The Shadow Technique

Ana stands behind the chair, just far enough back that her shadow, cast from the ceiling light, fits neatly between the chair's back legs. This is important for the process to work correctly. David sits in the chair looking forward, arms to his sides though he's unsure of what to do with them. Ana seems to have a whole ritual but for David this is proving awkward, and more so by the minute. "Try not to move OK," says Ana.

Her eyes are now tightly shut. She reaches forward with her arms, out stretching her fingers trying to touch the backs of David's ears without losing her position in the light, or her balance. The tips of her fingers just reach.

"Hey!" David shivers at the touch.

"Hold still!" comes the command.

Although David cannot see it, Ana's face is crumpled with tension and concentration, like someone trying to look into a freezing wind.

The two remain like this for what seems to David like several minutes. The tiny points of contact where Ana's fingertips meet his hears are becoming hot and tacky, and an errant itch has surfaced on the inside of his right calf, demanding attention. Finally he speaks, restricting himself to a whisper though he's not entirely sure why.

"Is it working? Do you see anything?"

Ana's breathing becomes slow and deliberate, David can feel it now on the back of his neck, but she is still silent and David begins to wonder if she heard him.

After a long moment, Ana speaks. "I . . ." she stops, and another hot breath washes over the hairs on the back of David's neck. "There's something, it's hard to see.

Readjusting her stance slightly Ana leans forward, running her fingers along the curve of David's ears. Suddenly she grasps both earlobes and pinches down with a violent twist.

David screams. It's a high pitched scream that his mind instantly registers as girly. He tries to pull forward out of Ana's reach but her grip is strong and instead she's pulled along with him. Dislodged from her careful shadow balance Ana stumbles forward, her grip on his ears released, collapsing over the back of the chair. In a last ditch effort to keep from falling her arms ring his neck.

David's shouts become a choked gurgle as Ana's arms press against his throat. He pulls her arms forward to relieve the pressure and she quickly regains her balance. Whirling around he shouts in fits and starts.

"What . . . what was that? What are you doing?" His face is red.

Ana wrestles her arm from David's grip and stands, adjusting herself into a broad smile, her hands on her hips.

"Seventeen," she says, looking at David from a rakish angle. "The number you are thinking of is seventeen."

David's angry scowl loses it's structure and melts, leaving a sort of slack confusion that only broadens Ana's smile. He blinks once, then twice, and slowly nods his head. A smile slowly creeps across his face.

"Teach me how!" shouts David, and the two switch places.