The Workshop

Nikki stood at around twenty-five past twelve in the circle. That is if you took Patricia, who was leading the group, to be 12 o’clock and everyone else to be the numbers and times that followed her. And Nikki did.

Twenty-five past twelve, she thought. It was a good place to stand because she was more or less facing Patricia and she could see every movement, which meant she could follow her better. Nikki wouldn’t want to be five past or ten too, those were poor places to stand in the circle.

“Now, imagine there is a circle all around you.” Patricia said.

Interesting, Nikki thought. Not only were they standing in a circle, but they were to imagine another circle swirled around their own bodies, individually.

“And now reach out with the fingertips of one hand to touch any point in that circle.” Patricia continued.

Nikki reached her fingers out towards ten past twelve. She hadn’t consciously thought about it, but if you were reaching, well you could hardly ‘reach’ to twenty to, not really, not fully. Or maybe that was the point. Maybe that was what Patricia wanted. Perhaps they were supposed to find awkward points in their circle to reach to. Not so obvious. Not like Nikki. She had always been obvious, she thought. That was probably why she was here.

“And then let your body find that ‘at ease’ place again and really feel every part of your body relax.”


Nikki let her arms fall to her sides. It was self-exploration. That was the workshop. That was Nikki’s latest thing. Self-exploration. Trying desperately, through any avenue, to find herself. Because really, who was she? Who was Nikki?

“Now I want you to move as little as possible.” Patricia said. “And think about your internal organs, and I want you to pick a point on your circle and reach out to it with your liver, or your stomach, or your spleen.”

Nikki hesitated. She didn’t think she even knew where her spleen was. She looked around her. Everyone else seemed to be doing it. The man at quarter to was moving his left hip ever so slightly and had a strange thoughtful look on his face. The older woman at ten past was concentrating hard and seemed to be moving her right breast only. But Nikki was lost when it came to reaching out with an internal organ.

She had only moved her head a fraction when the view outside the window caught her eye. The cityscape quivered in the rumbling sky, and down beyond the university building Nikki could see the newly built amphitheater with the circle of grass within it. Beautiful mounds of gold green. Circles within a circle. It was then that Nikki located her spleen. She picked out a point in the grassy circle at around three minutes to twelve. A real reach. And without moving her body at all she thrust her spleen forward towards the perfect green horizon.

Oh Patricia was good, Nikki thought. In all the classes and session and workshops she’d taken, this was the first time she’d ever found any part of herself.

Samantha Priestley is the author of the Folded Word short-fiction chapbooks Dreamers (2014) and Orange Balloon (2016). She’s a novelist, playwright, and essayist who spins words into gold from her home in Sheffield, UK.

To read the first page of Orange Balloon, see a sample illustration, or purchase direct, please visit our shop:

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