“You know what a master is like,” she cautioned me.
“He’s as likely to whack you as to talk to you.”
I climbed the last steps to the master’s hermitage resolved not to submit to any slap-in-the-face treatment.
I found him with his feet in a tub of hot water. Steam rose and the air was pleasantly scented with mountain herbs as one of his handmaidens palpated his feet. I was curious to see whether she would dry them with her lustrous black hair, that fell to the floor.
“Move the chest,” he directed me.
I contemplated the great iron-banded box without enthusiasm.
He indicated the far corner.
I half-lifted, half-carried the heavy trunk to the place he indicated, wondering what he kept in it.
“Now bring it back. And don’t drag it. Pick it up.”
I felt the veins bulge on my forehead as I struggled to carry out these instructions. I nearly made it back. Then the trunk slid from my grip, landing painfully on my left foot.
The master waited until I had stopped howling before he spoke again. “Why do you come to me?”
“Master, I come to you because I wish to see.”
“Then why are your pig eyes open?”
I realized, at that moment, that the master’s eyes were closed. I understood that I was to close my own.
“Closer,” he commanded.
I felt the stir of movement. I heard the swish of the loose silk of his garment, and pictured his arm swinging back, fist clenched. Here it comes.
I intended to duck the blow, but something kept me in place, on my knees in front of him. What was that buzzing sound? It made me think of a bee, trapped behind glass. It came closer.
I felt burning pain as something pierced me at the third eye, like a drill bit. Immediately the girl was at my side, soothing my forehead with an ointment that smelled like yoghurt.
When she left off, there was absolute stillness in the cabin. Then I heard the soft slap of water from the footbath.
I opened my eyes. There was no change in the scene. The black-haired girl squatted at the master’s feet, as before. I felt no surge of enlightenment. I did notice that one of the master’s eyes was now open. Above and between his closed eyelids, it fixed me with its blue light, cold and unwinking.
I wrote this little story during a 15-minute timed exercise while leading an adventure in "Writing as a State of Conscious Dreaming". It appears here unedited. The starter dough was a card I drew in a literary version of my Coincidence Card Game that included the words "third eye."I am leading "Writing as a State of Conscious Dreaming" again this year at magical Mosswood Hollow, near Seattle, from May21-25 and in a green paradise near Česká Skalice in the Czech Republic from September 12-16.
Image: "Watching" by Zen-Master on DeviantArt.