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One Hundred and Eight

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The number of the beads on his necklace, mala beads, they’re called—this is what is supposed to train his mind to be calm.


If David can keep his thoughts quiet for 108 repetitions of a mantra—just what, he is not yet sure—he is supposed to find peace. He is not yet sure if it’s even possible, for 108 is such a large number, and lately his thoughts have been getting loud, his head overpopulated to the point that he isn’t even sure he could make it past one repetition.


The thought of a quiet mind, however, of all of those new voices—there are more of them every day, now—finding silence, well, that is enough to get David to try.


He sits under the tree in their commune. It is their commune, not his— he feels the need to constantly mentally establish this. They are one. They are each other’s home in body, mind, and soul. David knows this—he has reached into each of their minds, given them permission to leave their pain behind. He has lifted it from them, instead giving them pleasure, leaving peace where they previously had none.


But where is he now?


Sitting, alone, under the tree, mala beads in hand. He doesn’t want to feel this lonely.


 The mala beads were gifted to him by Rosemary, who said she had cleansed them of her energy. He needs them more than her, now, her mind feels so empty thanks to him. Thank you, Daddy, she said. I want you to have this. She showed him how to use it properly, having him guide each bead with his right thumb, pulling the necklace towards himself until he got to the first bead once more. 108 times, she said. It’s a sacred number, it’s been referenced for thousands of years.


David felt there were thousands of him as she said it, that the energy inside him was enough to easily engulf him, swallow him whole right then and there. David took a deep breath in and held it at its peak. He looked deep into Rosemary’s eyes—dark brown and warm, and her voice was so nice. It was easy to be nice when she was speaking so nicely. David released his breath and took hold of Rosemary’s hands, allowing them to ground him. He drifted in and out of her mind as she spoke, telling him of five thousand years of culture passed down to her and now to him. Her words calmed him and he was grateful—she was giving him something, her knowledge, her culture. This girl with overprotective parents and kind older brothers. She did not live up to what they wanted her to be, but to David she is perfect. They all are perfect to him, for if they weren’t, what would he be to them?


David focused on that gratitude and filled Rosemary with a soft, dreamy feeling, just enough pleasure that maybe later that night she would want more and come seek out his company. They often did when David did that for them.


She is gone now, Rosemary, and David is alone with a task before him. He doesn’t want to be alone for this, he thinks once again, so he blinks his eyes shut and brings everyone before him.


They are sitting in a circle, all holding hands. They watch him carefully. Their minds are buzzing, active, desperate to please. Especially the younger ones, David has noticed, and the ones who come to him for comfort the most, those who find him during the nights and lie with him for an hour or two. Their minds call to him with hands outstretched, brushing the corners of his mind, begging him to turn and make them feel special. He reaches into their minds and relaxes them before he begins to speak, and he can see it in their bodies, how their eyes roll back, their posture softens. All of their tension released by him.


“Why are we here, Daddy?” Says one of those he had reached out to. Softly curled blonde hair, brown eyes, freckles. He had nicknamed her Clementine a few weeks prior, and when he said it her eyes shone. She had never been given a nickname before, she said; thank you, thank you, thank you.


David can do that, now—make eyes shine and smiles appear. In Clockworks he could do no such thing—in fact, the emotion he evoked most often was anger. Anger and fear, if he was being honest with himself now.

But that’s not what he’s supposed to be focusing on, is it? He is in the present moment, in the Now.


“I need to do something, darlings,” David says. “And it feels scary.”


“You’re scared, Daddy?” Asks Clementine.


“Yes,” David admits. “I’m scared because this is something so new. But if we all do it together, it won’t be as scary.”

Meditation is usually something done alone. Mantras are personal, oftentimes never shared. The journey one has with their mala beads is of their own. David knows all of this, and yet the voices in his head have gotten so loud today that he is worried they’re going to take him over all together. He does not want to give in to them. His mind is his own, now. Now that—


He doesn’t want to think of that name. Not here, not now. He pushes the thought away and with the last remaining ounce of his concentration he focuses on explaining the mala beads to the rest of the commune.


“So what is your mantra?” Asks Bug from across the circle, his voice as curious as it always is.


David looks to him with a soft smile.


“I wasn’t sure, but when I saw all of you here, I began to think.”


He hadn’t been thinking, not really, not on his own, but David continues to speak regardless.


“At times I feel as though I am drifting away from myself, as if my thoughts have more power over me than I do. Have any of you felt like this?”

Many nods flow across the circle.


“And I think I am speaking for all of us when I say that we all need to get out of that mentality and spend time here, in the Now.”


“Yes, Daddy,” Comes a gentle chorus.


“We also need to feel loved.” God, David needs to feel loved. He needs it with all of his soul. David feels as if he could scream right now, he is so alone and surrounded all at once. He dips into everyone’s minds and soaks up their love for him to calm the panic inside his chest, finding peace in them momentarily. He sends everyone pleasure and watches their bodies relax. Their postures slump in a wave around the circle; those whose hands David is holding momentarily tighten their grip on his in surprise before they release with a sigh.


They thank him collectively, and he soaks in their energy. He is a good person. He can see all of the good he does right in front of him.


“And we all need safety. I want to be that safety for you, but I also want you to know that you are all my safety. So here is our mantra,” David takes in another deep breath. “I am here, I am safe, I am loved.”


“Beautiful,” Says Bug. Many agree with him aloud, and all do so in their thoughts.


“So, we will say our mantra 108 times, all together. Are you ready?”


“Yes, Daddy,” They all say. “Ready, Daddy.”


And, holding hands, they begin. Deep breath in and exhaling slowly, breathing together as one being—


I am here. I am safe. I am loved.


I am here. I am safe. I am loved.


I am here. I am safe. I am loved.


Their voices fill the room, layering on top of each other with such beauty that David can barely contain himself. He feels tears prick at the corners of his eyes as he looks around the room. Everyone’s presence is filling him. The sound of each great inhale is deafening, grounding, brilliant.


Among the chorus of voices, David cannot tell which are in his mind anymore and which are of his newfound family. His mind is his own. His feelings and his perceptions are his own. He is present. He is safe. He is loved. David breathes with them, speaks with them. His strength comes from their strength, his calm from the peace they create together. And despite his fears, David finishes in one piece.


I am here. I am safe. I am loved.


106, 107, 108.