Peggy Gerber

Peggy Gerber is a poet and short story writer from Northern, New Jersey. She is the 2021 winner of the Open Contract Challenge and the proud author of the poetry chapbook Stumbling in CrazyTown. Her poems and stories have appeared in many publications including Daily Science Fiction, The World of Myth Magazine, Better than Starbucks and many others.

Yoga with Clair

Claire popped open her laptop, took a deep calming breath and wiped the sweat off her brow. Every Tuesday morning Claire taught Chair Yoga to the seniors in her small town and she never knew what to expect. Her group just couldn’t get the hang of Zoom, and she was mentally preparing herself for the inevitable adventure today’s class would bring.

At precisely ten o’clock Claire opened a new session in the Zoom app and immediately noticed her first problem. Her eldest pupil, Sylvia could never get the camera angle quite right and today was no exception. The previous week Claire had stared at Sylvia’s forehead the entire hour and today the camera was focused on her ample bosom. Claire asked, “Is that you, Sylvia? Tilt the camera up so we can see your face,” but even as she said it, she knew it was hopeless.

Claire shook her head and moved her chair to the middle of the room, positioning herself so the class could see her every movement. When she was situated, she smiled brightly and said,“Good morning class and welcome to Yoga with Claire. It’s so nice to see you all today. Now, if you are ready, we’ll dive right in.”

Jean barked,” I’m ready” directly into the microphone causing Claire to jump a foot into the air.

With her heart now racing, Claire sat back down and began the class. She said,  “Ladies we are  going to start by rolling our shoulders backwards and in circles. Everybody follow me. Lift your shoulders, up and around, up and around.” The five members of her group raised and rolled their shoulders enthusiastically, especially Sylvia whose bosom heaved up and down like a basketball, until Jean blurted out, “For God’s sakes, Sylvia, tilt your camera up. Nobody wants to see that.”

Claire gave Jean a stern look as she continued, “Okay ladies now we are going to do some stretching. Do what I do. Lift your feet up until you are pressing on your toes, hold and release. Let’s do this five more times. Up on your toes and hold and release.” At the fifth release, Claire noticed that Dottie’s computer was on the move. Dottie was taking it somewhere and Claire had a very bad feeling. Just as she feared, Dottie had taken her computer into the bathroom, plopped it down on the sink and was now pulling down her pants.  Claire jumped up and bellowed, “Dottie, we can all see you. Please turn your camera off!” Dottie muttered, “Oops and disabled her camera, but not before everyone had a eyeful of her unencumbered bottom.

Jean blurted out, “For God’s sakes Dottie, turn off your camera. Nobody wants to see that.”

Claire’s right eye began to twitch as she stumbled back to her seat and raised her arms above her head. She took a breath and began swaying from right to left crooning, “Now, ladies, we are going to do some gentle exercise. Let’s sway our arms over our heads, gentle and free. Keep breathing and sway, gentle and free. Say it with me, gentle and free.”

For the next twenty minutes things proceeded smoothly and Claire was able to relax. She began a new exercise by rotating her hands in circles and instructed her class, “Okay ladies, now we are going to do some tension busting exercises. Spread your fingers and toes apart as wide as you can. Feel the tension. Now bring them back together. Spread them apart and,” before she could finish her sentence, Karen’s phone began to ring. Karen put her finger in the air and said, “I’m sorry Claire, I have to take this. It is my doctor.” Karen put her phone to her ear and blurted out, “Doctor, it burns every time I go to the bathroom. Do you think it’s a UTI?  I’ve been drinking cranberry juice just like you told me.”

Claire groaned ” Oh no!” and raced to her computer to disable Karen’s mic. She glared at Jean who shouted out, “For God’s sakes Karen, mute yourself. Nobody wants to hear that.”

Claire sat back down, gulped some water and resumed the class. Her eyes drifted to Mary, her star pupil, and she gave her a grateful smile. Mary was a model student; always on time to class, and best of all, she knew how to use her camera. Claire was still beaming at her when a sudden movement behind Mary’s chair knocked the smile right off her face. Mary’s husband had walked into the room stark naked and began doing yoga, his body parts flapping with each movement. Claire bellowed, “Mary, turn off your camera, turn off your camera.”  

A red-faced Mary shooed her husband out of the room but not before Jean yelled out, “For God’s sakes Mary, nobody wants to see that.”

Claire glanced at the clock and sighed deeply. The hour was almost over. She smiled in relief and advised her class it was time for their closing exercise. Claire began demonstrating how to take deep cleansing breaths as she  instructed her group, “Ladies, I want you to breathe in for four, hold for four and breathe out for four. We’ll do this for a total of ten times.”

When Jean finished her final breath, she began a barrage of complaints about that day’s yoga lesson. She whined, “How can I relax and enjoy my exercise when I am in a group of incompetent nincompoops?” Before Claire could say a word, the class belted out in unison, “For God’s sakes Jean, mute yourself. Nobody wants to hear that.”

Claire burst into laughter and closed her computer. Another Tuesday morning adventure.


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