I felt a peculiar sense of joy rising up inside of me, and giggle threatened to burst out of my throat, until they did emerge in a spectacular burst of laughter.
The class turned to look at me, a mixture of amusement, befuddlement, some smiles thrown my way, and plenty of eyebrows raised. This odd happiness was overwhelming my entire body; head thrown back, raucous laughter, one hand slapping the wooden table, and the other clutching my stomach. Tears threatened to leak out of my eyes, which were squeezed shut.
The poster child of glee – and not the club – as the instructor looked at me, too surprised to be displeased at the interruption.
“We’re glad to finally see, Ms. Rains is, for once, not under the weather,” there were a few chuckles at that, “but I’d love to know exactly what is so funny,” when I kept laughing, he sighed, “once she’s over her fit of hysteria, that is.”
At this point, most of the class had joined me, in my irrational merriment. It was a mathematics class and nothing to laugh about. Thirty more seconds in and there wasn’t a person in the room mimicking my behavior, even the teacher grinning mirthfully.
My experiment was successful. I’d been trying to prove that you could coerce people into hilarity if your own was convincing and contagious enough.
The next part was to see how people would react to a ritual I decided to perform with a bunch of other people who didn’t quite care about how they were perceived.
It was the lunch break, so everyone would be gathered in or outside the vast cafeteria. We walked towards the dead center of the cafeteria and froze in our places. A stunt like this would have my heart pumping a mile a minute any other day, but for now, a blanket of resignation, and contentment took place of nervousness.
Any folks wandering around us moved away as they realized something was happening, perhaps a flash mob. The eleven of us starting muttering underneath our breath, chanting to whatever entities we believed in today.
I murmured my own name, deciding I could only ever truly believe in myself.
One step forward and a lunge upwards; we landed in a single, rhythmic beat. We feel to our knees, hitting the floor hard, feeling the force of retaliation vibrate through our bones. Palms out, we asserted our being on the floor, with a smack that reverberated across the room. Later, I would acknowledge the complete and utter silence, but I was in too deep, feeling the unity, the rhythm, sharing something with the others who were so in sync to me, it felt as if we were all breathing at the same pace, blood flowing through us at the same rate.
We got up and repeated the same motions, until we prostrated ourselves on the floor, as if in respect and adoration of being as old as the earth, matching time and space. Intriguingly enough, stars from astronomy class rushed past my memories. So many glowing, burning orbs of light; why were there so many spheres in the universe? Was everything spherical, or linear? I didn’t have the answers, and likely never would, but it didn’t matter.
Standing up, forming a circle, and slowly going down on our knees. We were in such close proximity, shoulder to shoulder, breath coming out as one. Chants mixed into one, incoherent, yet energizing sound. We swayed side to side in sync, moving faster and faster, exchanging energy, until we stopped.
On our feet again, not completely making eye contact, but still sharing this deep, unspeakable, feeling, as if we had gone through something tremendous, inexpressible through words, together.
We dispersed, and so did the crowd.
This is the story of how we accidentally formed a cult.