It was through Walter that I met Mara. She was a pretty woman of average height, for an American girl, with a real cute face. Her skin had a healthy glow that survived the assault of the nicotine and booze that she kept throwing at it. She was small boned with petite hands and feet, balanced a small butt with large breasts and she kept her hair in pigtails most of the time. When she was in her sober cycle, which was most often the summertime, she would walk and run and burn off thirty pounds of grain and grape that she stored around her belly and chin through the winter months. According to Walter, she was uninhibited, happy to sunbathe, hot tub, or playfully practice yoga in the nude. She had to be careful not to burn in the sun, but her skin would darken with time and she loved the Caribbean and couldn’t understand why she was born in Michigan. She never found shame in her desires or feelings and felt pleasure and gave the same to a lucky number of men in her time, a character than was quite contrary to her mother’s.
As a youngster, Mara was forbidden, by her mother, to wash her hair except during her bath that was allowed only once per week. She would sneak into the basement, before school and before her mother got up, and wash her bangs and dry them over the heat register, tired of and hurt by the teasing delivered up from the other students at her school; afraid to death that her mother would catch her. In her preteen years, Mara brought home some pollywogs that she’d found in a nearby stream, hoping to name them and keep them as pets. Her mother, upon finding the tadpoles, tossed them into the yard, killing them. Mara’s pet cat got sick; her mother killed it rather than having to incur a veterinarian’s bill for treatment. In her teens, while making some popcorn, Mara burned it and her mother grabbed the pot off of the stove and, screaming at Mara, threw the pot at her, bouncing it off of the wall and making a mess in the kitchen that Mara had to clean up while her mother raged. In addition to her rage, Mara’s mother had assumed the values of an older generation. Beyond that generational conditioning, Mara’s mother had revealed to her, in confidence, that she’d been raped as a young woman; “offered a ride” by some guys after a dance one night. Put those things together and add in that she had been raised Catholic and it’s understandable why she held the value that sex was for procreation and definitely not for pleasure. Walter had asked Mara why her mother revealed the rape to only her, considering how harsh their relationship was.
“She wanted someone to know before she died and she didn’t feel comfortable telling Sam, and Jade had moved away.”
It’s safe to assume that Mara’s father wasn’t getting his sexual needs met and that, coupled with him being a total jerk, led to young Mara becoming the target of his frustration. In the lulls between the regular oral combat that took place between her parents, her father would remark about Mara’s body, show her porn, and offer her money for favors. Once he lifted a brick over his head and threatened to hit her with it when she irritated him. Another time he came at her with some scissors.
When she turned eighteen, after he’d been absent from her life for some years, he contacted her and asked her, “How about a date? You’re no longer jail bait.”
Later in life, when he was in his seventies, she visited him in the hospital, taking off her covering sweater because of the warmth of the room, leaving on her blouse.
“Are you stripping for me?” good old dad asked.
He offered her money if she would let him spank her, saying, “Jade let me spank her and she turned out good.”
She made a point not to see much of him, after that. As a young girl, Mara had fantasized poisoning her parents with the Deadly Nightshade that grew along their property line. She would sit on the floor in a corner of the living room, a book held in front of her face, not reading, just staring, as her parents fought.
Finally, in her late thirties, Mara left the family home, and moved a city block away to her own place. For years she had dreamed of having her own place, a place with boundaries and privacy and room for gatherings of friends away from her mother’s criticism and her brother’s lurking. Once in her home, she fell into a deeper depression and felt anxious and terribly alone. Mara’s parents, like many, expected perfection from their children. Who knows the motivation of most parents, in this regard, but for these it was more out of terror than anything else. To them, life was fragile and resources were scarce and that combination of fears reflected in every act they took. They were also, I suppose, angry at the hand that they felt life had dealt them.
Mara was deep into her depression when Walter met her. Their meeting was before he heard the call, and he sensed in her something different. When they met, Walter was damaged at least as much as most, and more than many, and this damage is, most likely, what let the light, that shined in her, pierce his soul and start his awakening. Walter’s instinct told him that he needed to know her so, at one of their business meetings, he reached across the desk and touched her hand.
A few days later, he was leaving her house after having dropped off some paperwork and he asked her, “You said you were studying some things. Do you mind my asking? What are they?”
She replied, very softly, “It’s nothing. I don’t like to talk about it.”
“No, tell me” he insisted.
“It’s just a story,” she said, and they left it at that.
People thought that Walter was a little crazy, and he was, but Mara said that he only appeared to be crazy because he had, “dark insights.” What she meant was that he had insights into the darkness that people are; he could tell what peoples’ intentions were, almost immediately upon meeting them, through his refined powers of transduction. The fact that he carried such awareness but didn’t try to change anything, with his premonitions, caused him to carry an almost constant scowl and a disbelieving look on his face. What some people saw in him was, in reality, a mirror reflecting the evil that they thought to do and, as the saying goes, “There’s a Nazi inside each of us.”
When Mara met him, she saw without seeing, beyond this quality to the other side of him. What she saw was the part that could perceive the damage being done by energy trapped inside the body of a person at an age before that person could understand and process what had happened. Up until the moment she met Walter, Mara had accepted, in full faith and without question, whatever the universe sent her way and that included accepting Walter. Then it was as if the meeting of him acted as a marker in her life, and within moments after receiving that mark, all things came together and she began to do battle with reality. Walter became a catalyst in her experience, often saying the right thing, or the wrong thing, at just the right time to push her beyond her previous limit. Sometimes Walter would recognize what he had done but, from what I know, most times it passed right by him. When I think about them, it always seems clear that Walter gave Mexico to Mara, and Mara gave Advaita to Walter. You might understand, later. Walter’s third wife, the woman before Mara, had been an unacknowledged alcoholic, as had been the woman that he’d known for the six years prior to that marriage. Part of Walter’s gift was his ability to find the ones who were damaged. He felt, without acknowledging it to himself, that he should help them, save them. Some part of him knew that someone in the equation needed saving. So, he came to Mara sensing the damage in her, himself damaged, and holding a fierce belief in kindness and an unstated need to try to heal the wounds. If only Walter had understood but, as the saying goes, all things unfold as they should, in time. As their relationship grew and Walter began to understand what Mara had led him to, he said that he couldn’t tell if she was clinically depressed or if she was treading water on the Void and she was no help in understanding because, even with her training and experience, she was in it and couldn’t, or wouldn’t, tell where she stood. All she could say was that the things that used to give her joy no longer did, that everything was flat, and that she was bored beyond tears and was beyond wanting to slit her throat. Her only remaining fixation seemed to be the Caribbean; her distractions wine, vodka, and cigarettes.
“Want some wine?” Mara asked.
They were at the lake cottage; she had forgotten her corkscrew and so she chipped away at the cork with a pair of manicure scissors until she chipped away enough to push the cork through and let the wine out. It was a slow and tedious process, like breaking out of prison. She poured some for both of them. Mara’s sexuality was intermittent as it faded, which didn’t really help Walter very much. He had switched off his desire in the final months of his final marriage and their sex, his and Mara’s, usually consisted of his going down on her.
“What are you doing?” she’d cry, with pleasure, in the first days when he’d suck on her labia.
She enjoyed that until it, too, became painful. That weekend, at the cottage, her sexuality was in an upswing. They were sitting on separate couches, looking out at the water, talking while sipping from their plastic wine glasses. Mara got up and walked around the sofa and up the four steps to the hall and into the bathroom. She was gone a few minutes and then returned bringing a pink aura with her, walking over to Walter.
“Let’s have anal sex,” Mara said, handing him a condom and some lubricant, “I love it in the ass. I used an enema and I’m clean.”
He’d never had anal sex before and the idea excited him. They stripped and dropped to the carpet, kissing and petting. She rolled him on his back while kissing him and reached her hand down to his penis, massaging it. She moved her lips from his and took his cock into her mouth and sucked. He grew hard and she pulled her face away. She opened the wrapper of the condom and slid it over his cock and then lay down on her side, her back to him, grabbing her ass cheek and spreading it away from the other one, opening herself up to him. Walter took the top off of the lube tube, put some on his fingers and rubbed it into her asshole. He grabbed his cock and moved towards her…and grew soft.
“Uhhh, sorry. Just a minute,” he said.
“Nothing. Just give me a minute.”
She was patient. She just lay there, waiting, wanting it. “Is something wrong? Don’t you want to do this?”
“I’m sorry. Yes, I do,” he said, trying to think of anything more erotic to give him back his erection.
Failing, he said, “Let’s just wait a bit and then try again, okay?”
They got up off of the floor and sat beside each other on one of the couches. They drank some wine and waited while the condom fell off of his limp dick.
She said, “That’s okay. I understand.”
At first Walter felt mad, but not at her, and then he laughed internally. “This is so stupid” he thought. What a great joke. “What could be more erotic?”
She finished her wine and moved from the couch, placing her sarong on the floor then lying down on it to nap. The weight of her milky breasts pulled her lobes outward towards each side of her body, her large pink nipples were soft and relaxed. She had been letting her pubic hair grow and it was a warm, natural strawberry blonde, in contrast to the auburn hair on her head. She had gorgeous legs. Walter liked underarms and looked at hers. He started growing hard, again. She sensed him and opened her eyes but didn’t move her body. He stood up, over her, and grasped his hard cock in his hand and stroked. She just watched him with no expression on her face. He grew harder until he came, spewing over her body, his warm semen falling on her, spotting her flawless skin. The only movement she made was to spread her legs farther apart and push her mons pubis up as she came with him. Mara closed her eyes and fell back asleep while Walter went into the bathroom and ran some hot water over a wash cloth, cleaned the lubricant from himself and then rinsed the cloth, wet it again and, taking a towel, went to Mara and cleaned her while she dozed. Kneeling there, he gently touched her with the warm, wet cloth and noticed that her fingers effused a green color, he assumed from picking basil in her garden. She smelled of nicotine. She was adding fat to her stomach and face. He wondered, again, why she wouldn’t just stop killing herself, why she couldn’t see what she was doing. He thought that she should be able to just flick a switch inside her brain and make a choice to be happy.
“Just kick off the demons that are clinging to you and move forward, be happy,” he willed.
I came to understand that as strongly as she was drawn to her needed substance; he was drawn to her in an attempt to keep her safe. I’m not sure he ever realized that. What he also didn’t realize was that, in being so obsessed with her, he was able to avoid having to stare into the eyes of the beast that stood disguised, right in front of him. It’s the same beast that stands in front of each of us.
Mara’s brother, Sam, who owned the lake cottage, had, for the first time, fallen in love and subsequently abandoned the property, letting woodpeckers drill through the exterior siding and make their home in the stud bays, allowing the weeds to grow tall in the sand leading to the water and being content to let the fallen leafs coat the cement patio and walkway. Walter had pulled the tall plants from the sand, clearing a path from the patio to the lake, winding its way past trees, the storage shed that was beginning to fall apart from having fallen off of Sam’s list, and around the fire pit to the water. They hadn’t put the dock in the water that year and the pontoon boat had remained stored in the garage. Later that day after her nap, she was on the path through the sand, walking towards the water carrying a glass of vodka and orange juice.
Walter stared after her and said, “You’ve given your flatness to me.”
“That’s okay. It’s probably a good thing.”
That day as she walked away from him and towards the water, he had looked up at the sky and the clouds and, for the first time, he saw what is always there but what most never see and what he hadn’t seen before in fifty years of looking. It took his breath away. It overwhelmed him with its magnitude. It made him weep and drop to the ground as he started to understand. Mara was floating on a rubber raft when this happened, a witness limited to her own thoughts. She stayed on the water for an hour or more before floating her way back to the shore. During that hour, Walter’s mind had stopped and his face was just as blank. Mara had beached her floaty and started her walk up to the cottage, starting to pass Walter as she got to the cement patio, intending to get a fresh drink and smoke a cigarette. She stopped walking when she saw his aura glowing yellow. She stood there, for once no longer lost from the world, worried that he might be ill, until she understood that he was just starting to get well.
“There’s a flow to it, isn’t there?” she said to Walter. He just turned his face towards hers and looked into her eyes. She patted his shoulder and resumed her mission, passing into the cottage.