Three Lives

Servant Bells

(550 words)

“I’m a servant, milord, a maid to Sir Oswald’s household.”
“And are you happy there?” I asked.
“No, milord, cursed be the day I came into this house!”
“What do you see around you?”
“Stone flags, milord, and a great fire. There’s a kettle o’water a’heatin’ for the washing.”
“Is it the scullery?”
“Yes, milord, there be a great kitchen for the cooking.”
“Is there anyone else there?”
(subject laughs) “Yes, milord, there’s Jack, the varlet. He sits by the fire, his face red as any fox!”
“Do you like Jack?”
“Yes, milord, he’s a knave, jolly as a pie!”
“That’s good. And what about Sir Oswald.”
(subject seems nervous) “He … he, by my troth, he doth take advantage. When my lady is away, I must needs go to his chamber of a night. He maketh me unclothe myself – naked as a needle, and … and ….”
“Can’t you refuse?”
(subject appears tearful) “What wilt thou say, milord, I must needs, or I’ll be flashing my queint as a trull down in the town, a penny a time!”
“Isn’t there anyone you can talk to?”
(subject starts to cry) “No, milord, there’s none as wish to upset his Lordship!”
I place a hand on the subject’s forehead. “On the count of three, you feel completely calm and come forward in time to your next life, at roughly the same age.”
(subject nods)
“One Two Three!”
(subject looks around, smiling)
“Where are you?”
“In the children’s room, sir. I see boxes of their toys.”
“And what year is it?”
(long pause) “Good Queen Victoria reigns, … er, I’m not sure, sir.”
“What is your position?”
“Oh, I’m a nanny to two dear children, sir.”
“Where do you live?”
“Oh, I live with the family, sir, the James’s. It’s somewhere in London, near the river.”
“What age are you?”
“Eight and twenty, sir.”
“And do you like your work?”
“Mostly. The children, Jacob and Jemima, are lovely, and the master is a gent!”
“What about the mistress?”
(long pause) “Hard as nails she is, sir, always finding fault with me, especially when the master’s not around. Once I’d taken the children out, down to the pond to sail their toy yachts, and Jacob fell over and cut his knee bad. Well, it weren’t my fault, sir, but the mistress, she went mad. The master being away, she took me into her study and gave me ten strokes of her cane on my behind.” (subject begins to cry) “I couldn’t sit properly for four days, sir!”
“OK. I’m going to count down from ten, and on the count of one, you will be back in the present moment, feeling calm and happy, with full memory of this session. Do you understand?”
“Yes, sir.”
“Ten, nine, eight … two, ONE!”
(subject sits up) “That was heavy!”
“You see now. Your problem of over-dominance, especially of, er, subordinates, is linked, intrinsically, to these last two lives.”
(subject nods)
“In both cases, you were subject to sexual and physical abuse, on a regular basis.”
“Yes, it wasn’t much fun!”
“I’m going to give you some hypnotic suggestions, based on this session. They’ll help you see people for who they are, warts and all, as people, not objects or possessions to be pushed around.”
David smiles, relieved. “Thank you.”

Featured in the book and audiobook, To Cut a Short Story Short, vol. II: 88 Little Stories

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