Not One. Not Two. Not Not Two

Sparky had begun meditating really to get away from Mummy and that part wasn’t working out so well.

Mummy would pop her head into the room to see if he wanted his tea yet or would vacuum the hallway, running the Hoover into his closed door several times before moving on to do the stairs. When he’d go to the zendo to sit, she’d stop by with treats for everyone and so had become a big hit with the sensei who asked about her all the time.

Then Sparky found the perfect place.

He began “sitting” zazen in the trunk of the car, pulling the trunk almost shut and arranging himself comfortably. It was dark. It was quiet. And, somehow, this is where Mummy didn’t ever come looking for him. It was here in the dark, in the musty silence, that his monkey mind could really get to jumping. Doing just as his sensei, Mister McKinley, had counseled, Sparky watched his thoughts without attaching importance to them.

One day he climbed out of the trunk and slid quietly back into the house to find Mummy sitting on the edge of the chintz loveseat in the corner, with her hands folded and her eyes downcast. He moved carefully past her and went to get his tea. Mummy? Sitting? Well, imagine that!

After that Mummy began coming along to the zendo to sit (still bringing treats, of course). They never talked about their sitting practice and Sparky continued using the trunk of the car to sit.

After Pop had left with Miss Samples, his secretary, Mummy had had some kind of breakdown, attaching herself tightly to Sparky. It was as if she couldn’t stand being two; she needed to be one with someone. Sparky probably should have known better than to have moved back in with her at that point, but finding decent work was tough and he did feel badly for her. He thought he could move back in temporarily to save some money and, at the same time, show Mummy that being two was right and proper.

Now they weren’t one, but they weren’t two either. Sparky began waking at the same time as Mummy and, without a word, they’d have their tea and toast. Then Mummy would go into the front room and Sparky would go off to the garage to climb into the trunk of the car. After that, again without talking about it, they’d go out to do the shopping for the day, taking flowers and groceries to Aunt Priss and bringing the mail around to the twins who were up in years and didn’t get out much.

Sparky found an odd and unexpected comfort in their routine. They’d go off to sit at the zendo at the end of the day and were usually in bed before ten each night. Once Mummy came into the bathroom as Sparky was brushing his teeth and he was startled to find that he could see through his face and see Mummy’s.

This couldn’t be good.

The next morning, he went off to the garage and got into the trunk just like every other day after seeing Mummy go into the front room. The sensei had assigned them koans recently and Sparky settled into the frothy jumpy bit that always preceded calming down to contemplate his koan. He had this idea that stretching out would help. Even laying down, his mind seemed especially active this morning, so it took a while before he was aware that the car was moving.

Startled, he pushed against the trunk and found it was tightly closed.

He could hear traffic outside and tried not to panic. He really should have told Mummy about his sitting place. Well, she couldn’t be going far, so all he had to do was relax and they’d get to where they were going soon enough. Then he could pound on the trunk. He tried to go back to his koan, but the swaying and turning and starting and stopping of the car were too disorienting. He felt nauseous and the panic began to rise again. The car picked up speed. Sparky couldn’t help himself and began pounding on the trunk, shoving his feet hard against the back of the backseat. Mummy turned on the radio and drove faster. (It was….Mummy, right?)

He began yelling and kicking harder. He’d seen in TV shows that you could kick in the back seat of the car from the trunk. Mummy took a turn hard, not slowing down much at all and Sparky was tumbled away from his kicking and hit his head against the jack stand. He was dazed now and couldn’t remember which way to kick. Mummy turned up the radio and the Beatles loudly yeah yeah yeahed, almost covering the screeching of metal against metal.

Sparky was sobbing now, his throat felt raw from screaming.

This was it. He knew it; now he’d really be one and only one for all eternity. Then the car stopped. Not dramatically with squealing brakes; just a nice quiet stop. The radio was snapped off and Sparky heard the driver’s side door open and close. Would he hug his Mummy or attack her when she opened the trunk?

But he heard her walking away from the car; then there were voices that moved further away. He began to wildly kick and pound against the trunk, croaking in terror. Wait! Come back! Don’t leave me here! The voices stopped, but nothing happened. Sparky fell apart alone in the dark trunk, crying and wiping the blood out of his eyes. He must have, what?, passed out? Fallen asleep? Found enlightenment?


He felt very calm and wasn’t surprised to push at the trunk of the car and feel it open easily. It was dark, wherever he and the car were, and quiet. The trunk swung wide open and Sparky waited. Nothing. Carefully he sat up and wiped at his face. Nothing. No blood. He and the car were in the garage. Stiffly, he rose and pulled himself out of the trunk. Sparky stretched and breathed. Nothing seemed to be broken. He stumbled a little but got into the house.

It wasn’t night after all; just very dark in the garage with the lights out. He wandered around the house from room to room. He was alone. He was one. He didn’t want to be one; he wanted to find Mummy. She wasn’t in the front room or the kitchen or her room or anywhere. God, he needed a shower and something to eat. He wolfed down a sandwich in the kitchen, standing at the sink and idly not attaching importance to his racing thoughts.

His koan popped back into his thinking. Not one. Not two. Not not two. Then he thought of something and went back out to the garage. It was impossible, but then again he wasn’t not two and never had been. He wasn’t even surprised to find Mummy in the trunk of the car. She smiled up at him and he helped her out.

They went into the house and he made her some tea.

Photo by Sunilkumar Krishnamoorthy from Pexels


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