Alex Patriquin

Marginalia & found poetry. Short fiction and other projects. Musings  on startups. Photos from NYC and travels.

Ahimsa

Fifth period. Used to be my favorite. Until Ms. Woodcock began making us all do yoga. Oh, brother.

We used to have recess in the parking lot. We used to play kickball. We used to split up into two teams and play rocks-paper-scissor to see who would go first.

That was before Nathan Mendleton slid into home on asphalt. Why did he do that?!??!!! I don't know. Maybe 'cause he always wanted to be team captain but Bobby Hurstweiler and Ethan Cohen always got picked instead?

His leg looked like somebody had smeared a greasy piece of pizza  from the cafeteria all over it. Like lots of red sauce.

After that we went to music room for yoga at fifth period and took laps around the school at 3:30 instead of having a normal recess like every other school in America. It was pretty lame.

Ok, sometimes it was ok. I kind of liked how everything seemed to glow a little bit after class, but in a weird good way. And one time, Ms. Woodcock bent completely over backwards so that her hands went from above her head to behind her on the ground.

Ms. Woodcock could do moves like that. She was really flexible.

Nathan tried to imitate her and totally fell on his butt once. "Wipe out!" Bobby yelled. I cracked up for the rest of class. Even Ms. Woodcock smiled and had to remind Nathan to breathe deeply and take it easy.

Bobby always rolled his eyes when Ms. Woodcock said yoga stuff. One time she said, "The first principle of yoga is Ahimsa, which means non-harmful."

It means don't hurt anybody or even wish bad stuff happens to anybody or anything. Even a bug. Which is kind of stupid I thought. Bugs are stupid! Who cares if I squashed one?

"I told my mom about Crazycock," Bobby said at lunch. "All that stuff about yoga. She was pissed. So was my dad. They're going to get her fired."

Bobby's dad is a lawyer and they are super-rich.

"Dude, that's awesome!" said Ethan. "No more yoga! We're totally going to get to play kickball again."

They were pumped up for the rest of lunch. I didn't say so but I kind of wanted to do both. Like get rid of Math class so we can do kickball *and* yoga.

On the ride home from school, I asked my Mom if she thought Ms. Woodcock was going to get fired. She looked at me in the rearview mirror and said, "What are you talking about, honey?"

I explained the situation to her. "Yoga is healthy for kids," she said. "I'm going to call Mrs. Hurstweiler tonight and get to the bottom of this."

Two days later, we had a substitute teacher in class and Bobby was bragging to everybody that his dad was going to end yoga forever.

"He's suing the school district," Mom said over dinner. She said the Hurstweilers don't understand yoga. The Hurstweilers think it’ss religious, like fake church, but it's really different.

Mom asked me if I wanted to go to Ms. Woodcock's yoga class for kids at the YMCA the next night.

"I don't know," I said. I really just wanted to play X-Box. She took me anyway. Oh, brother.

"Simon, it's so good to see you!" said Ms. Woodcock. She was really happy and she looked really tired.

We lay on backs for most of yoga class and just breathed in and out. And the end of class, we sat in cross-legged position and Ms. Woodcock asked us if any of us knew the meaning of Ahimsa.

I raised my hand and said, "Non-harmful".

"Very good, Simon!" She super smiled at me. I was awesome at yoga.

Then Ms. Woodcock said that everybody in the world is really a good person but sometimes people forget to practice Ahimsa. She said sometimes people think and do harmful things, but that we need to love these people most of all, because they're hurting on the inside and they don't know how to deal with it, so they harm others.

I thought it was a pretty good talk.

The next morning I was in the boy's bathroom washing my hands when Bobby pushed me into the sink. My head slammed into the mirror and it broke into like a thousand pieces.

I looked at Bobby in the reflection and there was Ethan and like every boy in my class behind him. Then my forehead was bleeding.

"That's what you get for going to Crazycock's yoga class!" Bobby yelled. All the boys ran out of the bathroom.

I started crying because I could feel my heart beat in my forehead. I thought I was going to die.

The substitute teacher heard what was going on and she rushed into the Boy's Room. She took me to the nurse's office down the hall. An ambulance came and took me to the hospital. The doctor put three stitches in my forehead.

Four days later, I went back to school and the principal brought me and Bobby into his office. Bobby apologized but I could tell they made him do it.

I tried to remember what Ms. Woodcock said about some people hurting inside. I told him it was ok.

On the ride home, my mom told me Bobby was going to get expelled. "It’s karma,” she said.