10 June 2021

Because of a computational error, the following story from the year 2050 has appeared on your device. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Sometimes I think I never should have bought that plasma generator, but if I hadn’t, then all of this would never have been put into motion. The plasma generator was black market. That was my mistake, because black market stuff is junk. I can only say that my mind was fogged at the time. I was stepping out, declaring my love for social change and for Bradley. Bradley, he was my old boyfriend. Before that, he was a student of mine when I was allowed to teach yoga in person.

I was leading a revolution in the streets of the Port of San Francisco. That was me then. Yeah. A revolutionary out in the open.

And I was wrong. So wrong. Out in the open was wrong. That was my mistake. Yoga teaches flexibility, however. I look into myself and see what is there.

So I am angry most of the time. And why not? That plasma generator redirected my life before I was ready. Yet here I am.

Yoga was how Bradley fell in love with me. It was during the fiftieth Sun Salute. It may have been the hot sweat blurring his vision, the advancing dehydration, his burning muscles. I stood before him a goddess, telling the class to stand tall in prayer position, swan down, touch their toes, reach up, adopt Chair Pose, jump back, take Upward Dog, Downward Dog, jump to their hands, stand, and then do it again. My students followed my commands.

That was me. Power poses. A big following in the SF Port Area. Bradley wasn’t famous then. I was. After every class, they peeled themselves from the floor, rolled their mats, and gathered around me, sweaty guys, Bradley among them, and a few women, coming to me to ask questions about a pose, a sequence, or an emerging injury, but really to get the light of my eyes to fall upon them. Bradley waited with the rest of them. When our eyes met, I felt something. He asked me out for coffee. I laughed and didn’t say no.

The next day, even before we ordered, I said, I don’t date students.”

He nodded. He liked the clarity of the statement, and he had anticipated it as well. In his line of work, I later learned, people were rarely clear. Their needs, their wants, their simple statements became clouded. He was a researcher, a post-doc kind of guy. All day, he listened to fuzzy academic minds powering busy academic mouths. He had no money, just a smile that was able to get into a person’s personal energy field. And he had focus. Intensity. He could do fifty Sun Salutes and keep enough focus to fall in love with me.

The cafe we were in for our first date still had containment bubbles up from the last pandemic. The benign but ineffective District government never took them down. The streets were not cleaned on a regular basis. Voting didn’t always happen. The bubbles, though, gave us privacy. That may have been more valuable than all those other things. He was in love with me. I could see it. His hands and eyes were unsteady. But he wasn’t an idiot. He would not come out and say I love you.

Since you don’t date students, I’m going to drop your class,” he said instead. This was an easy conclusion to come to. If I didn’t date students, then he didn’t need to be a student. I’m going to start a home practice.”

And he did, and I liked that about him, the follow through. Teaching yoga, I was around flaky, undependable people who were in search of themselves 24/7 and in contrast I am strong, like an arrow shooting through the sky. My name is Shiva for a reason. I am the embodiment of grace. I will have a chance to change everything you know as your world. But not back then, not on that first date with Bradley. We were like children then.

Tell me about yourself,” I remember Bradley asked.

I am from Southern California. My parents are professional surfers.

Why are you named Shiva?”

My father picked up a book once,” I said.

He laughed. I’m going to drop your class,” he said.

I know you are,” I said. We were both innocent then. This was before we lived together, before I decided to start the housing revolution, before I bought that plasma generator that exploded all the windows in the District Building. Bradley was with me, and we were surrounded, wrist-strapped, arrested, tried, and sentenced within minutes. He was sent to Los Angeles to live for a year in a single room pod. I was sent to San Francisco to live in a pod on the water and forbidden to teach yoga for two years. My parole officer won me the right to teach online. That’s how I started to build the movement again, the one Bradley is so afraid of now. He would never admit that to you if you asked him. He is afraid of me now and the women I lead against him. He is famous now. I am strong, like an arrow shooting through the sky. My name is Shiva.

Remember me. I will change everything about your world.

Computational Error is part of a series of short-form fiction. Subscribe to get the series in order in your inbox.

(c) Lee Schneider 2023. Take care of each other. Subscribe.