“Alright boss,” Melody said, as Anna quietly shuffled behind.
As they strode down the path, street lamps lit up as they neared, and darkened as they passed, seemingly knowing their journey before they did. Soon, a high-pitched whine lofted.
Anna cowered close to Beatrice. “What’s that?”
Beatrice lifted her ear to the sound. “Sounds like crystal bowls.”
“Who is Crystal Ball?” Anna asked.
“She’s one of Alexei’s personalities,” Melody snipped.
“No,” Beatrice stated stronger than she intended, “crystal bowls, people play them.”
“As music?” Melody questioned with a laugh. “Sounds like nails on a chalkboard. Ella Fitzgerald is music. This is noise.”
Beatrice shook them both off, more determined to find the noise. She walked off in the direction of the sound until she came to a sign, which read: Sound Bath ahead. She picked up her step. “Let’s check it out.”
Ahead, standing at a booth George greeted them, wearing another sweater. “Ladies,” he said with a smile. “I didn’t know you had a reservation for tonight’s sound bath.”
Beatrice offered an innocent shrug. “We didn’t know. It’s kind of a spur of the moment thing.”
“I don’t do nudity in public baths, only in private in front of my husband,” Anna said.
George cocked his head and grinned at Anna. “My dear, nudity is not required at a sound bath. It is only optional.” He clapped his hands together. “Alright. I believe I have a space in front of the gongs. Wait there. Let me see if I can find you a place,” he said and walked off.
“I don’t want to take a sound bath,” Melody said, “I’d rather take a hot bubble bath. Look at me, I’m still covered in this soot shit.”
“You’re the one who wanted to explore. This is exploring,” Beatrice stated firmly.
“Somehow, I don’t think we’ll find the shuttle by the gongs, and I’m not really interested unless we’re talking John the pilot’s gong,” Melody responded.
George returned with his usual slick grin. “It seems we have some space for you. Please come this way.”
“You know, we’d really like if you can show us to our shuttle,” Melody said, as she side-stepped bodies lying on mats, listening to the sound of bells and chimes. Her comment went on George’s deaf ears as he continued along, around the maze of people.
“You’re going to love this,” Beatrice said as she stepped over a woman’s head. “The frequency of the instruments is said to change you at a cellular level.”
“Shush,” the woman, lying on the ground scolded.
“But I don’t want to change,” Anna whined. “How would my husband and boys recognize me?”
Beatrice rolled her eyes. “You’re not going to transform into a different person. It helps heal diseases, anxieties, makes you more mindful and focused,” she said as she tripped over a man.
“Ouch! Watch it!” the man yelled.
Melody laughed. “Right. It makes me wonder why someone so seemingly perfect as you would want to change. All I can say is I am perfect as I am. I don’t need to change.”
Beatrice spun around. “No one is perfect. We all have room to improve,” she said, backing into another man’s body and falling with the sound of the gong.
“Ladies, I’m going to have to ask you lower your voices, and raise your vibrations,” George said in a pleasant manner. He reached a place in the back where three mats rested side by side. “You can take your place here. Enjoy the bath. Luxuriate in it.”
“George, how do I raise my vibration?” Anna asked.
Melody pulled her down to a mat next to her. “Honey, never ask a man that.”
“Rest. Relax, and by all means, please try to behave,” George said with a tender, fatherly voice.
Beatrice had herself already sprawled out on the mat. Before closing her eyes, she stared up at the sky, the starry universe bright and vivid. With the sound of jingling bells, she shut her eyes and let the sound take her away, yet it didn’t. She struggled letting go, more concerned about Melody and Anna, what they were thinking and feeling. She took several deep breaths, to release any anxiety she was holding onto, until finally she relaxed.
Lying alongside Beatrice, Melody tensed her fists, as she rested rigidly. Despite the afternoon nap in the park with Brian, she refused to give into this crazy Godorah world. It wasn’t going to defeat her, and she wasn’t going to become victim to it, yet the thunder of drums rumbled through her belly in such an intense way she couldn’t help but giggle; it tickled her inner little girl, and she recalled times as a youngster playing hopscotch chalked on her mother’s driveway, and she was a good hopper. She never hit any of the lines. Her memory took a sour turn, when a car drove passed. The older kids inside laughed at her, called her ugly, and other such mean names. It not only broke her pride; it broke her spirit. Young Melody never hopscotched again.
Tears surfaced. She had the mind to give Beatrice a talking to after this event, but all thoughts faded when the sensations in her belly filled further. She was taken away, to a place where she felt empowered. Her fists relaxed, and her body softened. She extended her hand slightly, feeling Anna’s wrist beside her.
The whine of the singing bowls rang in Anna’s temples to the point of pain. Tensing and contorting on the muscles in her face, she swore she was on the verge of a migraine. Fears and anxiety rose as she truly believed she would exit a different person. Would her husband still love her? Would her boys recognize her? She resisted until it was too much to think about. The sound took over her mind, and it felt as if a hole was being bored through the crown of her head. This was to be an existential lobotomy, and she was helpless to do anything about it.
Noticing Melody’s hand next to hers, she dared to grasp it, and hold on tightly. To her surprise, Melody reciprocated in kind, and reached out for Beatrice’s on the other side. Having Melody’s hand in hers, gave Beatrice the opportunity she needed to fully let go. She couldn’t believe that she needed the acceptance others, before she could accept herself.
They held onto each other’s hands until the sound subsided to silence, and they heard the rustle of bodies moving. Sitting upright, each stared at the other without a word, and then all three broke out in laughter.