Esquire – Past Imperfect

Inside Sandra’s garden shed it was clean and airy. A single bed took up a third of the space and couple of large cushions and two straight-backed chairs filled he remainder. On the wall was a poster of the Earth pictured from orbit.



Sandra is a middle-aged housewife who regresses people back to their former lives. I lay down and she talked me through ten minutes of progressive muscle relaxation. I visualised a hallway lined with doors. Stepping through one of these doors, Sandra said, would take me to a past lifetime.  So I stood staring at my imaginary corridor. I felt a tightness in my hand as a I turned a handle.

I tried to visualise something…anything.

Images flicked through my mind like leafing through a photo album.  Unconvincing flashes of “lives” spent as organ scholar, or living in medieval villages, or event a cave. It was all very relaxing, but former lives these were not.


I found myself looking at a horse cart. I pictured myself as a Victorian youngster, collecting the coal that fell of the back of the dray.  The profits bought sweets and chewing tobacco. My home was comfortable. My father, an austere figure, worked as a clerk. But I was the family’s black sheep, always getting into scrapes. A disappointment to my father who looked upon my failures with anger and frustration – he tried to beat some discipline into me. I grew up wild. It seems I had the opportunities, but took and easier road. I found myself increasingly the wrong side of the law. I served stretches in prison. I ducked and dived, moving between petty theft and violent robbery. By my fifties, it was too late to find another way; old age brought a bitter cynicism.


I’m lying shivering in a poorhouse hospital ward. The breath rattling through my chest, my face pressed into a damp pillow.  All around me men are puking and hacking their lives up. My single blanket is clutched to me. I don’t know what’s killing me, but I can’t stop shaking.  A raw cough brings up phlegm which is sea green mottled with bright red bronchial blood.

I’m biting down hard on my bitterness to keep me alive. I’m not giving in, I’m not going quietly.


I’m floating upwards. In a way I’m disappointed when a bright ambient light surrounds me.  But I’m still carrying the mean anger of poorhouse death, and I brush aside the light’s offered comfort….

Lying on Sandra’s couch I could feel the bitterness as a tightness across my chest and a bile in my mouth.  Sandra said it was bad to die feeling like this. I didn’t care.  She asked nervously: “What would you say to the previous life if you had the chance?”

I laughed out loud: “Store the anger up and used it to get the bastards next time.”

All this bad karma is sure to get me.  I could easily get reincarnated as a cockroach, or a journalist, or something…


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