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Nan’s friend, Moira, says her New Age guru asks, “What lessons are we learning?” whenever Moira gripes about a problem. Nan wants to slap her. The guru that is. She’s never met the woman, but the second-hand question makes her growl over the checkbook. “What can you learn from a sewer pipe?” She has gotten close enough to it. Not often or long enough. But she’s paid money, lots of it, to sunburnt proxies in workboots who haven’t learned anything either, unless they’re holding out on her.

In Moira’s dream group, they ask, “Are you sure you’re looking at the right part?” There’s a bucket in Nan’s bathtub, a trench through the center of her yard and into the road. For the third time. Her new grass roots up in its straw mulch under the mounds of heavy earth. When Nan paid the last plumber, he handed her a pit, a stone, the heart of a peach. Nan thought, “This can’t be it.” It wasn’t.

Moira’s yoga instructor speaks in geometry, form, angulation. Nan isn’t sure whether the cylinder or the circle or the slanting line means the most. She doesn’t have enough eyes to watch all three at once. And she does not want to apply something as pleasant as metaphor to the task anyway. The backhoe drowns all other sounds, and dredges up what Nan would prefer to keep down.

Moira’s counselor says to her, “Tell me about your resistance to asking for support.” When Nan calls, Moira says, “I’m sorry, but my breath coach says that would not work for me in the bliss I’m in right now.” So Nan showers at the gym.

[Chrysse Everhart is currently in Hawaii, where her husband, Marc Eden, is working as a travel nurse. The couple, who have called Swannanoa home for about seven years, are often on the road through both their jobs — Everhart is an occupational therapy assistant. The Pennsylvania native has had nonfiction, fiction and poetry published in several WNC publications, and has been a featured reader with the Great Smokies Writing Program, where she has also taken frequent workshops. Everhart, a self-described “continuing guest member” of regional writers’ group Herwords, will be back in the Asheville area in May.]

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