A Vertical Life

A short story
by Tantra Bensko

Kundra began eating miracles at age 13. She learned to heal then, from a distance, instantaneously, even those she never met. She wondered even if sometimes the birds that hit the window panes, which she lovingly held in her hands, had sometimes hovered between life and death until she sent them miraculous waftings of intensities of light, holding them to her heart, and then they flew away.

That was what she wanted. To fly upwards. She was not entirely a comfortable denizen of the horizontal world. Miracles were her sustenance. Keeping others alive kept her alive because otherwise, she would have languished in the world of plots and desires, the mundane material longings her friends expounded upon in their stories of wanting this and getting that, the arcing up of suspense and desire, the falling back down of satiation.

She instead flew upwards out of the illusion that we are encased in separate bodies and limited perspectives, and she stopped eating physical nourishment almost altogether. She was already very slender but became a fragile line of smoke, as food became slightly foreign to her body, and miracles more fulfilling. She ate the light of consciousness, filling herself with it, expanding past the boundaries of the flesh, her eyes upturned, her smile huge, mysterious.

She touched others with a finger pointed across space. And they felt lit up, expanded, blasted with divine love, as if they could levitate. And they shuddered.

She would often look at herself in the mirror then, puzzling about the whole idea of being alive, as she curled her red hair, trying to make it behave in the morning before school, before she took the long walk to the bus, in the harsh Indiana wind, in the dark as her ride was so long to the school, in civilization. By the time she got to school, the curls were mostly gone. She felt silly. She wanted instead to be curling the sky. She decided not to pander any more to the plot line of wanting boys to like her, and she never kissed even one boy until she went away to college.

At age nineteen, it was the commercial for a breath mint that made her decide to have sex, though she found television completely foreign. “How’s— Your– Love-life?” was the refrain she would hear on television as she walked past it. “How’s your love life??”

If I have sex, she pondered, then I can have a separate life, magical, in a red velvet room of its own, with a whole expanse of reality just around it, painted in on the fog of expectations and discernments?

So, looking at herself in the mirror, her waist a mere eighteen inches around, she would bend over and regard the line that her back made, and the way it was echoed but transformed in the lines along her front of her belly. She decided another life on top of the one she already had would be lovely to explore and create. That was the key—on TOP of her regular life. She could stack it up and see farther from it, be closer to the sun inside it. She decided to make love.

Making love was flying through the conduit of geometric shapes, tunneling through a mandala of the spine and out above her head into the sun, expanding beyond the idea of being two people, outside the idea of being in a story, but outside the idea of even humanity itself, into the glowing beating of everything itself. But she longed to find a man who would also fly out of the plot of life, and rise up with her along his own spine into the Kundalini of miracles.

It was another musical line related many years later that helped her decide to makes plans to leave that first man she had made love with, became pregnant with, and married. It was a song about dolphins and she and their son, Cody, sang together hugging each other close, he a tall six years old.

She wanted to rise up in the ocean like a dolphin, and move on to a life in which she was allowed to continue up out of the water and into the sky, good bye, good bye.

She wanted to create another life for Cody to fly to himself, a life in which one could move vertically as well as horizontally, but not as part of a plot arc, the rising and falling of desire. She wanted to fly up into the sky and catch the food of miracles with her mouth. She wanted to crack open the blue of the sky and look beyond it through the brightness of the sun, where we are told not to look directly. She wanted to go through it to the other side of the container of this reality. She wanted the next life she created for them to have no artificial boundaries at all.

She sat at night in the darkness, her pragmatic husband and trusting child asleep, and looked upwards with her eyes, behind closed lids. She would see concepts take on the forms of geometrical patterns of light and she would tunnel up through them, the euphoria of rising up through the levels of herself through her spine, and above her head, upwards and upwards, her eyes straining upwards in her head, closed, but filled with mandala tunneling, meaningful patterns of nearly as much golden light as one would see staring into the sun. This was what fed her and made her grow.

She made arrangements for how she would divide up the time with Cody. And she left to the sound of The Monkey’s “Porpoise song,” “goodbye, goodbye,” to wander the bare earth, to sleep on the red rocks, be one with them and with the lightning. To be what she thought of as a Tantric monk.

In the wilds of Arizona, she maintained the conduit between the conceptual patterns of the Kundalini, and her footsteps, her feet bare, dipping her toes into the cool water of the stream. No one was around. There was no chance for the intrusion of a plot. No action could happen horizontally. It could only go vertically, through that conduit to the larger part of her true life.

She wandered through the dry earth, the red rocky soil sparse with shrubs, and a line of trees growing by the creek. She walked towards the red cliffs, knowing where she was going. Wearing her crystals and feathers to help her be a stronger conduit, she walked towards the fountain coming straight up out of the ground.

She lifted up her skirt. And she sat on it….. She drew in the miraculous conduit of startlingly intensely pressurized water into her vagina, and astral light through it and through her whole body. She flew up through the energies of the earth as they spouted out. No one was around to see her, her bright red hair glowing against her light skin, nearly translucent body, wearing a short dress of un-dyed muslin, one shoulder without a sleeve, the bottom of the skirt torn at an angle as well. There was no man to take her on a horizontal path of desiring him, following him. She was sitting on the wet, cold power of the earth directly, flowing with it, her identification flying up and up and up, brighter and brighter. She got completely soaked.

Sometimes Kundra writes about herself in the third person.

When I, Kundra, had finished writing what you have just read, I went for a bicycle ride along the ocean, nothing like the canyons of the last scene. It was the most stringently perfect lighting for photography and I was taking photographs as I rode my thick red cruiser, a classic that perks everyone up.

We are in the present, and we see the red of the wheels we may remember from childhood. The spokes have been broken and repaired. The spokes all come out from the center. The scientists say time does too. Everything I just wrote about came from the moment of me setting on the jet of water that went into my vagina with such force, it became the center of the wheel. My past, my present, my future, all flare out of my soaking vagina being pummeled by the spring in the dry canyon. You come out of that too.

I bike along the shore trail, the fluffy sand dunes with their fur hide the sun just enough to make it take on shapes between the stems, the leaves, the fuzz, the people rolling on them.

I think again of my desire to fly through the sun beyond the sun and all the many shapes it takes cut into patterns by the tall grasses on the dunes. Some things we reject. Some things we accept. The pattern of rejection and acceptance form our signature vibration complex.

I remember a life not on Earth, of flying up and down in what seemed like water, touching against each other, all of us, all of us, one after another as our bodies touched in vertical lanes, sliding the technology of acceptance and rejection against each other. Every off and on in our psychology is encoded in our skin. Then, we read it with our eyes of light of sensations of skin. Like dolphins.

I stop to take a photograph and hear behind me a man with a voice from Columbia talking to someone, probably not– but maybe me. What he says keeps speaking to me anyway, and I have to suddenly turn and bike back to him as he stands on the wall of the beach path, at one of the high decorative juttings along its surface. He has a camera that looks more like a kaleidoscope, a telescope, outrageously powerful and long. It seems to point for centuries.

He’s talking to three young people around him, looking enthusiastically at him.“I’ve taken videos of the sunset every night for four years, right here. I changed this spot. I cleaned it up for fifteen years. It used to be all gangs. One gang for every set of steps from the walkway to the beach. I take the photos of the sun with all the shapes they take and put them one on top of the other along these scopes, see?” He holds up one see through image after another which stacked up to become a tunnel of geometrical shapes. They look like telescoped mandalas. “Then I fly through them. . . . It’s like flying through the center of time, going in all directions around me.”

He continues talking, and I grow more and more restless, as everything he expresses, one concept and feeling after another, is what I just wrote in this vertical story . . . everything I didn’t write, which is most of the story, most of what you’d really want to hear, but won’t, unless you bike past this man, yourself, and have him tell my secret story. If you want to know where he stands every night, ask, and I’ll tell you. But maybe it’s your secret story he will tell.

“I don’t like to eat,” he says, “just eat the beauty of the sun. It gives me another life, the love-life of being in love with the sun, a separate life to live inside, and I can curl up in a ball and see myself like the sun, glowing. My own sunshine fountains out of my head. See? Can you see it?” He bent his head down to show me. “Put your hand on top of it and feel it. It’s the center of time.” A dog walking past him along the walkway gets tangled up in its leash and bumps against him.

I feel like bursting because it’s so bizarre and beautiful. I can hardly contain myself that I am talking to a man speaking my own story back to me that I just wrote to you. I start to cry. I tell him why. He doesn’t seem to listen. It’s as if it happens every day that he says exactly what a passing stranger just wrote, sometimes word for word, sometimes in total order of the paragraphs, and always with the non-plot structure that goes nowhere but up, and through the sun and out the other side of all stories.

He just keeps talking and talking, almost exhaustingly so, but I keep my sparkle. The people he was originally talking to take the chance to get away from his long windedness with the accent one has to strain to hear, and from the impossibility of getting much of a word in edgewise. He says “I never read. Why bother with words when we can expand our minds and fly like the pelicans?”


Copyright © 2011 by Tantra Bensko
Story image: © Alain Lacroix, Dreamstime.com


Tantra writes: 

"I have been writing, short story by short story, a book about my life, calling myself Kundra, though I only pick certain scenes out of the whole to describe. Each story at its best has the potential to fountain the reader out of the series of stories, into the world above story, the more mystical state of joy and brilliant light. “A Vertical Life” I wrote in an attempt to begin the whole set of stories off with the autobiography of the fountain aspect itself.

I describe a life of fountaining, not too much caught up in the need for recreating the whole story, but just going with the soaring. While the rest of the stories in the collection take place chronologically, story to story, this one takes on chronology through a lifetime of non-linearity, so it falls apart when we look at the nature of time, which can be seen as coming out from the center like spokes on a wheel. The man taking special images of the sunset was real, and he truly did repeat the concepts of the story, right after I wrote them down, though I had never met him before. A garrulous man, indeed, but it was a magical convolution of time and wonder that stacked up upon itself fittingly.

To write a story like this, which doesn’t fit the formula of a plot arc or anything at all traditional, is my way of using this world to push beyond the default perceptions of it inherent in most media, and most mindsets.  This story is an example of lucid fiction, and of mystical prose, which I teach, and promote, because I feel writing and reading this kind of thing improves the world in some obscure but shining way, and I appreciate Cezanne’s Carrot for publishing it."

Tantra Bensko, MFA, is the author of chapbooks Watching the Windows Sleep, and the tiny Swinging on the Edge of Day, published by Naissance Press. Magazines have published more than 140 of her poems and short stories and a substantial number of articles, including literary theory about lucid fiction. She teaches Mystical Prose and Experimental Fiction Writing, through UCLA Extension and her own Academy online to brilliant students all around the world. She edits Exclusive Magazine and maintains a site on experimental writing. She also teaches LucidPlay, and has books and DVDs available.

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