The smell of freshly-brewed coffee reached Lucas’ nose as he walked through the brightly-lit kitchen. His father stood at the coffee machine, pouring himself a mug of the hot beverage.
“Coffee?” Damien offered his son as he walked by.
Lucas politely declined. “Nah, I’m meeting up with Mel for brunch,” he explained, “and then we’re supposed to be going to this spa place… For like, yoga or something…” He laughed to himself.
Damien raised an eyebrow. “Yoga? Seriously?” He couldn’t help but laugh as well.
His son just shrugged. “She’s really into it. I figured I’d give it a shot.”
“She’s a really nice girl, you know.” Damien said seriously. “Smart, hardworking… I think she’s a keeper, son.” He smiled.
Lucas laughed, shaking his head. “You’re right, she is pretty great… But we’re just friends, dad. Since when do you have to be dating someone to hang out with them?” He did his best to ignore the nagging voice in the back of his mind that said otherwise.
“Of course, of course… Silly me.” His father replied sarcastically. “Well say hi to your friend for me,” he gave an over-exaggerated wink, “and tell her she owes me a rematch.”
Lucas smiled to himself. Melanie had bested his father at chess the last time she came to visit, and he was itching for revenge. “I will, dad.” He laughed. “See ya.”
“So are you sure you’re ready for this?” Melanie teased. “It’s not too late to back out, you know.”
Lucas smirked. “Are you kidding? It just a bunch of silly stretches. How hard can it be?”
He soon learned that those ‘silly stretches’ were much more difficult than he’d realized.
He marveled as he watched Melanie perform each pose with such ease and grace. So focused and peaceful and beautiful – she was truly a sight to behold… To the point where it was almost distracting.
Lucas shook his head and turned away, trying to focus. I’ll just try one of the easy looking ones… He thought for a moment, struggling to remember what the instructor had shown them. What was that dog one again? He bent down rather ungracefully, touching his hands to the mat below him.
“You’re not supposed to bend your legs.” Melanie whispered teasingly from beside him as she held herself on one hand with apparent ease.
“Shut up.” Lucas whispered back through his teeth, though he could not help but smile.
The rest of the lesson did not go much better.
“So what did you think?” Melanie asked afterward. “Not as easy as you thought, huh?”
“Hey, wait a minute! Didn’t you see me do that corpse pose thing?” Lucas replied, smiling. “Totally nailed it.”
Melanie burst into a fit of hysterics, “Lucas, you crack me up.” She managed to get out through her giggles.
Lucas found himself doubled-over, unable to contain his own laughter as well.
With their lesson complete, Melanie then led him to a dimly lit room with a quietly flowing waterfall on the wall and tiny cushioned stools in rows along the wooden floor.
“Okay.” She said, smiling. “Now that we’ve relaxed our bodies, the next thing we do is relax our minds.”
“Um, alright… How?”
The woman simply laughed. “Come on, sit down.”
Lucas did as he was told.
“Alright, now you just take deep breaths, close your eyes, and clear your mind.”
“Uh… okay.” Lucas closed his eyes and took several deep breaths, then waited.
He certainly didn’t feel any more relaxed. Quite the contrary, actually. His mind was racing even more than it was before – Lucas started worrying about how silly he probably looked, sitting there. He felt distracted by the delicate sound of Melanie’s breathing and the steady stream of the waterfall behind him. Then the sound of the water reminded him that he’d forgotten to water his garden in more than a week. And then that thought reminded him that the new fishing guide he’d checked out of the library last month was already overdue. And then he realized in a panic that it had been months since he’d made any real progress on Evelyn’s cure. And then he thought of Evelyn, back at home alone while he sat here with a beautiful woman at his side. And then the guilt came…
He opened his eyes. “I don’t think I’m doing this right…” He mumbled.
“Hmmm?” Melanie muttered, not opening her eyes.
“Can we try something else?” Lucas asked.
“Oh, sure!” Melanie’s eyes fluttered open. She studied his face for a moment. “Are you okay?” She asked seriously.
“Yeah… I guess ‘clearing my mind’ just didn’t really work for me.”
“Don’t worry about it.” She got to her feet. “Come on, I have one more thing in mind… I think you’ll like this one.”
Ahh… Perfect. Lucas smiled and closed his eyes as the hot steam of the sauna washed over his body.
“Nice, isn’t it?” She paused. “Didn’t I promise you today would be relaxing?” Melanie smirked beside him.
“You did.” Lucas agreed. He snuck a sideways glance at her, his smile widening. “But I always feel relaxed with you.”