Excerpt from Yoga Train, by Lara Falberg. Copyright 2016 by Lara Falberg. This content may not be published elsewhere without express permission from the author.
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I sit down, working my legs into lotus to practice my breathing, which feels really difficult right now. All I want to do is tear my hair out of its ponytail, but agitatedly resist. Someone puts their knees in my back, and hands on either side of my head. It feels really good. These hands work their way to my ears, gently tugging on my lobes. Why hasn’t it ever occurred to me to do that? Now I’m really glad my hair is still back. The hands feel distinctly feminine. Placing my hands on top of these hands, I turn my head to see who’s giving me such love. It’s Teak, to my pleasant surprise. I’ve felt so shy to approach, but from the day I laid eyes on her exquisite motherly face, I’ve had to resist the urge to go curl up in her lap. Teak is about 5’10”, strong, muscular, and just so womanly.
Being built slight and unsexy is something I’ve finally accepted, for the most part. When I see curves that knock me out, changing my breath pattern from twenty feet away, I get why men dig assesand boobs. I know I’m straight, but also that I prefer to be around women. For the right woman, I believe I could fall in love. Teak, with her gap in between her two front teeth, always wears red lipstick and wild hair, full and gloriously huge. The blouses she favors are bold and beautiful. I did manage to compliment the top she had on the first weekend. She explained a friend, who lives in Bali, hand-makes them. I found myself wanting to make something for her too. But the only things I can make are bad puns and good sandwiches.
“Hey there, lil’ girl. What’s shakin’?” Smiling is all I come up with, unable to think of anything clever to say. Instead, I bashfully tell her, “Thanks for the ear massage. If you do that for your students, they’ll follow you everywhere.” She laughs, throwing her whole body into the process.
“Well, yeah, bribery works. That sounds about right,” she confirms, pursing her lips together in agreement with herself.
“Do your kids live in Cbus?” I ask. I hope she says no, because then maybe she’ll kind of adopt me. I wonder what she’d think of my father.
“Oh yeah, I try to shake those fuckers, but they’re attached like leeches. I keep threatening to move and not leave an address. They’re obsessed with me, and they’d find me,” Teak says, shaking her head with resignation.
“Wow,” I say. “That’s so damn cool that your kids like you so much. How old are they? Boys or girls?” Teak settles down next to me on my mat.
“I have three sons, Aiden, Beck, and Mick. My husband had an African father and an Irish mom. So he liked those Irish names.” Teak squeezes her sinuses. She has really long fingernail beds. She keeps the nails short, but they still look very pretty and feminine.
“How old are they?” I ask, shifting my seat to stretch out my legs, bringing much-needed circulation back into my feet.
“Oh, let me think for a sec,” she replies, looking up to the right. I heard somewhere that if you look to the right, you’re remembering. But, if you look to the left, you’re either creating or lying. “Aiden is twenty-seven, Beck just turned twenty-five in May, and Mick is twenty-four. People call kids who are only about a year or so apart ‘Irish twins.’ Did you know that?”
“I didn’t, but thanks for the schooling. Um, would you like to be my partner for the niyama assignment?”
“Hell yes, I’d like that! We’ll have fun with this. If you want to meet those crazy boys of mine, we can have you over for dinner this coming week and work on the assignment. What area of town are you in? No, don’t tell me,” she says, holding my arm, her face concentrating. “I bet you live in Grandview or the Short North, right?”
“I live in the Short North, but I want to move to German Village. I’m here every day to take class anyway,” I tell her. “It’s so dog-friendly, and mine loves going to Schiller Park.”
Teak nods her head. “We live in German Village, walking distance from the studio.”
“I’d just love to come to dinner, Teak,” I say, catching myself being a little too eager. “I’ll bring wine and a dessert.”
“You can bring wine and your puppy too if you want, but dessert is my thing. I don’t want you to feel bad when no one even looks at your sad little cookies.”
“Does Monday work?”
Teak opens her phone to check her calendar. “I do believe that night is free. I gotta check, always. I’ve double-booked many a time. I tend to stay pretty social, especially since Sean, my husband, passed.” I never know what to say to death, so I don’t say anything, which is probably the worst thing you can say.
“Well, I’m sure you’re never lacking for people dying to hang out with you. Monday it is. Can’t wait.”
I can’t believe I said “dying.” She catches my gaff, seeing I’m about to throw up. “You’re right, people are dying for a piece of me. But, luckily there’s enough to go around.” Teak grabs at her hips, unleashing a hiccupping laugh.
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