"Everybody has a secret world inside of them. All of the people of the world, I mean everybody. No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside, inside them they've all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds. Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands maybe" ~ Neil Gaiman (A Game of You)



Vivian lit the trio of lavender tea candles, put a CD of nature sounds in the player, and adjusted the volume to a gentle trickle filling the room.  She turned to her client, naked under a slightly warmed flannel sheet in the middle of the room.  It had been cold last night; she didn't want her catching a chill.

She moved to the top of the table and folded the sheet down to expose Monica's bare back.  She reached for the bottle of ylang ylang massage lotion and squeezed a liberal amount into her palm.  She brusquely rubbed her hands together and smoothed them around Monica's shoulders.

Vivian closed her eyes and sighed, letting her hands move instinctively, searching out the tight knots embedded along the neck.  Monica had such a lovely energy about her.  It was because she was a mother.  There was something about mothers -- they were always so giving, sending so much positive energy out into the world.  Not every mother, she knew, but Monica was one of the good ones.

Vivian found a particularly stubborn knot and paused to give it a little extra attention.  She pressed her thumb into the heart of it, rotated, wiggled it just a little.  She felt it release.  Monica sighed, and Vivian felt her body release a little, too.  Ah, this was going to be a good session, she could tell.

Vivian worked her fingers up through the base of the neck, up to the cranium.  She felt a tightening under her fingers right behind the jawline.  Monica must have been fighting with her husband recently.  Vivian massaged the area with her index finger, felt it leading down the side of her neck, so she followed.  She followed the tightness across her shoulder, around the curve of the shoulder blade, pausing to jiggle it a little, feeling the release.  It ended just under her arm.  Smooth, the whole path was smooth now.  Monica wouldn't be having any more of those tension headaches for awhile.

Vivian added a little more pressure as she moved down her back, pushing then pulling the muscles into submission.  She moved to the side and worked along the spine.  She heard a little pop, and then another, as the vertebrae slid back into place.  Vivian took pride in knowing most of her clients didn't need a chiropractor.  During a session with her, everything just kind of melted into balance.

She lightened her touch as she reached the spot in the middle of Monica's back.  This was a touchy area, she knew.  She'd once asked if Monica had ever had a traumatic injury, ever been in a car accident or injured herself playing sports.  No, Monica didn't remember any such thing.  Vivian knew then; it was something deeper, more traumatic, not talked about.  Something when she was very young.  Vivian always approached it with great care, and she noticed it was healing a little bit more each time she worked on her.  If Monica did choose to ever bring the trauma to the surface again, she'd be surprised at how much better it is now.  It was one of the gifts Vivian gave her clients without them knowing.

Vivian paused and squeezed more lotion into her hand.  She took Monica's arm in her hands, smoothed over the large muscles, worked her way to wrists and pressed into the fleshy palm of Monica's hand.  She noticed the callous marks from finger nails of clenched fists.  Tension here, too.  She stretched each finger, rotated the hand until it eased softly back onto the sheet.

Vivian pulled the sheet up over Monica's back, moved to the bottom of the table and folded the sheet away from Monica's legs.  She repeated the motions along the large muscles, and then pulled up her stool to sit while she worked on Monica's feet.  The feet told everything.  Monica needed a gentle touch today, and Vivian gently prodded the heel, rolled her knuckles into the arch, walked her thumbs across the toes.

She replaced the sheet, moved to the top of the table, and gently brushed her hands down Monica's covered body, corralling the negative energy and moving it down the planes and banishing out of her body.  She looked at the clock.  The hour was up.  She spoke softly, telling Monica to take her time getting up.  She walked to a back bathroom and waited until she heard Monica stirring, waited longer until it was quiet again.

Monica's face shone when Vivian came back into the room.

"You are amazing," Monica said.  She rolled her neck back and forth.  "I feel so good.  And it's never the same massage twice.  You're very intuitive."

Vivian smiled, hoping Monica didn't notice the hint of sadness behind it.

"Thank you.  Yes, you're right, I am.  But it's a blessing and a curse.  See, people can't lie to me."

Monica looked puzzled.

"That's why I don't date much," Vivian said lightly, and Monica laughed as if it were a joke.

"So, I'll see you next week?"  Vivian asked.

"No, sorry, I can only come every other week right now.  Make it the following."

"All right, I'll pencil you in."

Vivian led Monica to the door, watched her get into her car, and waved as she pulled out of the carport.  She walked back inside and found the calendar on her desk.  She looked at all the blank white squares and wrote down "Monica, 10 am" under the 24th.


This week's prompt:   What is your Character's Very Mild SuperPowers?


Cathryn Grant said...

This story made me long for a massage. And what an amazing woman you created in this masseuse.

You did a great job weaving in the mild superpower ... it seemed to me as if every masseuse possesses that power.

Nikki~Down syndrome Storyteller said...

This made me FEEL. Very, very, good. I'd love to know more about Vivian.

Amalia T. said...

Really interesting take on the mild superpower! I loved how organically the massage worked into the story and revealed things about both characters.

also, on an unrelated note, I LOVE your giraffe background!

Anonymous said...

I'm more relaxed for just having read this story. Wow....writing must be your superpower Shelli!!

Great job as always. So beautifully written.

Anonymous said...

What a great interpretation on the prompt. Such a gentle and sombre story.
Adam B @revhappiness

Renee said...

I am amazed at your ability to create such vivid scenarios...I swear I relaxed just reading about the massage...I used to look forward to them every other week until neuropathy made it too painful. I agree, they have a special gift....
Loved this!

Shelli said...

Cathryn -- Thanks! The story is based on my own, very real masseuse, Vivian. I thought about changing her name, but I liked the root "viv-", life.

Nikki -- Thanks! I could give you her phone number, if you'd ever like a massage. :)

Amalia -- Thank you, and welcome. I'm glad you found me! And, thanks, the giraffe just makes me smile whenever I come here.

Carrie -- Aw, thanks, and your superpower is always knowing the right thing to say to make people feel good. :)

Adam -- Thanks so much!

Renee -- Thank you, and I'm so glad I was able to give you a "virtual" massage, now that you can't enjoy the real ones for now. Hope the neuropathy improves so you can get back to it.

Anonymous said...

I'm with everybody else here on the awesome massage I felt like I had. I love your MC. Your writing is soothing and beautiful.-Tiffany

Laura Rachel Fox said...

You've created a calming tone here. The description of the massage was so vivid and detailed that it has me craving one myself. I also liked how you were able to pull in the characterization of Vivian, showing us that there is much more to her then you have revealed here.

Shelli said...

Tiffany -- Thank you, and welcome to my blog! I appreciate your comments.

Laura -- Thank you, and I think everyone should indulge in massages regularly. They are so fabulous!

John Pender said...

Now I want a massage!

Icy Sedgwick said...

Your tone really suited the flow and pace of the story, but I found the ending a little bit sad. Poor Vivian.

Shelli said...

John - You deserve it!

Icy - Thank you, and I'm pleased that you picked up on that dichotomy. I do think her gift is a double-edged sword.

Tribute Books Mama said...

Thanks! for sharing this.