“A love that’s true will definitely break through.”
Teacher cups his hands at his chest, making the sign for a heart. Of course, in his hands, the heart becomes more than two hands. It takes on a life of its own, lifting out of this hands and across the room until it is one throbbing, red heart.
“That was the threory of this experiment — what if separated loves fought past the veil to bring heaven to Earth and Earth to heaven.”
That’s all he says for the moment. He flies away, leaving us with another homework assignment.
There’s a tree on the campus of this school that amazes me. It’s a lone palm tree, tall and proud, that grew from a seed embedded in the roots of a Royal Poinciana tree. Both trees are at least fifty years old and both are thriving.
I’ve been thinking a lot about those trees lately and how much they mirror my life.
Over the years, as storms struck the school, those trees stood together. The palm tree seemingly protected in the embrace of the Royal Poinciana with its glorious red flowers. I wonder, though, did the palm tree provide something for the tree my Cuban-American family knows best as the Flamboyant tree?
I’m thinking about this as I think of my spiritual growth.
As I grow, proud and strong in my newfound knowledge, I feel protected in the powerful embrace of my angels and guides, especially the guide I know as My Beloved. But what do I provide for them? What is it about my growth, our growth, actually, that keeps our guides around, helping us and guiding us? Wouldn’t it be easier to just leave us be. To let the principal of Survival of the Fittest weed out the weaker souls?
That’s not how our guides work. That’s not how Heaven works.
Just like these trees that shared their growth using the same food and water, using the same air, to strengthen as a result of their collaboration, is this idea the same with us? With this in mind, I wonder if, when we start working hand-in-hand with our Guides in Spirit, our own growth will be as strong and solid as these two trees. What I do know is that our guides are strengthened by our own personal growth. They celebrate our accomplishments from their plane of existence.
There is something that always bothered me about my Catholic upbringing. We can believe in angels and the Holy Spirit, but we can’t allow ourselves to dream of being in constant communication with those we loved so much when they shared this plane of existence with us. Why does that sound wrong to me?
Just a thought.
I’d ask Teacher for guidance, but I’d rather meditate on this with the help of my own personal guides. They’re more invested in the outcome of my growth. Besides, My Beloved is whispering in my ear right now.
Today, the day my friends and I celebrate the human birth of our beloved Teacher and brother in Spirit, is also the day my Spirit family celebrates the Coming Home anniversary of my Nituna. In honor of both events, I bow my head and say a little prayer of peace and boundless gratitude for the blessings I experience every day!
I tremble as he comes around, my breath barely able to release. I shouldn’t feel this way, damn it. He’s my teacher. He’s my guide to all things Spiritual. When did my feelings for him change?
Teacher consults the classmate to my immediate left, a new student with a multitude of questions. His questions are not mine, but I find myself unable to focus on my classwork. I need to hear Teacher’s voice, need to hear the rolling waves of the richness that sets my heart on fire.
This is not right.
“Why?” A voice interrupts my thoughts.
I snap my head around searching for a face to match the voice. No one is there. No one is actually anywhere around me. Clyde, who usually sits behind me, has scooted his desk next to Hope’s as they work on this assignment I have chosen to do alone.
“Why is what you feel wrong?” The voice repeats and elaborates on the question. It is neither male nor female. It is in my own voice, but I know random voices aren’t always mine.
I shoot out of my seat with a quick, “Bathroom,” and head down the hall, but I don’t go to the bathroom. I walk to the end of the hallway, to the double doors that lead outside, then I stand, paralyzed, wondering what I should do next.
I hear a quick rap on the door that is never locked.
Who could it be? No one ever knocks on this door.
Leaning on the bar that unlocks it, I nudge the door open just a bit. Not too far, but far enough. A squirrel stands in the gap between open and closed, twitching his nose at me.
Why is what you feel wrong? I hear those words again and my heart stops. I twirl to look behind me, but the squirrel and I are alone.
My newfound friend drops to all fours and scurries away three feet then turns as if waiting for me to follow. So I do.
“Where are you taking me, friend?”
Hidden in the chirps of a squirrel, I hear, “You need to understand.”
I follow through the forest at the edge of the school, tiptoeing because the crunching of my feet on the leaves of autumn feels too loud. We walk over the well-worn paths of years of human use, then Squirrel takes me over smaller, more animal-like, paths through the nature of the woods. At first, branches tug at my clothes and my hair. After a while, though, I’ve discovered a way to avoid the trees’ fingers.
Then I hear the voice again.
“Do you want to make a memory?”
“Who’s talking to me?” I scream.
“You know, but you won’t accept it.”
I run around the clearing I’ve just stepped into, searching for the voice. I can’t even find Squirrel anymore. I search behind trees and bushes, in the branches of the trees that wave overhead, behind the rocks of long-ago. Desperate, I start digging through the dirt, looking for speakers or even, by this point, a squirrel with a dictionary.
Finally, I give up and collapse against the trunk of a twisted, ancient Juniper tree.
“You are lost, my dear,” I hear a voice, but it’s not the voice that led me here. It’s a kinder voice. One full of love and understanding. One that fills my heart with the same love I’ve felt only a few times before.
I wipe tears from my face and look up to see a beautifully powerful woman sitting on a nearby moss-covered boulder. Only now do I realize that my search has taken me to the river that separates this school from the real world of stress and pain. Fortunately, we’re still on the right side.
The woman, dressed in a deerskin dress that reaches just above her knees, smiles. Her shiny long, black hair, the rows of fringe over her chest, the fringe over her hips, all flutter as if in a brisk wind, but no wind is blowing past me.
“Hello, my dear,” she says in a voice that flows like the river behind her. It coats my nerves with her peace. “You had a question that I can help you answer.”
I shake my head. I don’t remember any question I had for her. My mind is empty right now.
“I am your guide,” She pauses. “I’m here to help you process this. This is difficult for you, we know.”
If Irreverent were here, he’d have questions. I don’t. I’m just absorbing all of this and freaking out.
My guide watches me. I hide from her gaze, burying my eyes in the blades of grass at my feet. Then, my curiosity finally awakens. “What is your name?”
“My name is Nituna. I am the daughter of the sun.” To make certain I don’t misinterpret the word, she raises her hands over her head toward the midmorning sun that is just becoming visible through the tree tops. “I am one of those designated to guide your Spiritual journey.”
She pauses briefly, studying my reaction as I let this information sink in.
“Your Teacher is another one.”
And then I remember the question from earlier today. The answer no one would claim to own.
I drop to my knees in front of her and let my face fall into her lap as the pain wracks through me in a long line of sobs. Am I in love with my teacher? I didn’t think I was, but there’s something about today that makes me wonder. This is so wrong. How can I continue learning from him? Will the faceless THEY reassign him? Will I lose him because of my silly schoolgirl crush?
As I sob, Nituna caresses my head. Gently, she runs strong fingers through the length of hair that has grown since I first started at this school. It is now almost as dark and long as hers.
Nituna has been with me before. I know her but she’s never spoken to me. Why now?
“Because now is when you really need me.” She positions herself behind me and braids my hair as she talks, using her fingers like a comb over my head. “There is much to learn about this change you have been undergoing, my dear. You are rushed. You are jumping to conclusions that serve only to confuse you more.”
She tucks a loose strand of hair back into the braid.
“Too rushed?” I ask. “I thought there was a hurry. I thought we needed to move along as quickly as possible. I thought the goal is graduation.”
Her soft chuckle is like the chirp of a momma quail. “No, my dear. Not rushed. We have all the time in the world. What matters is your comprehension.” Tieing the braid with one of the fringes she snapped from her dress, Nituna stands, walks around me, and pulls me to my feet. She holds my face between her hands and smiles lovingly, “You are so beautiful.”
With her hands holding my face in place, I can’t shy away from her loving gaze. I can’t avoid her compliment. “Thank you” is all I can say. When she returns to her place on the boulder, I turn back into myself and try to forget her loving gaze and how totally overwhelming it felt. This is so powerful.
“My dear, the feelings you have for us, for your guides, for your Teacher, they are not wrong.” She nods slowly, as if to help send the thought to me through the waves of air and the music in the wind. “You are expected to be overwhelmed. That is why the lessons are so slow and heartbreaking. As you learn about us, about the love we embody, everything you’ve ever known, every lesson, every memory, every love, is thrown into a vat of questions.”
She motions for me to approach, so I do. I lean against the boulder, half on it, half off. She holds my hand, tracing the lines on the palm.
“Your life is long. This part is brief. Until you reach the end, you will not fully understand, and that is just fine. We have no judgment for you. You cannot do anything wrong because All That Is is love, and love does not judge.”
And as the lesson falls into my heart, I understand her words and the love that drowns me every day.
“So, what I feel for Teacher, dear Nituna, please tell me that’s normal. Is that really true love or is it just a normal schoolgirl crush?” I already know the answer.
She chuckles again, pulls my head toward her and places a kiss on my forehead. “This is not a normal crush. It is greater than that, but it is also misguided. The way humans interpret the all-consuming love of our dimension back Home is by comparing it to the deepest love felt in your 3D dimension. In reality, it is the love we all feel for our spirit family.”
I pull back and find her eyes — deep and dark. During her explanation I fall into her soul.
“Truly eternal love is too powerful for humans to experience and survive.”
Looking back later this day from the comfort of my living room couch, I am left with the memory of how things were before today’s realization. Before I understood that the love I feel is too rich to put a label on. There is no human definition that can explain this feeling.
Until next lesson, dear friends, I remain, ever-faithfully,
Teacher comes in transformed, his purple and blue wings catching an especially powerful beam of sunlight glistening through the mid-morning windows. The rainbow the beam produces seems to prepare the way for him. The dragonfly flutters to the end of the rainbow on the stage and is delivered next to the stage in front of the white board.
He rolls to a standing position as Teacher. This day he is wearing a blue linen robe, the kind worn by holy men and shepherds. Around his neck, a rich purple sash flutters.
“Ooh, this is freeing!” He says, shaking his hips apparently implying the freedom of wearing a dress. “Why do women even bother wearing pants! This is great.”
He turns toward his desk and plucks a full, red rose from the crystal bowl that has just appeared.
“So, back to today’s lesson. We have a guest speaker. I am so excited. You could say I’m tickled pink!”
He skips down the steps.
“Our guest wants to encourage you guys to choose another major. She wants … well, let her explain it. Let me tell you this, though. Nothing she is suggesting would deter you from the journey you have been on. It would just be offering you a second major, but ….” He stutters in the confusion of wanting to say more when less is enough. “Oh, let me let her tell you.”
He picks an iPhone out of the air and texts a quick message before tossing it back into the invisible vortex.
“She’s on her way.”
“Um, Teacher,” Hope says. “While we wait, can you tell us a little about her?”
“Well, I guess it wouldn’t be a bad thing…” He paces the room, weaving around student desks as if trying to settle his brain. “So, this woman is amazing. Some of you know her from stories that have been written about her, and then some of you may have actually experienced her through conversations she has had with you.”
Hands shoot up with questions he won’t acknowledge.
“As I started to tell you last class, some of you experience non-corporeal communication, but you don’t trust it. You think that little voice in your head is just you having an argument with yourself.”
He stops walking, but his hands take the energy he was burning by moving around the room. He starts to talk with his hands like the Cuban women I grew up with. “The truth is so much more amazing. Some of you have already met today’s guest,” he turns to me and I have to stifle a gasp as he crouches down next to me. “Right, Writer?”
I try to avoid my classmates’ attention, but it’s too late. “What are you talking about, Teacher?”
“Don’t worry about it. You’ll accept it soon enough.”
He turns back to the rest of the class. “So those who can hear now, those who pride yourself on your empathy and your clairaudience,” he glances around the room, locking eyes with a student every now and then, but I can’t move fast enough to see who nods back. “Those of you who can hear only know a tiny bit of what we are capable of. There’s so much more coming. Seriously. Can you imagine keeping in touch with those on the other side of that veil?”
Unable to keep his mouth shut anymore, Irreverent’s hand shoots up. His question is immediate. “How can that be healthy? I mean, really, then you would seriously be stuck in one relationship for eternity. How would we be able to grow?”
Teacher nods, a sly grin on his face. “Ah, yes. The human equivalent. I guess our expectations would have to change.”
“Really?” Hope says, echoing him. “Expectations would have to change?”
Teacher shrugs, brushing a hand over a hatless head. “I guess it won’t happen yet. You’ve still got a long way to go.”
Suddenly the room is engulfed in a brilliant pink light. Teacher’s head snaps toward the origin of the glow.
“Our guest. Please, come in, Dear Lady.”
The glow originates from somewhere behind me. I turn and have to shield my eyes from the brilliant light. It coats everything it touches with something that looks like a shimmering glow.
The woman, stunning in a blue robe similar to the one Teacher is wearing, steps forward, but it’s not a step she takes. Her movements are so fluid it’s like she’s gliding, and as she floats by me, the sickly, sweet smell of red roses overcomes me.
Suddenly I know the truth. I know her. She’s the woman who’s been talking to me in the silence of the night as the crickets are waking up and the dragonflies are skating into a deep sleep. Her hair is tucked under a shawl that matches her robe, but I know it’s a shade as beautiful as the night.
Then she speaks. Her voice in this reality is as sweet as it is in my mind, but with conscious ears the sound is musical. It rolls softly, weaving around the room until it reaches that sweet spot and twists into a little riptide of sound.
“Thank you, my friend,” she approaches Teacher and touches his cheek softly with a gentle hand. Our teacher smiles like a happy ten-year-old. I get a quick hint of a panting black dog, its tail pounding the ground like a woodpecker. But the vision was just my imagination. I think.
Teacher’s friend then turns to us. “I am so happy to be here with you, my children.” The glow from her face warms the room like a ray of sun after a rainstorm. “Thank you for letting me speak.”
The silence that comes over the room at the sound of her voice seems to welcome the ocean of her words.
“Do you know how powerful you are, Dear Ones?” She answers her own question. “No, you don’t. You are so powerful. In the whisper of a thought lies the promise of a miracle.”
The Lady gathers her gown and sits on a cement garden bench that has appeared in the middle of the classroom. “My children, what you desire comes to you if your desire is strong.”
A rock drops into my gut and I know Irreverent is trying to hold his tongue. Sometimes I think I feel too much.
“I know many of you doubt my words. No matter.” Her soft eyes move around the room as if keeping up with the rolling of her voice. “There are a few of you who will be born.”
Irreverent’s hand shoots up and the rock in my gut drops, but Teacher flashes a look toward him that orders him to not embarrass him.
The Lady continues.
“There are roses here. Beautiful roses who will work together for good. For the advancement of all. Don’t be afraid. It will always be for good.” A smile tugs on her lips. “When many are united for one task, the power of the one is undeniable.”
Her gaze goes from wandering the room to warm eyes that lock with mine.
I can’t help it. I gasp.
“My dear, you’re the writer, correct?”
The strong scent of the roses makes me dizzy. If I weren’t already sitting, I’d probably faint.
“You tell the story that will teach many.” She nods. “Thank you.”
Then she locks her eyes onto Hope, “and you, my dear. Sing for me, please.”
As if she cannot control herself, Hope breaks into a sweet, joyous melody that blesses us with every note. When the song is over, she slips into her seat again, dazed yet wearing a tender smile.
“There are many others just like you,” the Lady says. Together, you will spread the knowledge with which you have been blessed. The knowledge that in your unity, the Power of the Many as One is limitless. So infinite it will be the bridge between our worlds.”
She stands and holds her arms out toward us, encompassing the entire class. Until this very moment, I hadn’t realized where the pink glow was coming from, but now I see. As she raises her arms toward us, the pink glow streams from her hands, pouring pink-tinged golden light over the room. (Or maybe it’s just over the Roses?)
A tender heat pours over my head and courses around and through me, filling me with a warmth I have never known. My heart bursts and I can’t keep the sound hidden. My moan is not the only one that echoes around the room. It is the sound of limitless love.
“My children, please share the love with as many as you can. I know it won’t be easy. It might be frowned upon sometimes because what you must do sometimes is considered … “ She searches for the words, finally looking helplessly toward teacher.
“Kooky,” he says. “Yeah, students. If you choose this different major, you may be …”
His mouth forms the word, but The Lady interrupts, “Judged unjustly.” She shoots a look at him that tells me she knew exactly what he was going to say. “But fear not. There are more with you than those lost souls who will judge you.”
She steeples her hands at her chin.
“Simply have faith. You are my roses, my Rose Matrix, and as such you have been blessed with the ability to call on the power of The Many as One.”
After she left the room a little later, those of us she considered her Rose Matrix were overcome with her energy. We can’t keep this news hidden.
We are the Lady’s Rose Matrix. … the only question now is, what the heck are we supposed to be doing with this knowledge?
Until next class, dear friends, I remain forever faithfully,
“Some people hear beings that are not corporeal,” Teacher mumbles, more to himself than to anyone else as he walks in. He stops and looks around, seemingly just noticing us. “Some people hear beings that are not corporeal, and that is as it should be,” he repeats.
“What the fuck does that mean?” Irreverent Student bellows.
Teacher barely glances at him as he moves toward his stage at the front of the room. “It means some people who are alive in the same time and space as you can have conversations with people who have passed on to the other side.”
“And that’s normal?” Clyde’s question throws Teacher off his stride.
“No, actually, it’s not. Not yet, but maybe one day if those of you on Earth can pull her vibrations up enough.” He turns from us and most don’t hear what he says next. “Seems hopeless right now.”
The feeling that cloaks him reaches out toward me and pulls at the joyful anticipation I had felt before class started. I was looking for answers today.
Hope doesn’t feel the cloak yet, “How can we do that? Help Gaia, Mother Earth?”
“Oh, my dear.” He watches her in silence for what feels like a long while before turning away and returning to his stage.
The long while was long enough to give that cloak of darkness access.
“Teacher?” Hope’s question follows him up the steps.
“It is simple, my dear.” He grabs a marker before turning back toward us. “It is too simple. Many of you are simply not ready.” He tosses the marker back into its tray.
“I’m ready,” Hope says, her voice betraying her with its meekness. She’s not ready. Not anymore.
Teacher shakes his head sadly.
We’ve had this talk before in our tutoring sessions. I know the pain he is feeling. We may think we’re ready, but even I’m not ready sometimes. It is oftentimes difficult to ignore decades of human indoctrination.
I am struck by the desperation in his voice.
He drops into the white leather chair at his desk and clasps his hands together in a motion only I recognize as he steeples his fingers and leans them against his lips before dropping them in a softly clenched fist on his lap — he snuck in a prayer.
Finally, he leans forward again, propping his elbows on the desk. “Many of you want to believe, You want to live closer to your spiritual essence. That is the reason for your being in this class, after all. It is not fair of me to lay my mood on you.”
“Teacher,” I say in a voice meaning to convey the love I feel for him and his situation, “what happened? Why are you in such a mood. Was it something we did?”
My question seems to awaken him.
“Oh, my dear, no. Please don’t think that. I am sorry.” Placing his hands flat on the desk he stands, straightening his purple Guayabera over his blue linen pants, an action that triggers memories of my Cuban-American youth . “Oh, no, my dear. It is not you. I am sorry for bringing my mood.”
He claps his hands twice and a set of bongo drums appears center-stage. He taps them quickly like one would tap fingers on a desk. Instantly, the sound fills me with joy.
“I am so sorry,” he repeats. “I guess you can use this as a lesson.”
He drums his hands over the bongos. The hollow variations of the tapping reverberate around the classroom and inject themselves into my heart.
“The lesson, I suppose for me, as well, is how feelings can transcend one person to infect another.”
He continues his rhythmic tapping as he talks. As the sound continues, I catch glimpses of my classmates reacting softly. Some bounce their heads, others rock gently in their seats. Irreverent seems unaffected until I catch a slight tapping of his fingers on his lap. The sound is truly rolling through us.
“As this rhythm touches you, dear students, people’s emotions affect each other and affect Gaia, Mother Earth.”
Tap, tap, tap-tap.
“When Humans feel love, that love is felt by each person they interact with.”
“The love rolls around the room, around the town, around the Earth; It’s a beautiful thing.”
Tap. Tap. Tap-tap-tap-tap. Tap.
“But anger travels twice as far and twice as fast. It’s an easier emotion to own. What anger brings is more anger sevenfold. So every angry emotion felt multiplies itself seventy times seven times and lowers our vibrations and Gaia’s vibrations.”
Tap, tap, tap, tap-tap-tap-tap.
“It’s a shitty thing we do to each other.”
He taps out a furious, jungle-type beat before slamming his hand for a final bang that shocks through me and digs into that place in my heart that’s not healthy.
“Fear travels faster and farther still.”
“So what do we do, Teacher?” Even though he swears this mood of his was not our doing, I wonder what news came to him when he talked to his Spirit friends before today’s class. I wonder if he knows.
“Try to steer clear of the dark feelings, the ones that lower your vibrations. The ones that infect your friends and spread like wildfire.”
My guilt is too heavy now to keep hidden. “I’m sorry, Teacher.”
He straightens his Guayabera again before locking eyes with me. He taps a quick riff on the drums once again then, “Why do you continue to think this is your fault?”
Because it was. This entire lesson was for me. I completely get the impact of bongo drums on a person’s mood. This lesson was for me and my moment of doubt.
This lesson was my clarity.
Much love to you, dear classmates. I continue to be, most assuredly,
“So did you start working on this project?” Hope sparkles when she walks into my apartment after giving me a quick kiss on the cheek. “I brought my half. I thought we could compare the two and then make them work together.”
I dig through my homework folder, but I know she won’t be satisfied. I’d been waiting for inspiration. It never came. I lay my poster on the kitchen counter, the largest flat surface I have.
Fortunately, Hope wanted to be in control of this project.
“Oh, that’s so cute,” she says about my rough sketch of what I had envisioned for our representation of the human Chakras. I thought we could take my old Dizzy Lizzy rag doll and Bedazzle colored stones down her spine. I thought her purple hair would be perfect.
And this is when I remember why I don’t do well with group projects. I love Hope, but she’s so hyper-stressed about schoolwork. That’s why she’s got better grades. I’m more the follow-the-essence-of-the-assignment type of person. Usually, I don’t stress. The perfect answer just comes to me. Group projects introduce stress into my life. I don’t do well when I’m stressed. My creativity shuts down.
Hope returns to the hallway outside my front door and pulls in a big pink suitcase on wheels, laying it flat on the tile in my kitchen.
“Okay, so what I was thinking is we have to place this away from high-traffic areas.” She unfolds a giant, intricate model of a DNA molecule. It snaps into place at six feet tall. “All we have to do is paint the sections the right color, then, after the paint dries, we can wrap this around it.”
She reaches into a Mary Poppins bag I thought was her purse. She tugs at something that gets stuck then, as it becomes visible, I realize it’s an umbrella, of sorts.
“We need to paint this part silver, to represent the awakened soul.”
Attached to the umbrella’s shaft is a feather boa. The spine of each individual pure white feather has already been painted silver.
“These are dove feathers. Perfectly pure spiritual beings to symbolize our perfect transition one day.”
The beauty of the boa steals my breath as it grips at that place in my chest that makes me cry. Finally, I find my voice. “This is amazing, Hope.”
“I was inspired.” She hands me the red paint and a brush. “You start at the Root Chakra, I’ll start at the Crown. We’ll meet in the middle.”
We get to work, my Dizzy Lizzy idea now simply scrap paper on which I clean my brush between colors. Then a harsh tapping comes at my window. It’s not really tapping, it’s more like a pecking bird – click, click, clatter. I slide the glass door open and step onto the patio, dodging a handful of pebbles that scatter onto the tile.
A plop and a screech later, “What the heck!”
I close the door behind me, muffling the screaming. On the lawn two stories below, I find teacher, wearing purple Universal T-shirt, bright blue swim trunks and a Goofy baseball cap with floppy ears attached. The smile on his face matches the cap.
“So, you two up for a field trip?” he says, juggling three bigger rocks.
Standing next to him, Clyde and Irreverent are wearing red matching Thing 1 and Thing 2 T-shirts.
Hope squeezes through the door. For a moment, she stands there watching the personification of playing hooky.
“Hey, Hope,” Clyde waves his big foam Mickey Mouse hand. “Come on, Teacher’s taking us to Sea World next. I can’t wait to see what he does with Shamu!”
Glancing over my shoulder at our nearly finished project, I’m about to toss the paint brush in the sink.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Hope hisses before turning to the boys. “We are doing our homework, Sir. I’m sorry, but we’re going to have to bow out of this offer. Sounds great, but you said the project was important.” She pauses before suddenly realizing, “Hey, you guys haven’t even started yet! How can you take a break?”
Irreverent gets a nod from Teacher. “It’s only half important,” he says. “Teacher says that sometimes you have to see the world through the eyes of the troublemakers!”
“Of course, you would pick up on that, wouldn’t you, Irreverent?” Hope sneers.
Teacher steps toward the front. “I’m so sorry you don’t see it our way, Hope. We’ll miss you.” He holds his hand out toward me, as if expecting me to grab his hand. “How about you, dear Writer? Would you like to break in my new car with us? It’s a sweet ride.”
He points toward something that looks like a rainbow threw up on a convertible Mystery Machine and I can’t help but giggle.
“Come on. It’ll be okay,” he says. “Your life can’t be all about one thing. Life is about so much more. Sometime it’s time to have fun.” He claps three times and a crystal staircase builds step by step until it’s level with my porch. “Actually, you should always be ready to have fun. This is your only life as the person you are today.”
“Hope?” In my gut, I know what she’s going to say. I try to change her mind. “It looks like fun. I hear you can actually fish for real pearls there. Come on. We can try our luck at some really cool jewelry.”
“Ladies,” Hope and I look toward Teacher. In the short time since they got here, the sun has set. Teacher has both arms over his head, a lighter glowing brightly in each hand. The boys each have lighters also. “You two are amazing. You are rock stars in my class. Come on, you are enlightened already!” three spotlights flash blue, red, and yellow beams on us.
A rock band starts playing from somewhere behind us. My apartment has become a stage. The lawn below is packed with rocking fans in a ridiculous example of a real concert.
I step forward and am followed by a brilliant, solitary spotlight. When I open my mouth, the audience roars.
What the hell?
“You two fuckin’ rock!” Teacher flashes rock hands and swings his tongue wildly in his open mouth. Ewww.
I turn back to Hope. “How can you say no to our audience?”
I think I’ve convinced her. “But the paint will dry uneven,” she says.
Shrugging, I say, “Yeah, but we’ll have lived, Hope. Isn’t living better than finishing a perfect project? Especially when the Teacher tells you to ignore the homework?”
I left with Teacher, dear friends. What would you have done?
“You say your homework is done,” Teacher threads around the seats of student desks collecting his most recent homework assignment. He glances at each paper before placing it in the stack in his hands. “But some of these seem incomplete.”
When he’s done collecting, he steps back up to his desk and straightens the stack of papers on the corner. He flips through them in the silence of a class full of students who think they did the homework correctly.
“I am disappointed in some of you guys,” he says, never lifting his eyes from the papers.
I thought my work was stellar, and Hope let me see her homework. It was amazing. What was he looking for? This thing was tough! At first, I thought it would be easy, then I remembered the color that made me miss my true love — the indigo of his eyes. It all went downhill after that.
Irreverent Student seems just as irritated. He raises his hand but doesn’t wait to be called.
“I don’t get it, sir. What did ya want? I followed your directions to a T. What the hell did you expect?”
Teacher nods slowly as Irreverent continues his gripe.
“I mean, really, it was hard to get a negative for Orange, but I got it finally. I finally remembered the Caution tape around dangerous construction zones and how danger could mean untimely death. I get that this assignment was meant to have us stretch our perceptions, but I don’t get why you’re not happy.”
Teacher sits on the edge of the desk, shuffling limber legs over and around impatiently before finally dropping down onto the top step.
“Do you agree, Writer?”
I fumble for an answer.
Irreverent jumps in before I can answer. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be disrespectful, sir, but we’re fucking 3D beings, remember? Heavy. Isn’t that what you called it?”
“Um, we tried our best, sir,” I say, trying to soothe frazzled nerves.
Teacher focuses on what Irreverent had said. “Why do you think I’m not happy?”
His pointed question makes me mute for a couple of seconds until, “Because, sir, you haven’t smiled. You haven’t said Well-Done.” And, to tell the truth, I can’t even tell what he’s wearing today. It’s like something is blocking my vision.
“Why do you need my approval?”
What kind of a question is that from teacher to student?
“We’re only students, sir. We need proof that we’re heading in the right direction. We’re still learning.”
He shakes his head, running a hand through his fluffy hair before straightening the deep purple bandanna wrapped around his forehead. Suddenly I see what he’s wearing: a dark blue, Avenged Sevenfold band T-shirt, black skinny jeans, and metal, rocker wristbands.
“No, you’re re-learning. You knew all of this before.”
Oh, yeah. That argument.
“Why do you need my approval? Why do you need my autograph with a big, dopey happy face and blood-tinged A, man?” He makes rocker fists and walks away from me.
He’s walking away from me? Hell no!
I run up behind him and tug hard on his arm. “Because we’re human and we need approval,“ I shriek. My voice, aching with the pain brought on by his dark mood, cracks. But I have to hold my own.
“That’s exactly your problem,” he says, his voice just a little more gentle than before. Maybe my reaction shocked him back to being the Teacher we know and love.
He shuffles through the pages again. “You’ve all done a remarkable job on Steps 1 and 2, the color identifications, but Step 3 was a massive fail.”
“But there was nothing to write for Step 3,” Hope’s soft voice enters the conversation.
“Exactly. How could I gauge your comprehension but by your reactions?” Teacher says. “Why did you need physical proof if you knew you were right? Your perception of your own advancement in these lessons is crucial. You will not be successful if you have no faith in your own abilities to conquer these lessons. Your self-judgments will damn you. You will never succeed if you don’t accept that you have actually re-learned.”
He walks back to me and helps me onto his stool. “I’m sorry, Writer, for using you for this lesson.” He walks away, gently tracking his fingers down my arm for support before turning toward the rest of the class. “Come out of the darkness. You’re armed with all the knowledge you’ll need.”
“But it’s so tough.” I say, my voice barely above a whisper. “Being a student sucks.”
Our eyes lock and it’s as if he’s only talking to me.
“There’s someone looking out for you. I’m here to help guide you through this 3D darkness.” He pauses, his eyes dropping slightly. “What do I need to do to prove it to you? You gotta trust. I can’t do anything if you won’t just let go of the crap that weighs you down.”
He comes back to my side, kneeling so close that I can see the gold streaks in the hair near his temple.
“Writer, please tell your classmates what you know.”
At first, I have no clue what he’s talking about. Then something clicks. “Everything we want already exists,” I say, remembering a recent tutoring session I had with Teacher. “Only our own beliefs hold us back.”
“Your own perception, dear students. What holds you back is your own perception.”
But no matter how much I understand his lessons, I still have moments. Like today.
“Why, sir,” I say. “Why do we doubt? Why do we perceive things so harshly even when you assure us that we’re right?”
And then, suddenly and for the first time all class, he smiles.
“Because you’re human. You said it best, this shit sucks.” He skips up the steps to his stage. “You’re flying blind down here.”
When he turns to us, his eyes are glassy and empty. He places small, John Lennon sunglasses over them. In his hand he holds a black cane that he clicks around in front of him before moving forward.
“I don’t blame you. In fact, most of my buddies bet me that you guys weren’t ready. I lost a bunch on this experiment, I gotta tell ya. But it’s not your fault.”
Well, that’s good to know. Because, really, he had been bumming me out big time!
“Let’s try something.” He snaps his fingers. The glasses disappear and his eyes return to normal. He calls a few of us onstage: Hope, Irreverent Student, Clever Clyde, and, of course, me. He points to the stool in the middle of the classroom, “That’s Home.” Then he blindfolds us and gives us each a cane.
He skips away. I know this because his voice disappears as he says “Make it back Home on your own.”
The stage becomes an arena of bumps and grunts as we try to follow his order. Canes click against canes and tap on the tile of the stage. Bump. Excuse me. Crash — something falls off Teacher’s desk.
Then Teacher calls out: “Follow the sound of my voice without doubt.”
I focus on his voice as he calls to us because he’s never let me down before. I stop briefly to better orient myself while my classmates continue fumbling.
This doesn’t make sense, I think as I step toward him, I should have fallen off the stage by now, but I continue heading toward him. Gingerly, I tap my cane before stepping toward the unknown, expecting each step to trip me and send me tumbling but knowing I trust him.
“Stop.” Teacher calls. “Now remove your blindfold.”
When I look, I’m a good five feet from the stage where my classmates stand, mouth agape. I’m on a bridge that wasn’t there before. As for the stool that was Home? It’s at my fingertips.
“My lessons are a bridge for you,” He explains. “Trust. Live. Breathe and Believe. I will not let you fall. You are my students, my beloved family.”
A ghost of a memory slips across his face before disappearing. “When you doubt yourselves, you are losing faith in the lessons you have learned with me. You have lost faith in me. Believe. The lie that says you are not able to remember is simply that, A Lie. It is the crutch you use to keep you from fully accepting this new reality.
“Sometimes you just have to trust that you have learned something with me.”