Because of his illness he used to have a regular massage to his back. It soothed and cleared away the accumulated aches that built up over time. There was a ritual to it that was quite predictable. After getting off the bus beside the bank he walked a few yards, past the bread shop and then through a glass door with small hand written ads seeking child care or offering yoga courses etc. Once inside there was a smell of incense and a room full of New Age clothes, jewelry and the like. He nodded to the shop assistant and went to the back of the shop to find Martha. Who was an angel, at least in his eyes and she could do no wrong. She gave him a quick peck on the cheek and showed him to the massage room. This room had ambiance. Dim lighting, meditation music, and of course the couch in the centre. He quickly stripped off to his shorts and lay on the couch, covering himself with the towel. Face down he could see through the hole in the couch that there was a new plant, a beautiful pink orchid and he lost himself in the music.
Martha entered silently and rubbed her hands with the warm almond oil from the bottle on the heater. He hardly felt them as she started to massage his back. Small tentative circles to start with as if asking what he wanted today? Not a word was ever spoken. Today the sound track was of waves on the seashore, encouraging total relaxation and an imaginary hot sun beating down. The hands had received the answer. Today it would be long smooth strokes up and down his entire back with hardly a pause and Martha became quite breathless and pink but she continued except for when she stopped to add more oil. He lay face down feeling the strong smooth regular movements pummeling his back and working out all the accumulated cares. He was miles away on the beach beneath the tropical sun. It was a timeless moment for them both. Martha gradually slowed her hands and moved up to his neck. Her breathing slowed and she shook herself a little and she closed her eyes. She knew his body so well she did not need to look at what she saw in her dreams. Now her rippling fingers probed the muscles of his neck, splitting them apart and making them move once more. Then just to finish off she gave his head a gentle massage, just brushing her lips with his hair as she finished. But he never knew. She covered him with the towel and left him lying on the couch. Eventually he emerged from his reverie and dressed slowly, lingering to make the moment last. Usually when he emerged Martha had gone so he paid the assistant and emerged onto the busy noisy roadway full of bustle and traffic fumes.