Chapter 10: First Lesson
She folded straight down in place, cross-legged, partly in response to my invitation, but partly also I think because she just needed to sit down. She’d just seen me do three impossible things, and it wasn’t even lunchtime yet. She’d need practice.
I tried to keep the smugness off my face. I’m proud of my skills, but I also know they’re literally the most natural things in the world. I wield the skills, but they’re gifts to me, not something I invented or brought to the world.
I decided to take the Socratic path. “Kaitlyn, why do you come out here?”
“Well, I suppose it just feels nice. I like hiking, even the bits other people would call unpleasant. I like the burn in my legs, the tight and sore tendons the next day, the sting of sand in my face in a windstorm. I thrill at the power of a 10-minute desert rainstorm bracketed both sides by bright sunshine. I love it all.”
“Do you feel the Earth, Kaitlyn? I don’t mean abstractly, and I don’t mean in the jejune literal sense of feeling the sand there under your legs now. I mean, can you feel it, inside you?”
“That’s a bit too mystical for me.” She paused for thought, then said, “But I think I have to say I’m agnostic, if I’m being honest.”
“Let’s try and find out, then. Earlier, I offered to get dressed to make you more comfortable. Would you be willing to join me naked instead?” Quickly I went on, holding my hands up in a warding gesture, “Feel free to refuse. I will get up and walk back to my camp if you tell me to; right here, right now. I mean no threat by this offer of knowledge. I’m not just trying to get you naked. The thing is, I need you to be naked in order to find the answers to these questions.”
“But you’d like to see me naked anyway, wouldn’t you?” she pointed out with a quirk of her mouth.
“Abso-fricking-lutely. But please also believe me when I tell you that it’s how you’ll get your answers, if we can get them at all today. I can’t guarantee you answers, but I can promise to spend the time it takes to try, if you’re willing.”
She leaned back and rested on her hands, just looking at me. I could tell she was trying to figure out if I was some kind of perv. I think the thing that sold it was my flaccid member. I was concentrating on other things at the moment.
I’m young and heterosexual enough to be distracted and attracted by a beautiful woman, but I can maintain concentration when I have to. I’m a bit aspy, which has its downsides, but one of the few upsides of a mild case like mine is an ability to concentrate on details in an uncommonly single-minded fashion. You find this attribute in a lot of computer geeks, because it’s a good match with the way computers work: they’re absolutely single-minded and utterly literal, so those of us who are born on the autism spectrum tend to have an unusually high level of affinity with computers. It’s not that we think like computers, exactly, it’s just that we relate better to them than neurotypical people do, so we tend to achieve higher levels of success in our work with computers than others, winning positions disproportionally to neurotypical people, so the field as a whole has more aspies than you’d expect to find elsewhere.
“Who are you? What do I call you?” she demanded with a squint to her eyes.
“I’m Devindra. Devindra Bhat. I was born and raised in India, but I’m a US citizen now, so you don’t have to worry about illegal el-yens.” I pronounced the last word with an exaggerated stereotypical Southern hick drawl, trying to get her to relax a bit. “I’ve lived and worked in Moab for three years now. You know that computer place on 2nd East, a few blocks back from Main? There.”
“All right, deal.” A bit nervously, she began by unbuttoning her jean shorts. She lay on her back to straighten the zipper out, slid it down to its stops, then wiggled out of their tight confines, revealing a practical set of white cotton brief panties.
Call it a kink if you like, but I think those are so much sexier than so-called “lingerie.” You can keep your garters and hose; give me white cotton undies. Yum! People are strange; I am a member of class “people;” therefore, I am strange. QED.
She looked at me closely for a bit, deciding if I was going to jump at her or something, then shrugged with decision, crossed her arms over her chest, grabbed the lower hem of her tee shirt with her hands, and pulled it over her head, setting it atop the shorts. A matching white cotton bra, nicely sculpted, but not “lingerie.” Practical, beautiful, and lovely. It said “woman” to me.
Kaitlyn then hiked one knee up under her chin and untied the shoe, set it aside, then did the same with the other. She grabbed her white athletic ankle socks, pulled them off, and stuffed them into the shoes to keep the sand off.
At this point, we both knew she was at a bit of a crossroads, so I stepped in: “Kaitlyn, I’m going to walk up the canyon about a hundred feet to that bend, where it’ll stay sunny longer. We need to get away from your clothing to do the next step, but I understand if that makes you nervous, so I’m going to walk up there alone, and you’re going to decide whether to join me in the nude, or to stay here and watch, or to grab your clothes and run. I won’t chase you if you run. You can find your answers up the canyon with me, but only in your natural state. And lose the ankle chain, please. You need to be absolutely natural for this.” Her eyes went up and down my body a few times, confirming that I was not only wearing no clothing, I also had no jewelry, no accessories of any kind.
I got smoothly to my feet, without the acrobatics this time, and walked calmly up the canyon. As I got out past the zone I’d cleared earlier, I sensed more discarded trash and collected it along the way, setting it aside the same way I’d done before. Then I lay down on my back in a star shape again and stretched my senses out to feel for more unnatural inclusions in the local ecosphere. I found two more buried pieces, retrieved them, added them to my collection, and then returned to my relaxed position.
Kaitlyn hadn’t moved the whole time. She’d just watched me warily. I think she wanted to see what I’d do, but seeing me walk away from her like that, then walk around clearly paying attention to other things, not to the beautiful young woman in her skivvies, then finally laying out there like that, helpless…that sold her. She knew she could get away if she wanted to now, and she knew I had my mind on other things than her body, at least outwardly. All that was left was for her to decide if she wanted in. She did.
She contorted both hands behind her back and unclasped her bra, shrugged her shoulders forward to make it slide down her arms and off, then aimed the bra’s fall onto the clothes pile with a twitch of her clever hands in a move she must have been practicing since she got her first training bra.
Next, she hooked her thumbs into the waist of her panties and slid them down far enough that they fell on their own. She stepped one foot out of them, then used her other foot to give a tiny little kick, flicking her white cotton panties onto the top of the pile.
Finally, she lifted one foot up onto a nearby tall rock, bent over, and removed her ankle chain, tucking it into the coin pocket of her shorts lying there on the ground.
Shortly afterward she was standing over me, looking down at my nude body, facing straight up in a star shape, relaxed, with me clearly paying no attention to her show. I’d been in a trance since walking away from Kaitlyn, concentrating on cleaning up my local area so I could work, and ever since laying down, I’d been concentrating on melting into Gaia. I was aware of Kaitlyn as she walked to me, but I was in no mental state to pay attention to her nudity. All I felt was another natural object moving nearby.
“All right, blow my mind, sensei,” she challenged, still standing over me.
A grinned up at the sky, then said, “I’m Indian, so I think the proper term of address is ‘guru,’ young shishya.”
“It means ‘student,’ more or less,” I replied. More like ‘disciple,’ but I didn’t want her to think I was trying to induct her into some kind of wacky cult.
She put her hands together in front of her chest, fingertips up in a yoga mountain pose and gave a slight bow, saying, “So melt my mandala, then, guru.” She gave me a wonderful half-smile, the sort where the teeth barely show as the person tries hard to hold back a full toothy grin. It reminded me of Carrie Fisher in Star Wars for some reason. Hold it together Davie!
We let our mirth subside, then I bade her, “Lie down on the ground like me, head-to-head, legs pointing the opposite way from mine.” I felt her life presence walk around above my head then lay down and spread out in another star shape, mirroring mine, our heads and hands separated by about a foot, our hands spread out at head height. We could have reached up over our heads and touched the other’s hands if we’d wanted to, but this wasn’t about touching a fellow naked human being, it was about touching Gaia.
I let her get comfortable, then asked, “Are you ready, Kaitlyn?”
“Yes,” she said.