Thank you, Jhumpa Lahiri, for inspiring me to write short stories. I had the great pleasure of hearing Ms. Lahiri speak two times during my time in Rome. In particular, her book Interpreter of Maladies showed me the power and beauty of the short story. I have been working on a few ideas for my own short stories that I am planning to publish on my blog in the near future. For now, here is an excerpt from the first AND ROUGH draft of a short story that I am currently working on titled In Unison. Also, click the following link to hear Ms. Lahiri read one of her exquisite short stories that takes place in Italy. Enjoy!
Pierre practiced yoga every Sunday evening at a studio located on the first floor of his apartment building. Before she died, Pierre’s wife use to accompany him to class each week, arriving ten minutes early to meditate in silence. In child’s pose, she would lay on the mat next to him, taking deep inhales and cleansing exhales until she was asleep. Sometimes her own snoring would wake her. Other times Pierre would place his hand on the center of her back, feeling the air rush along her spine. He would pause here, taking a moment to acknowledge the life inside her. In a way her death was not a surprise. She had always pointed out songs, while driving or cooking, to play at her funeral. She made it known that burial was not an option. She wanted to be cremated, her ashes scattered into the plot of a tree. And Pierre prepared as well, always being the first to apologize after a fight; he never left the house without kissing her goodbye. It became an anxiety. He anticipated tragedy like a package delivery, reminding himself each day that death could happen today.
Feeling the oxygen move within her soothed Pierre’s worry. It was the one moment he was convinced that nothing bad could ever happen. That is was here, on their mats, where they belonged. When the yoga instructor walked into the room, Pierre would pat his wife’s back rhythmically to say that class had begun. Every class ended the same: legs crossed, heads bowed, and battery powered candles illuminating the center of the room. And the instructor saying, “The light and love in my heart honors and bows to the light and love in each one of you. Have a wonderful night. Namaste.” In unison, the class would bow their heads lower and repeat the word namaste. Pierre regretted every class that he never repositioned his body to face her, touching her fingertips, and promising, “The light and love in my heart honors and bows to the beautiful light and love in you, Georgia.” Although they were not his words, he could not think of a more accurate way to articulate his love.