My back weighed twenty tons and was made from solid concrete. Invisible hi-tensile hawsers anchored on each shoulder blade left me contorted like a butterfly pinned in a display case, my head was brought up short by unyielding knots of restraining rope when I tipped forward. Pressure was building in the cramped, tight dorsal muscles and could only manifest itself in tension and headaches. It was time to leave the stresses of the office, take advantage of the Radisson Hotel's spa services and book a massage.
In the sterile white treatment room new-age type music tinkled pathetically from the stereo and lightly scented nightlights sat in carved crystal holders on the shelves and ledges. I lay face down on the treatment table covered from the waist down by a towel and waited for Alice to return to the room and start the massage. I knew I was going to hate her, this detestable aromatherapy drenched, alternative hippy pseudo science crap would annoy me, the appalling music would grind my patience, she would try to tell me about the healing powers of inert crystals and I would be riled. My back twitched in pre-emptive anger.
She slipped quietly back into the room, told me to place my arms by my side, dimmed the lights and started the massage.
I lost track of time after six months and fifteen seconds. Eyes closed, face pressed into towel, all I could feel were hands like steam irons smoothing warm oil into the skin of my back. Soon vision closed down, sounds became muted, I was nothing more than a field of pliant muscle and flesh being kneaded and furrowed by two, twenty, a thousand hands the size of battleships and the consistency of toffee. I tried to think, but there was no room for thoughts, as soon as they popped into existence they were squeezed out under the steady rain of pressing hands. I fell out of the world.
After three seconds and twenty years she finished, placed a warm, damp towel on my back and gently retethered my free-floating mind to the rest of my body. When I stood up for the first time my back had disappeared and in its place sat a cloud, a weightless, bright, clean confection of measureless dimensions that draped around my shoulders. Muscles tensed and relaxed smoothly, internal hydraulics unfettered by the grit of stress.
Crystals or no crystals, I'm going back for more.