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The Bridge of Deaths
By M. C. V. EGAN
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 M. C. V. EGAN
All right reserved.
Chapter OneHe perceived himself to be a sensible man. He surrounded himself with facts and numbers. Those who worked and interacted with him saw him as a levelheaded, reasonable, and credible individual. He was a man of logic and common sense. And aside from a handful of therapists, no one knew him, not wholly.
At this point in time, he had exhausted all sensible, reasonable, credible, traditional, levelheaded, common sense, and rational options to try to solve his problem. He now found himself open to the possibility of the unreasonable, incredible, irrational, implausible, and illogical. It could even be said that he was now open to the possibility of the absurd and the ridiculous.
He functioned and lived well enough. To be sure, he functioned and lived better than most. And until now, this had been acceptable, a reasonable way of living. But now this was no longer the case, and at least in part, this was due to his age. He was now past the age of thirty, and he began to have a strong desire for a family of his own. The stress of such desires could also be a contributing factor that was aggravating his problem.
His logical mind made him fully aware of one thing, and that was the type of woman he wanted to share his life with: the type of woman he pictured himself riding off into the happily-ever-after proverbial sunset with was not going to settle for "enough." It is also probably important to note here that although he did not realize it, he was by all accounts a hopeless romantic.
Now that he was an accomplished success in his chosen field and in a financially stable situation, he felt a need to fulfill other aspects of his life. As was mentioned before, like so many men past the age of thirty, he sought to find a perfect woman, a woman to share his life with. It was not a particular physical type he imagined, for he found (as most men do) all pretty women attractive. The list of requirements for the perfect woman was more along the lines of an educational and socioeconomic nature. And, of course, he required that she have mental stability.
His problems seemed, as so many things in life, not to be fair. Fortunately, he was not one to wallow in self-pity. He knew that enough effort and resources had been spent on various traditional medicines and therapies to try to solve his problem. He had also indulged in the untraditional recreational drug and alcohol escapism cure, as some do in youth. None of the aforementioned had worked, not in the long term.
He had originally sought hypnosis to learn relaxation and control techniques. The first hypnosis session taught him how to apply relaxation techniques. In that session he learned that while under hypnosis he was always ultimately in control. He quickly learned that he could choose to stop the session at any time. He could do this by simply opening his eyes.
The second session was quite a different story; it brought back his worst nightmare with such clarity that he had a strong physical reaction. He started moving his arms and legs in such a way that he unfortunately somehow hit the psychologist and gave the poor man a rather nasty black eye. The session was interrupted before he tasted the salty water of the sea, cold salty water, and saw the bridge (that part was always in his nightmare).
With an icepack held to his face, the therapist warned him that a certain door to his subconscious had been opened and that he might start having the dream more vividly than he had in the past. He could not imagine his dream to feel any more real than it already did. The therapist also stated that a problem having lasted seventeen years could hardly be solved overnight.
Inasmuch as he accepted that the therapy might work, he had begun to develop a level of distrust of his doctor. Frankly, he had developed a strong dislike for the therapist and felt that the man made him feel inferior. The doctor was pushing, trying to take him to places in his mind that he was not ready to visit. And with regard to what he saw in his dreams, the therapist had discussed certain ... beliefs he might consider as a possibility for his problems. These beliefs were such that most in a world of facts and numbers would find hard to digest.
He did realize that his first trip to Europe as a teenager with his school had been the beginning of his unpleasant dreams. The therapist called that the trigger. The problem began with nightmares, but those had grown into other problems. Aside from the trigger, the doctor also spoke of layers of trauma acquired after the trigger. These problems had created certain obstacles in his life.
At first, the transfer to London had been a feather in his cap, a desired jump in the ladder to reach his career goals. As the weeks passed and he began to feel more and more uncomfortable, he began to pinpoint that it had not been puberty, but rather the eighth grade trip to Europe (the trigger) when it all began. Here in London he felt this "problem" was interrupting the way he liked to function in his life and in his work.
This trigger, according to the therapist—the therapist he did not like—bridged who he had been(in a past life) with who he now was. This principle of past lives was not a tangible idea that he could relate to. If he needed to believe in reincarnation at all, he needed facts that made it seem plausible.
The dreams continued to haunt him. They started out in different ways but always ended the same ... the same lettering on the wings and on the side of the aircraft; the taste of salty, cold water in his mouth; the anxious feeling of loneliness and apprehension; and, these days, the inevitability of awakening to a wet bed and the frustrating and unpleasant feeling that he had no control over this.
It was his dislike for the therapist that had introduced him to past-life regression, coupled with the embarrassment about the black eye he had given said man. That made him seek elsewhere for answers on his own. He had to tackle the problem, as he had a fear of losing all that he had accomplished: the steady climb up a corporate ladder—although in his case, it was more of a fancy marble staircase. This had been accomplished through hard work and an extensive and expensive Ivy League education.
Seeking to understand past lives was the very reason he found himself in one of London's finest (if not the finest) bookstores that had survived the bad economy and competition from Amazon and other online sources. It was there at the bookstore, Foyles that he was holding a book from an impressive source, which explained why such an unlikely and illogical type of therapy might actually work.
Chapter TwoMaggie liked Foyles at Charing Cross Road and shopped there often. She had been raised with all that is unlikely, unconventional, and supernatural (perhaps even magical). When she was a child, her world was that of fairies, ghosts, wishes, and the power of crystals and planets. She was taught that answers were to be found in round circles called astrology charts and that there were many people in the world who were psychic and could foretell the future. Although that world was an appealing world, it was inevitable that Maggie, as so many teenagers do, would rebel against the beliefs she was raised with and seek other philosophies.
She experimented with various traditional religions and belief systems that existed to fill in the voids felt by those lacking any sort of faith. She found that although she liked many traditional religions and appreciated what they stood for, it was indeed Buddhism that made her feel the most complete. Maggie was for all intents and purposes an illogical, whimsical, adventuresome, and happy young woman. She slept soundly and lived a very complete life.
The philosophies of acceptance by which she lived her life made her compatible with most people. She had a nice relationship with her mother, a Danish astrologer, and her father, a successful English businessman who was happy to receive a little guidance from the planets. (If anyone objected to this, he happily pointed out that it had worked for Ronald Reagan.) Maggie often read the books her mother spoke about, and every once in a while, she even joined her mother in some new age ritual or other.
It was the excuse of searching for the perfect birthday gift for her mother that placed her at the same book section and store. From the moment she saw the tall, slender man walking down the street, she felt that she needed to follow him. This is not something she remembered ever having done before. She was pretty, and more often than not, men approached her. Experience had taught her that many men worth talking to could be shy and sometimes needed to be approached. With the confidence that is often exhibited by very pretty women, she was not deterred in the least by his surprised reaction to her smile, and so she spoke.
"So, which of the women in your life recommended that book to you? Was it your mum or your girlfriend?"
She was indeed pretty, and inasmuch as he was instantly attracted to her, it was not in a purely physical way. Someday, as their love story flourished, she would explain to him that when two souls from the past meet, they recognize each other. This happens in love stories, to parents when they first encounter the eyes of their newborn, and to friends as well as enemies.
As so many lovers do, when they first met, neither one of them spoke the absolute truth. Like so many lovers starting out a new love story, if they had known where this would lead, both of them might have run out of the bookstore. But they both chose to stay, and so on a cold winter day in January of 2010, when the world was mourning the passing of so many souls in Haiti, their love story began. He smiled back and answered her question.
"Why would it have to be a woman? Why couldn't a man recommend it?"
"Oh I see. You are an American."
"No, Canadian actually."
"Same difference. Perhaps in America or Canada, a man other than the author would recommend Many Lives, Many Masters. But here in England, well, it would have to be a girlfriend probably on her grand quest as to how you are soul mates eternally destined to be together, or maybe it would be a middle-aged mum who just discovered Brian Weiss, the author. So, it is that, or you have some sort of existential crisis that led you to find the book on your own. So, mum or girlfriend?"
"Hmmm, let me see. My mother prefers to pray and attend church. I don't have a girlfriend, and it was the medical background of the guy who wrote the book, Dr. Weiss, that impressed me. So, maybe I do fall into the existential crisis category"
Her beautiful eyes widened.
"Existential crisis it is then, but if you seek impressive credentials in past-life therapy, you might want to read this book, Other Lives, Other Selves. Tell me, what triggered your belief in past lives?"
"Belief! I would not call it belief ... possibility. I've come to realize that strange things happen."
"You know, once you read that book, you will believe. In life there are certain doorways that once you cross them, they will forever change you. And you might also resolve your existential crisis. What you will definitely find is that women love to sleep with men who search for depth through such beliefs."
So in that cold European winter when some in the world denied global warming, he lay in bed, holding her. He could not imagine a less likely place to have encountered the perfect girl, the self-help section at a bookstore. She was, by all accounts, very beautiful. Her laughter and smiley eyes were completely contagious. He was ready to settle down, and she might be the one, even if that involved accepting some very unlikely ideas that she held. There was the most extraordinary feeling of comfort in simply being with her.
Maggie had to laugh; she thought he'd be a quick and fun adventure, one that she would soon get out of her system. But this yuppie geek, as it turned out, was surprisingly special from the very first moment. This could be far more than a casual adventure.
Bill had not spoken to anyone about his problems. Not anyone other than doctors or therapists. Maggie worked counseling young kids. She was trained to ask just the right questions to make people talk. Bill was used to carefully giving only the information he wanted to give in business and in his private life. He sometimes caught himself telling Maggie much more than what he expected was safe. She thought that she knew just how to pry and could tell he was holding back; this, of course, made him all the more interesting.
Their love story grew and developed as some do. Maggie usually led and Bill followed. They enjoyed the typical things new couples enjoy, such as going to restaurants, the cinema, shops, and museums. Sometimes, if the winter weather allowed, they went for nice long walks. Before Bill met Maggie, he had spent all his time in London buried in his work, with his colleagues at the gym, or finding ways to run away from the dreams and thoughts that haunted him. He did this by playing any distracting "brain game" that helped him to forget the letters, the same five letters, on the wings and on the side of the aircraft in his nightmares.
He liked to remember how it had been the day they met there in the bookstore by the self-help and philosophy section while he had been holding the book Many Lives, Many Masters, a book that seemed sensible enough to explain past lives. (He had also noticed one discussing future lives. That seemed ridiculous, and he was wondering if in spite of Dr. Weiss's credentials, this was the right way to learn more about past-life regression therapy.) It was right at that moment that she had smiled and spoken. He liked the thought of how later that day, before they left the bookstore together, they each had purchased a book; he bought Many Lives, Many Masters, and Maggie chose the one about future lives, Same Soul, Many Bodies, the ridiculous one. They often visited Foyles on rainy days.
Maggie loved that bookstore, so it could not exactly be said that she had followed him inside. That would have been completely out of character for her. She had not only felt attracted to his physique, but also the way he moved as he walked seemed so familiar; there was a very strong force there, and there had been something she recognized.
Then he absolutely surprised her; he went to the section she had least expected "his type"—the cute, yuppie geek type—to choose: he went to her mother's favorite section, the self-help and new age philosophies section, and in his hand was one of the new age beliefs' basic books, Many Lives, Many Masters.
This was good; it could only mean that he was new to such ideas. That was an old book. It was from the 1980s. Maybe even older. It had to be that old; she remembered a copy or two in her parents' house for as long as she could remember. This guy, this conquest—Maggie, as many pretty young women do, conquered the hearts of men for sport—this conquest would be a breeze. It was then that he felt different, when he spoke and she heard his accent, an accent so familiar to her from the cinema and the telly, the accent of all the handsome men of her fantasies, an accent that made him even more appealing. Unlike the man she had just met, Maggie was very aware that she was a hopeless romantic.
Excerpted from The Bridge of Deaths by M. C. V. EGAN Copyright © 2011 by M. C. V. EGAN. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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