I was lying down, on something that was too soft to be the floor. I leaned back. There was something under my head. A pillow.
I should wake up, I thought, though I wasn't sure why.
"It's alright," Jared's voice said in my head.
Right. No need to wake up then. Gratefully, I let myself drift off into the darkness again.
"Stay here. Remember what we taught you."
Ah, yes. I took a deep breath. I know this, I thought. No need to remind me.
Feel yourself. Feel where you are and where you're not. Somehow, it seemed hard to focus.
I must be tired, I told myself. I know how to do this. I closed my eyes and willed my body to relax. That's it, I thought. Nice and easy.
The boundaries of my being kept shifting all the time, and for a vertigo-filled moment I was sure I was going to be sucked into myself and disappear into nothingness. I jerked back, like a man emerging from the mountain mists and finding himself on the edge of an abyss.
Let's leave that for now, I told myself. I tried opening my eyes, but the light sent a fiery bolt of pain through my skull. "I'm not feeling well," I said, unable to produce more than a whisper.
"That's alright. Take your time."
Right. Centre, I thought. Find your centre. Connect to the earth. Take a deep breath. I realised my breathing was ragged, and my heart was racing. This won't do, I told myself. calm down. That's it. Focus. Relax.
For a brief moment I wondered where I was, and what time of day it was, and who was there with me, and immediately the vertigo became so bad that I thought I was going to vomit. Right. Don't worry about that now. I lay back, feeling the soft pillow under my head, smelling the freshly laundered sheets. Find your centre. Connect to the earth. Take a deep breath. Focus.
Red-hot pain shot through me as I approached the place where the core of my being had been.
"I'm empty," I heard myself say.
The world is going away, I thought. It's going away, and I can't hold on. There's nothing for me to hold on to.
I lifted my hands, and found I could see right through them. I'm empty, I thought. With nothing to hold on to, my body will dissolve.
From a great distance I could hear someone whimper. Be quiet, I told myself. It will be over soon.
A wave of relief washed over me, and I laughed. Everything will be over soon. I looked down on my hands, admiring the sparks that were dancing between my fingers. Slowly I brought my hands together, watching the fiery arc between them. I laughed again. Pretty, I thought. Pretty.
I looked down. Flames reached up to my shoulders, and my solar plexus was burning so brightly that I had to look away. Squinting I took another glance, and the next moment my eyes were burning and all I could see were the back spots dancing in front of my eyes. I can't see my feet, I thought. For some reason that struck me as hysterically funny and I began to laugh, clouds of smoky fire emanating from my mouth which made me laugh even harder.
"I'm a dragon. A big, fiery, scary dragon". I flapped my arms up and down, admiring the fiery traces they left in the air. "Look, wings. I can fly." I laughed at my own silliness, more black and orange clouds escaping from my nose and mouth. The fire scorched my lungs and for a moment I thought I would suffocate, and then I realised I felt fine. Freedom. I stretched, allowing the fire to take me up into the air, and turning to rejoice in the golden trail that I left in my wake. At last, I thought. Then all conscious thought left me and I was one with the light, dancing my eternal dance among the heavens and the stars.
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