Fall foliage: a guided meditation
Close your eyes and make yourself comfortable as we begin our guided fall foliage meditation, a journey through the majestic fall views of New England, from the beautiful mountains of Maine and Vermont to storytelling towns and cities. covered bridges of Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
Take a deep breath as you imagine boarding the leafy sightseeing bus. There are other people on this bus, but don’t let them interfere with your experience. It is your meditation. Throughout these next ten minutes, I really need you to remember this.
All the seats on the window are taken. It is very good. There are no bad views on this bus. You choose a seat next to a middle-aged man with a large camera hanging from his neck. Embroidered on his sweatshirt are the words “Grandpa’s Little Leaf Voyeur,” which is confusing but not something to lose your focus on. You nod your head hello. He lifts his camera and takes a burst of photos of your face, then turns away. Again, don’t worry.
You turn your attention across the aisle to an older couple lovingly leaning on each other and laughing over a movie on their iPad. The woman notices you and smiles. She said something, but too quietly to hear it. You lean over to her, and she repeats herself, louder now. “Buckle up, bitch. We’re going to see some fucked up leaves over there today. You nod politely to her, being careful to avoid eye contact. Never look her in the eye.
You hear the crackle of a microphone coming on – it’s your guide, Warren, standing at the front of the bus. Warren is a beefy man who recently divorced, but it wasn’t something he wanted.
“Vermont!” Warren yells. “Green Mountain State, here we come!” “
Everyone on the bus applauds.
“What are we looking for?” Warren asks playfully.
“Foliage!” shout the passengers in unison.
“And what is the foliage?” “
“Sheets!” they all scream.
You shout “Trees! “
Everyone crans their necks to see who said “trees”. A murmur of boos slowly grows louder. Your seatmate turns to you and whispers to you, urgently: “You made a mistake!” “
You wait, your face red, for the boos to fade; finally, the bus stops at a vantage point, above a breathtaking purple canopy of maples and dogwoods. Warren announces that you have fifteen minutes to enjoy the view before getting back on the road.
Everyone gets off the bus, taking pictures wildly as they go. In the midst of the chaos, you are stuck in the doorway between two people, forced to fight your way, landing hard on the asphalt.
“Trees? Ha! You idiot,” said a child, stepping over you.
You get up slowly, brush the dirt off your clothes, and walk through the crowd. You meet a father and his adult son sitting on a bench. The son brings a cider donut to his mouth and licks it in a way that doesn’t seem quite human. Sharp and quick licks, dozens. He then hands the wet, un-bitten donut to his dad, who places it in a Ziploc bag with others. Why?
You descend a small staircase to a secluded spot. Finally on your own, you are able to breathe and clear your mind of everything except the donut licking, which is always there.
Moments later, two women from the bus, Barb and Carol, stumble upon your little nook. They are British and nice, in their late sixties. Barb hands you her phone and asks if you’d like to take a picture of them. She calls you “love”. In order to get the mountain tops in the frame, you ask them to stand back. Then one more. Barb stumbles over loose shale and tumbles down the canyon. His fall is strangely silent. Why did you ask him to take that extra step? It doesn’t matter now. She is dead. You killed Barb, and Carol knows it. But only Carole. Just as she’s about to scream, you pick up Barb’s phone and ram it into Carol’s temple, then kick her like you’ve done it a million times before. Although you only did what you had to do, you will live with it forever. But right now you are meditating, and the view is magnificent.
Dazed, you walk back to the bus, but stop when you hear muffled sobs behind a bush. It’s Warren, staring into the abyss as he injects himself with something. He might be diabetic, you think. He is not. It’s methamphetamine. You try to sneak in, but a twig snaps under your foot. Warren’s head turns to you, his eyes burning with meth. “Are you planning to talk to someone about this?” ” he asks.
“About what?” you respond, trying to calm her mind.
“I recently got divorced,” says Warren. “It’s not something I wanted.”
He raises his needle to you in a gesture of gratitude. You glance at her, as if to say “Thank you, but I’m not on meth” and you turn to walk away, but you can’t shake the image of Barb and Carol’s faces. Their expressions are haunting. Obviously, you still haven’t finished killing them. You show your arm and look at Warren, as if to imply, “Let’s put meth in here.” The rush is indescribable. Needless to say, the meth and the foliage really is something.
Back on the bus, a window seat opened. I guess you could say you deserved it. You pray that Warren is too high to count, and casually kick Barb’s Union Jack purse and Carol’s Beatles backpack under a seat. Boy, were they British.
You go to the bathroom to spray your face with cold water to try to control this state of euphoria and this meditation. On your way, you meet the older couple from earlier. They start laughing and watching their movie again. From this angle you see it’s hardcore porn. And that the people there are them.
Back in your seat, you decide to sleep without meth. Some time later you are awakened by the sound of sirens. Your bus stops at the side of the road and everyone climbs up to the windows.
The door opens, and two patrol boats advance. A third follows with a woman in tow, who has difficulty climbing the stairs. This woman is Barb — bloody, and dragging her crushed leg. She reaches the top step, sweeps the crowd, and points straight at you with her remaining arm. “Hello… Love,” she manages to say before collapsing.