her side. She had wandered down the row of check-out lines almost to the other end of the store, looking at the displays on the ends of the check-out counters. Jordan called to her, and she ran back.

"Look, Aunt Jordan, there's one of the ladies that was at the yoga studio who were coming down the stairs when we left," Megan said, pointing to three check-out counters away. “Remember I told you I want to be just like her when I start taking yoga?"

Jordan looked and then did a double-take. She glanced at the woman's arm holding on to what appeared to be a piece of pipe. She noticed the silver OHM bracelet on her wrist. Recognition arose in her.

That's her! That's the woman I saw at the mall during the superstorm. She's here! What do I do now? Go over and introduce myself? She wouldn't remember me.

She watched helplessly as the woman with the short, dark-brown hair and dark-brown eyes paid for her purchase and then picked up her package and hurriedly walked out the exit door.

Jordan wanted to follow her, but she hadn't paid for the tar remover yet. She couldn't very well leave it on the counter and go charging out the door yelling at a woman she had seen at the mall a few months ago. People would think she was crazy! She kicked herself because she'd had to hunt all over in the store for the tar remover. If she had known the right aisle to begin with, she could have been at the check-out counter the same time as that woman.

The clerk rang up her purchase after the customer in front of her was finished. Jordan pulled her wallet out and frantically groped for the right change and then grabbed up her package. She told Megan to hurry up and almost ran out the exit door. She looked around and saw a car pull out onto the main road and caught a glimpse of the back of a woman's head behind the steering wheel. She had short, dark-brown hair.

I just missed her, she thought sadly.

* * * * * *

Andy looked in her rear-view mirror as she pulled onto the main street and noticed that a tall, well-built woman was standing outside Home Depot 's exit. A little girl was by her side. That's the woman who was at Gunther Toody's , Andy thought. She was too far away to see her face, but the woman seemed to be looking straight at her.

How odd, she thought. I feel like I've seen that woman somewhere before.

She dismissed the thought and decided she better get Jess home before Bob got angry, too. Heaven knows, Ken was mad enough for all of them. She drove away disconcertedly, twisting around to look back over her shoulder. The woman had turned around and was slowly walking away with the little girl skipping along behind her.

"Did you get what you went after, Andy Lee?" Jess asked, yawning as she woke up from a brief nap.

"Yes, I hope so," Andy said. "Jess, did you see that woman back there?"

"Back where?" Jess said. She was still droopy-eyed as she turned to look behind her.

"Never mind. Go back to sleep. It's not that important."

But Andy knew that it was important. The woman had looked so familiar.



Andy climbed the back steps of the yoga studio the following Saturday morning. She was sad that Jessica wasn't coming back this week. Jess told her she was just too stiff and sore. Andy tried to talk her into it, saying that she needed to come two or three more times and then it wouldn't bother her so much anymore. And it would be good for her. But Jess didn't want to and couldn't be persuaded.

It was five minutes before class time when Andy walked in the open door to the studio, unrolled her mat, and pulled a pillow out of the covered wooden box at the end of the room. She sat down against the wall and waited for her teacher.

Anna-Marie walked in right on time from her office, her carriage held high and regal.

This woman would have made a good queen, Andy contemplated.

"Where is your friend today, Andrea?" she asked Andy.

"She isn't coming anymore."

"That's too bad. You couldn't convince her?" Anna-Marie asked.

As if I could do anything about it, Andy thought. "No. She just didn't want to come anymore. She wouldn't change her mind."

"Her loss, I guess," Anna-Marie said. She quickly dismissed the conversation about Jessica by changing the subject. "Andrea, did you see the flyers on the bulletin board out in the hallway?"

"What flyers?"

"The ones about the chakra workshop. I'll get one for you." She hurried out of the room, which was very uncharacteristic of her.

Andy then remembered what she had seen as she and Jess left the building last Saturday. She thought it was a flyer.

That's strange, she thought. Anna-Marie usually would have told me to pick one up on my way out after class. I guess she really wants me to sign up.

Her yoga teacher came back with the flyer and handed it to her. "This is the workshop I was telling you about—taught by that extraordinary woman. I hope you'll go. You'd benefit greatly from it."

Andy quickly read the flyer and noted the price: $225 for seven week—one night a week for three hours each night. She said, "Whew!" under her breath and wondered how she could swing it. Ken would be upset with her for spending the much money. But he wouldn't have to know, would he? She could put it on her own credit card.

She instantly knew there was more than the money at stake here. She realized she had to take hold of her future, and here was a golden opportunity to strike out on her own. At that moment, she made up her mind.

I'm just going to do it. I need this class. I need to do something to help myself. I can't keep on being afraid of women. I can't live the rest of my life like this.

She looked at the information at the bottom of the flyer on how to register and noted that MasterCard was accepted. The copy machine had carelessly deposited a smudge of black ink on the instructor's name: "Jo—". But the phone number was there. She'd call when she got home this afternoon. The class was going to start in less than two weeks, and ten was the maximum number of students allowed. She hoped she wasn't too late, but at the same time she hoped the class was already full. Anticipation was overshadowed by fearfulness.

* * * * * *

It started snowing again as Andy walked to her car after class. The last snowfall came only a week ago. Colorado and Wyoming, among other northern states, had been subjected to frequent, heavy, and erratic snowfalls since the superstorm, so Andy kept her winter coat in the car most of the time now, never knowing when she might need it. She slipped it on before she headed for the Citadel Mall.

She bought her lunch at Subway . Last week it was Gunther Toody's . She was going back to her habit of eating at the mall now because Jess wasn't with her. Even though she walked at the mall in the morning before yoga class, the Citadel Mall had been her favorite haunt for lunch on Saturday since last December.

As she slowly consumed her sandwich, not anxious to get home, she thought about the workshop. Anna-Marie had told her she needed to attend a workshop because she was up in 'la-la land' too much—meaning she was focusing on her higher chakras to the detriment of her lower chakras—and she needed to be balanced so her energy would flow more freely. She was anxious to find out the differences between the higher and lower chakras. This would be a good workshop, she decided. It would have to be for the money it was costing!

She drove home slowly and pulled in the garage. Two inches of snow had fallen, and it was tapering off now. Ken's truck was gone. Even though he had breakfast with his buddies on Saturday morning, he still went to coffee in the afternoon. She sat in her car a few minutes, listening to a CD of one of her favorite songs by Anne Murray: You Don't Know Me.

She walked through the kitchen, down the hall to her study and dialed the number on the flyer. Click! "Hi. This is Jordan. I can't answer the phone right now, but leave a message, and I'll get back to you as soon as possible." Beep!

Andy left her name and cell phone number and said she was interested in the chakra workshop. Could Jordan call her back?

Jordan, Andy thought. There's only one person I know named Jordan. That was Jordan MacKenzie, the paramedic at the mall. But this can't be her. She was with the fire department. This must be another Jordan.

After she changed out of her yoga clothes and sat down at her desk, she wondered where to begin to clear it off. There were newspaper articles and other papers scattered around pertaining to global warming. In addition, there was mail that had built up over the last few days and tossed here and there randomly with the thought of getting to it the next day—or the next day—or the next. She hated being a procrastinator, but her thoughts ran elsewhere these days. Specifically, on yoga.

The phone rang a few minutes later. Andy picked it up.

"Hi. This is Jordan. You called about the workshop?" The voice was low and warm, and so womanly , Andy decided. Not shrill and high like a lot of women's voices.

"Yes, I was interested in signing up for the workshop, but I noticed there's only room for ten people. You probably have it filled up by now."

"No, as a matter-of-fact, there's still room, if you want to attend."

Andy's spirits soared. "Yes, I really would like to."

"Can I call you back in a little bit? I'm on my way home from a conference in Denver. I'm on my cell phone. I have all the information at home, and I can give you the details then."

"Sure. That's fine."

They both hung up.

* * * * * *

At eight o'clock in the evening, dinner was over and Ken was ensconced in his favorite chair in the living room watching television. Andy was engrossed in writing out checks for the first-of-the-month bills. She took care of all the finances for the house, as Ken was willing for her to do that. He was willing for her to do everything, it seemed.

The cell phone on her desk rang, startling her. It was Jordan calling again to give her the information she needed: Bring a blanket, water bottle, and writing paper and pen. Nothing else was required.

"We're going to be starting a week later than the flyer says, though. Is that all right?" Jordan inquired. "We'll still go the full seven Wednesday nights."

"Sure, that's okay. And you do take MasterCard, don't you?"

"Yes. They'll handle that at the yoga studio when you get there. I can take your card number right now, and they'll get it entered. Then you can pick up the receipt when you come for the first session—if that's all right."

Andy agreed. She knew if she paid for it now, it was certain she would be one of the ten students. She could hardly wait for it to start.

After she hung up, she took a sip of her Diet Pepsi and grimaced. She hated warm soft drinks.

As she came out of her study to put more ice in her drink, Ken asked from his living room chair, "Who were you talking to?"

"I just registered for a workshop," Andy said, stopping in mid-stride, turning to look at him.

"What kind of workshop?"

"A chakra workshop."

"What's a chakra workshop?"

"It's about the chakras. I need to learn more about the chakras so I'll be better equipped when I start training to be a yoga teacher." She continued on to the kitchen and added the ice cubes to her drink, suddenly tired of Ken's probing questions.

Ken was silent. Another of her hair-brained ideas, he thought. Why does she have to do all these things? Why does she want to be a yoga teacher? What the hell is a chakra?

Andy quickly walked back to her study. Ken didn't ask how much it was going to cost, she thought. Thank God! He would have blown his stack. But he never looks at my credit card statement. After I caught him opening my mail one time, I jumped all over him. He never opened my mail again.

Smiling with the prospect of learning more about the chakras, she took a sip of her iced drink and turned her attention back to the checkbook and the bills that needed to be paid.

To be continued...

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