Days of Future Past
by Sally Smith O’Rourke
Things are not always what they seem.
Fate sometimes conspires to right a decades-old wrong. The 6.8 earthquake that strikes Southern California one warm March night is the fateful event that brings family therapist Ann Hart and trauma specialist Ted McConaughy back together.
Twenty years after his betrayal caused the cancellation of their wedding, Ted finds himself in need of Ann’s help. The intense, recurring dreams that are invading his sleep are thought to be memories of past lives. And hypnotherapy, one of Ann’s specialties, may be the cure he seeks.
Their journey defies time and reason, forcing them to re-evaluate their capacity for love and forgiveness.
Read an excerpt:
Thursday, June 19
Ted, apprehensive, acknowledged her with a simple, “Hi” as he closed the door behind him.
“You didn’t have to knock.”
“I didn’t want to interrupt anything.”
Gesturing to the conversation area, Ann asked, “Shall we sit over here?” At Ann’s request, Ted sat in a Queen Anne wing chair. “It’s a recliner, so you can relax.”
“I’m not sure relaxation is a possibility.” Before joining him, Ann locked the office door. Ted’s face brightened with mischief. “Locking the door. Are you planning to make advances?”
Ann blushed a bright red. “I just don’t want anyone barging in.”
Unable to stop grinning, Ted’s only response was a raised eyebrow and “mm.”
She hurried to the sideboard, and with her back to him asked if he wanted tea. He said yes. While she continued her preparations, a slightly awkward silence fell over the room broken after a few minutes by Ted.
“Is that lavender I smell?”
“Yes, it has calming properties.” She turned holding two china mugs.
“Calming properties, huh?” He gave her a roguish smile. “Apparently you didn’t see the study that men find the fragrance of lavender and the aroma of pumpkin pie arousing.”
Once again a blush rose in Ann’s cheeks, and she imagined a far deeper red than she would have liked as she placed the mugs on the table separating them then sat on the loveseat.
Ted reached for the delicate vessel and brought it to his lips, inhaling the fragrance of the brew. The mischievousness danced across his features. “Good thing it’s not Constant Comment.”
“It has the same spices as pumpkin pie, who knows what that might have done to me.”
As her face flushed for a third time in a matter of minutes, she pleaded, “Would you please stop? You’re making me blush.”
His smile went from playful to warm. “I see that. It’s quite fetching.”
Taking a deep breath, Ann changed the subject. “How is Sara?”
“She seems to understand my failings better than I do.”
“I noticed that.”
“Sometimes it feels like she’s the parent, and I’m the child.”
A smile lit Ann’s face. “I’m not at all surprised.”
Through a chuckle, Ted said, “No, I don’t imagine you are.”
Ann took a sip of her tea and asked, “Did you have the dreams last night?”
“Yes. It’s pretty much every night to some degree.”
“What do you mean some degree?”
“It isn’t always both dreams, it can be just one or the other, or even flashes of either or both.”
“Was last night both dreams or flashes?”
“Both dreams, entirely unedited, and I’m drained.”
“That may be a blessing.”
“If you’re tired you won’t be able to fight the hypnosis as hard.”
“You expect me to fight it?”
“Because I know you.” She put her mug down on the table. “My plan is to use self-hypnosis.”
“I don’t know anything about self-hypnosis.”
“I know. I’ll guide you, talk you through it. Eventually, you’ll be able to do it yourself. But in the meantime, I’ll lead the way.”
He smiled. “You know I’ll follow you anywhere.”
Ann blushed a very pretty pink.
“Well, according to Tom Alderman, if you know who these people are and understand them, then eventually you’ll be able to accept that they’re a part of you. It’s my job to bring them out so you can learn whatever you need to know in order to do that. I don’t understand that fully, but that’s what he said.”
“How does the regression work?”
“I contacted one of the professors who taught me hypnotherapy, and he told me that we need to take you back to your childhood and infancy, your time in utero, and then to whatever came before that.”
“I’m supposed to remember being in my mother’s womb?”
“They say everything is there somewhere. My job is to find it, whatever and wherever it is. Something else he mentioned, normally a subject won’t remember the regression, so I’m going to make the suggestion, while you’re hypnotized, that you remember everything.”
He finished his tea. “Okay, let’s do this then.”
“One more thing before we start. I thought background sound might be helpful. I have rain, ocean, and babbling brook because I know you like water.”
“You’re the one who likes moving water.”
She smiled, mostly to herself because he remembered. “But you like the ocean and rain storms.”
“I’m surprised you remember that.”
“So, have you a preference?”
“The brook would be nice.” Ann got up and turned on the CD. As she went back to the conversation area she said, “First of all, I’d like you to recline the chair.”
“Hypnosis is deep relaxation, if you’re reclined then, theoretically, relaxation will be easier.”
“You’re the boss.” He pulled the lever on the side of the chair and pushed back.
“And close your eyes.”
“Focus on your breathing and try not to think about anything.”
His shallow breathing was indicative that he wasn’t relaxing so she suggested, “Imagine black velvet, feel it, sink into the darkness, the softness. Allow it to caress you.”
She saw his smile. “You’re supposed to be thinking about velvet.”
He raised his head and looked at her. “How do you know I’m not?”
She shook her head and smiled. “You keep forgetting that I know you. Now lie back, close your eyes, and think about black velvet.”
He did as he was told.
She began, “Take a deep breath.”
He turned his head and looked over at her, a playful grin curling his lip.
“Do you want to do this or not?”
“Yes, yes. Sorry.”
Ann took a deep breath then began again. She spoke, the sound of a mountain stream under her low, even tone. “Concentrate on your breathing allowing yourself to go deeper and deeper into a relaxed state.” She paused as his breathing finally deepened. “Relax the muscles in your face. The jaw is the location of much stress and tension so concentrate on relaxing your jaw.” Ted stretched his jaw, and Ann smiled. “Neck and shoulder muscles also harbor a lot of tension, so concentrate on relaxing your neck and shoulders. Allow the muscles in your arms, hands, and fingers to loosen to the point of almost melting into the chair.” Ann waited a few moments before continuing. “Breathe deeply and relax the muscles in your back, chest, and abdomen. Keep breathing, going deeper and deeper.” After a few minutes she continued. “Allow your legs to relax completely, first your hips.” Softly and slowly she added, “Now relax the muscles in your thighs.” After a short pause, she said, “Now your knees, your calves, and feet. Go deeper and deeper into that completely relaxed state.”
The soothing tone of her voice was calming, so he was actually relaxing. His feet started to tingle and he felt himself drifting, almost floating.
“There is a light above you, and it’s going to enter your body. Allow your heart to gently pump the warm and healing light throughout your body.” She waited. “The light surrounds you now and helps you go deeper and deeper into a serene place where you are at peace.” After a few minutes she asked, “How do you feel?”
“I’m going to count backward from ten to one. As I do, you will attain a deep peace, and with each number back you will go deeper and deeper into that place of peace and tranquility.” A look of calm contentment spread across his face and she could see he was completely relaxed. “I’d like you to visualize a peaceful place, a garden perhaps.”
A knowing smile curved Ann’s bow-like mouth, although Ted didn’t see it. The Secret Garden had been one of Ann’s favorite books as a youngster, and when the film came out in the early ’90s, she and Ted fell in love with it together. “Does the garden have a wall?”
Even in his deep relaxed state he smiled. “Of course, it’s a secret garden.”
“And a hidden door?”
Seriously, Ted insisted, “It wouldn’t be a secret garden if it didn’t have a hidden door.” In a tranquil voice he added, “And it’s a wonderful weathered gate, with iron hinges and latch.” Now he got a quizzical look on his face. “There are two more doors—one is barn red and very old looking, the other is forest green.”
Ann watched his body stiffen. “What is it, Ted?”
“Just looking at the red door angers me.”
“Does the green door do the same?” She asked.
“Not anger, but overwhelming sadness. What does it mean?”
“I don’t know. Shall we proceed?”
“Where shall I begin? Which of all my important nothings shall I tell you first?” (J.A. June 15, 1808)
That I reside in the Victorian village of Monrovia, California; a mere two miles from my place of employment. A local hospital where I spend most daylight hours in the operating room as a scrub nurse.
That I am a native Californian, having been born in Glendale, and spent most of my life here with a relatively short span of years in Reno, Nevada where I attended school. Returning after graduation I have remained in sunny SoCal.
That I was widowed some time ago. That I have very domestic hobbies like sewing, cooking, baking, candy making and cake decorating. Oh, yes I write, too. Mike, my late husband and teacher, taught me that writing has to be treated like a job so every day no matter how tired I am I edit, research one or more projects and write.
That I have finished the sequel to The Man Who Loves Jane Austen with Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen; have started a story of reincarnation that takes place in Pasadena, CA and am making notes for a ghost story set in San Francisco. Three stories running around in my head and often colliding but I untangle the debris and continue on.
There you have a few of my nothings.
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