Hetty. The class
It was 9am and Hetty had been tempted not to open the curtains. Then she heard the car pull onto the drive. Hetty was still in her pyjamas even though her sister Claire had told her she would collect her 9.30. Claire would just have to go on her own. Hetty didn’t want to do an exercise class.
‘I knew you would not be ready,’ Claire announced as she let herself in. ‘Go and get dressed.’
‘I don’t have anything to wear,’ Hetty answered not looking at Claire, she seldom did look at anyone nowadays. Not since Fred had left her and everything else in the world came crashing round her.
‘Thought you’d say that, that’s why I came early,’ Claire said as she put a carrier bag in Hetty’s hands. ‘I went shopping, now get dressed and comb your hair.’
Hetty did as she was told, it was just easier than arguing. Her sister gentle guided her towards the bathroom. Claire was two years younger than Hetty and she had everything, a family, a husband, and a happy life. How would Claire feel if it was all taken from her and she was left with nothing. What right had Claire got to boss her about anyway? Hetty just wanted to go back to bed and stay there, but Claire had other ideas.
Half an hour later they were in Claire’s red car. Hetty had not spoken another word or looked directly at her sister. She had just allowed Claire to play mother hen. Now Hetty felt trapped in the car seat, by the seat belt and wishing she was dead. She wasn’t going to say thank you for clothes she didn’t want or for being forced out of her bed to do a class. The class turned out to be Tia chi at a local hotel’s sports centre. Claire paid and Hetty said nothing.
‘Just try,’ Claire whispered, as the class found their space and the teacher stood in front of them.
Hetty barely heard a word which was said, but she did catch if you want to sit out at anytime. Great, she thought, I’ll sit out after five minutes.
The class began, they all stood gently shaking, next they moved their arms up and down.
‘Breath in, breath out.’
The class continued. Hetty sat down.
More moves, breath in, breath out. Hetty just sat there looking at people’s feet. Most people were in soft shoes or socks. Socks of different colours red, brown, purple all being eagles, bears, and dragons. Breath in, breath out. Hetty did not even notice she was following the rhythm. She looked up, as she did Claire came to her, took her hand and gentle pulled her up.
For about a minute she just stood still, then Hetty began to follow the moves. She had to watch carefully what the teacher did. Hetty had to concentrate, concentrating on something other than her imploded world. Breath in, breath out. Hetty followed the movements and somewhere in between breaths, one of those little knots, that had tied up her mind for so long became loose, not undone but loose.
Next the class all lay down on mats in a large circle. Claire organised Hetty. The teacher told them to close their eyes and talked them through a relaxing technic. Her voice was soft and hypnotic. Hetty did not take it all in. She just floated away on a stream her hand dragging slowly in the water, as she had seen in one of those interludes between programs on the tv channel movie24.
Then it was over and they rolled up the mats. They all trooped down to the hotel cafe. Claire bought them both hot chocolates and found them seats among the other members of the Tia chi group. Hetty sat looking into her cup, not looking up. Scraps of conversation drifted into her mind and then were gone again. Claire was saying about walking the dog. She wanted to say walk the dog down by the stream, she didn’t, but maybe next time she would.
As they drove away, Claire asked, ‘Did you enjoy it?’
‘Didn’t do much,’ Hetty said as she counted the lampposts they passed.
‘Shall I pick you up next week,’
‘Would seem a shame never to wear my new clothes again,’ Hetty replied still counting.