1,871 words total. This was an "emergency Story 3" for my Creative Writing class, so there are footnotes at the bottom that pertain to certain story elements outlined here. Malisyn's thoughts -- about Korean Kung Fu movies and paying the Utility bill are all about being "deep inside the character's head" and I took it to the point of distraction. This isn't my normal writing style: it is meant to be weird.
The room was dark. The blinds were pulled shut. The sounds from the streets outside were silenced. Even the air inside was quiet and still. Dust filtered through the light that snuck through the cracks in the blinds. Golden-amber rays cast rectangles of muted light on the wooden floor. If you didn't know the building was in the middle of an urban jungle—you could have believed it wasn't.1
Malisyn stood in the darkened doorway. She stared down at her cellphone. This was the address, right? Her brows furrowed. Maybe she shouldn't have looked at a random posting on CraigsList for a new yoga studio. Who calls a yoga studio Magical Yoga? Maybe the old building was a front; a place to lure in unsuspecting women who came alone. Maybe this place was just a front for axe murderers. A whole gang of axe murderers, straight out of some terribly dubbed Korean flick, just waiting for a young woman like her to show up--2
But then she'd fall in love with one of the Korean men because he was obviously misunderstood and then they'd find out that, secretly, they were half-siblings because of some random love affair her mother had had twenty years before and their love would be doomed because, gross3. She closed the screen on her phone, shoved it in her back pocket—which she didn't have since she was wearing yoga pants—and sighed. She shoved the phone into the side of her yoga pants and hoped no one noticed. No one's going to notice, right?4 Where the hell is everyone?
She clutched her yoga mat to her chest and blinked. Her breath quickened as she waited for her eyes to adjust and somehow find the bodies of a hundred dismembered young women on the floor. This better not be some of that weird, kinky yoga. She thought and took a step back.
She bumped into something, squeaked, and dropped her mat.
A man stood behind her.
This is definitely some of that weird, kinky yoga shit! She practically fell onto her mat in her rush to pick it back up.
“I know kung-fu!” She lied. What she meant was: she had over a hundred hours invested in watching kung-fu movies. When her faux-karate-chops didn't seem to startle the man, she pretended it didn't happen.
“The sign outside said 'yoga class, walk-ins welcome.'” Malisyn stammered over her shoulder at the stranger. Did he look a little Asian? Korean, maybe? No. More like Yul Brynner. Well, that was just fine, too.
“You have an unusual style of yoga. What is that, jumpy-in-my-twenties-style? Kung Fu Yoga?” the man said and Malisyn heard the slight smile in his voice. He brushed past her and walked toward the front of the darkened room.
“Hey, uh--” Malisyn followed after him. “Isn't there anyone else in this class? I mean, weird?”
“The sign said 'walk-in welcome.' You're the only one who has walked in today. You're free to walk-out.”
You're free not to be such an asshole. No wonder you don't have any students. She thought about it, quickly checked for axes in the darkest corners of the room and threw open her yoga mat. Her cellphone slipped down her leg and tumbled out onto the floor. She ignored it. For a moment, then scrambled to check for missed messages.
“My name is Nox,” the man said as he sunk to the floor, cross-legged, on the only yoga mat in the room. He rested his wrists upon his knees and breathed deeply.
Nox became aware of the air as it filled his lungs. He closed his eyes, tried to block out the distracting presence that was this strange girl. He listened as she fumbled to unroll the mat. He didn't think she could have made more noise if she'd tried. He heard her frantically tapping on the screen of her cellphone. This girl just doesn't get yoga.5 Maybe she'll understand magic better.
“Malisyn,” she mumbled and tried to sit like he did. She set her cellphone aside. “And I don't know a thing about yoga. It's supposed to be relaxing, right? I'm all out of friends. I need a distraction.”6
They sat facing each other for a long minute. Finally, Malisyn couldn't take it anymore.
“This place is called Magical Yoga. That's a bit weird, isn't it?”
Nox stifled a sigh.
“Breathe in. Be aware of your breath as it moves and fills your lungs. Can you feel it? Close your eyes.” Nox asked and watched as Malisyn struggled to relax. He could practically see the thoughts flying from her brain like emoticons7. The poor thing. Her sex life8 was probably awful and full of stress. He arched an eyebrow at the thought.
Malisyn nodded, but she only heard half of what he had said. ...I wonder if I paid the utility bill. Did I pay the utility bill? I know I paid for my parking pass. That was $20 for the month. Twenty fucking dollars. Who has to pay, what is that, $0.65 a day? What a weird, arbitrary number. Magical Yoga, why is this place called magical? Does he juggle or something—or worse, tell jokes? I hope not—oh, shit, is he still talking to me? She cracked an eye open, hopefully.
“...doesn't work if you're not listening.” He sighed. “Would you care for me to demonstrate why this place is called Magical Yoga?” Malisyn shrugged and then remembered, yes, yes she had paid the utility bill. She yawned and looked for a clock somewhere.
Nox pulled a knife from beneath his yoga mat.9
Malisyn's breath caught in her throat. She was prone, sitting cross-legged, she couldn't exactly get up and run. He'd stab her to death before she could--
He turned his free wrist toward the ceiling and ran the knife along his flesh. Blood dripped down his skin and onto his yoga mat. His eyes were still closed.
“Take a deep breath,” Nox said. Malisyn suddenly remembered to breathe. “Yoga is all about connecting with the here and now. Not being distracted by intrusive memories, nostalgia, regret or fantasy. No social media, no text messages, no nagging responsibilities. It's about returning to the original tenderness of our youth, before we forgot what it was like to relax and live.” As he spoke, he drew the knife again across his wrist, this time in a deliberate spiral pattern.10
In the darkness—a calming purple smoke lifted from his blood and floated into the air like heavy fog. It moved softly, as delicate as his breath, and shimmered like an iridescent cloud. The forgotten rays of sunlight filtered through the cloud and turned purple against the floor.
“In our society, as we grow, we become guarded. Our heart is held in a cage within our chest.”
“That's why it's called a rib cage,” Malisyn said with an involuntary snort. Fear made her giddy.11
The smoke shifted into the shape of a heart. It pulsed like a heartbeat and the color changed from purple to a deep red.
“At our center—what's called the Focal Heart12—it's the place where we retreat into ourselves. Where we tend to withdraw from the world, from each other. But the Focal Heart is meant to be a source of energy, where we can withdraw, we can also expand.” The smoke disappeared and Nox opened his eyes.
Nox lifted his bloodied arm and held it up to show Malisyn. He had carved the shape of a heart into his flesh. His blood was beginning to dry against his skin.
“The heart is the center of courage and strength, it takes you back to your original tenderness. Before the world stole it from you, replaced your courage with fear, your strength with weakness.”
“Magical Yoga—brings you back to center. It replaces your fear with courage, your weakness with strength. It burns away your fear and reconnects you. It's magic.”
Nox pulled the blade up his arm and let blood pool down his skin and into his palm. His mouth twitched, not quite a smile—and fire exploded from his arm. It engulfed his flesh, lighting up the room with a fierce yellow and orange glow. Malisyn's eyes went wide and she was frozen to her yoga mat, unable to move, to try and stop Nox from burning to a crisp.
Except he didn't; the fire didn't seem to touch his skin at all—just danced upon it, springing from the blood that ran down his arm.
“Blood magic comes from the heart, where your courage and strength is hidden. Magical Yoga—taking the time to reconnect with yourself, and your heart—helps you bring it back.”13 Nox pushed the knife across the yoga mat toward Malisyn.
Malisyn reached out with a shaky hand and picked up the knife. She wiped his blood off on her yoga mat.
“All I have to do is bleed, right?” “Bleed—and believe.”
Normal setting, no Fantasy or Sci-fi elements. A real area, a yoga studio. The beginnings of Fabulism.
Entering into the mind of a young early-twenties, late-teens woman with an over-active imagination. Saunder's style, where you're not quite sure what is going on because you're inside the head of the character.
Use of character's language, “gross.” Disrupts the style of the story, very much belongs to Malisyn. Saunder's style.
It doesn't matter to anyone if they notice or not, but it lends to ground a sense of Malisyn's insecurities through thoughts.
Switching to Nox's perspective, head-hopping. Saunder's style. To learn more about Nox through his own perspective and how he feels about Malisyn—which isn't much, since she's texting in the middle of his Yoga class.
She speaks as randomly as she thinks, trying to develop a clear character voice here.
Trying some weirder descriptions here, borderline Fabulism/Magical Realism (are there actual thought bubbles or aren't there?)
I feel like him even thinking about that throws the reader off balance. But maybe that's just me. Maybe this is more roving third person, since I switch back and forth between the heads of these two characters.
Everything is decidedly normal until this point—then he pulls a knife, and it gets weird.
Magic! It's more than the half-way point—but if it's Fabulism, does it have to follow that strict rule? Magic is normal for Nox, not normal for Malisyn, so this seemed like an experiment in Fabulism. Or I could argue that it just changed to genre-fiction.
Trying to insist this is different for the character, but normal for magic to be around Nox.
Specificity (of yoga). I tried hard not to use any physical details (except comparing Nox to Yul Brynner).
Fabulism “should” have some kind of message. This is meant to be a commentary on A: how amazing Yoga is, that's it's not just meant for women (it was originally made for and practiced only by men), and B: that we're too disconnected in this age of technology, so reconnect with yourself, via Yoga, but do it with blood because it's cool. I promise I'm not poking at Jesus here.