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Story 2

Maureen Bowden

Maureen Bowden is a Liverpudlian, living with her musician husband in North Wales. She has had eighty-four poems and short stories accepted for publication by paying markets.

Silver Pen publishers nominated one of her stories for the 2015 international Pushcart Prize.

She also writes song lyrics, mostly comic political satire, set to traditional melodies. Her husband has performed these in Folk clubs throughout England and Wales. She loves her family and friends, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Shakespeare, and cats.

Searching for a soul mate is a lonely activity, but there may be cake along the way.
-
- Maureen Bowden

 Think you are the reincarnation of a famous person? Then you can sympathize with Emma.

Join her on her search for the reincarnation of her long, lost love....

 

A Lass Unparalleled

By Maureen Bowden

 

“…In thy possession lies
a lass unparalleled.”

William Shakespeare: ‘Antony and Cleopatra’; Act 5, Scene 2.

###

In a previous life Emma Gregory was Mark Antony. Now she’s twenty-one years old, a hairdresser and nail technician, and has spent ten of those years searching for Cleopatra.

     This morning, as she fed her cat, Charmian, Emma said, “I’m on the Cleo hunt again today. Wish me luck, Char.” The cat surveyed the chicken chunks in jelly, plunged her head in the trough, and ignored her.

     She caught her bus, sat on the back seat, and re-read the leaflet she’d picked up at the local library.

‘Are You Reincarnated?

So are we. Come and join us for companionship, tea and cakes.

The Previous Existence Society of Time Searchers (PESTS)

10am every Saturday

Picton Road Community Hall

Donation  £3.00’

 ###

The hall appeared no better but no worse than hundreds of others, with inadequate heating, creaking floorboards and flaking paint. Wobbly wooden chairs were arranged in a wide circle. The refreshment table stood in the middle. Emma placed a £2 coin and a pound’s worth of shrapnel in the donation box by the door, selected a chair with four serviceable legs, sat down, and waited for a miracle. A skinny young man, with shoulder-length, fair hair held in an elastic band, sat beside her. “Hi. My name’s Jake Stone. What’s yours?”

“Emma Gr -- ”.

A booming voice interrupted her. “Hello. You’re new, aren’t you?” A tall, middle-aged man, wearing a leather jacket and a cravat, loomed over her. “Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Napoleon. Welcome to the PESTS.”

Hoping to make clear her annoyance at his interruption, she said, without smiling, “Are you searching for Josephine?”

“Yes, but I’d settle for Marie Louise.”

“Sorry, but I’m neither.”

“Who are you?”

“Mark Antony.”

“But you’re a girl.”

Jake said, “Expertly spotted, your imperial majesty.”  Emma could hear the suppressed sarcasm in his voice.

Napoleon ignored him. “Won’t that be inconvenient when you find Cleopatra? Unless it’s what floats your barge, of course.”

“I’m not a lesbian, if that’s what you mean. Soul mates will always recognise each other when they meet. Gender is irrelevant.”

“Yes, of course,” he said, losing interest. “Well, good luck.” He sauntered off.

Jake said, “He’s the third Napoleon to show up this month. You were telling me your name. Emma-?”

“Gregory.” She looked around. “Are any of this lot genuine?”

He pointed to a large lady hovering around the refreshment table “Clara Bulkley, previously of ancient Greece. She’s the real deal.”

“Who’s she searching for?”

“Nobody. She’s only here for the cake.” He waved to Clara, who waved back and stuffed a vanilla slice into her mouth.

“Anyone else?”

“Yes. See the bald guy in the tracksuit? That’s Ronnie. He’s the president of the PESTS. Back in the eleventh century he was Wilfred of Penge.”

“Never heard of him.”

“Neither has anyone else. He died at Hastings alongside Harold Godwinson.”

Ronnie glanced at them across the top of the tea urn, and Jake beckoned him. He joined them, carrying a mug of tea in one hand and a plate loaded with chocolate chip cookies in the other. “Good to see you, Jake.”  He turned to Emma, “A new recruit, if I’m not mistaken.”

She introduced herself, adding, “I understand you were a comrade of King Harold.”

“Not so much a comrade as a love rival,” he said. “I wasn’t sorry when he got the arrow in the eye. Unfortunately, I got one in the neck shortly afterwards.” He offered her and Jake a chocolate chip cookie. They each took one and crunched.

“Who are you searching for?” she asked, through a mouth full of cookie crumbs.

“Edith Swan Neck. I worshipped her, but Harold was her squeeze.”

“You’re hoping she’s reincarnated and he hasn’t?”

“A man can dream.” He sighed.

Emma glanced at the room full of lonely people: some play-acting, looking for a sexual encounter with anyone who’d oblige; some deluded or curious; some reincarnated souls, longing for their mates; and some who were only there for the cake. She said to Ronnie, “I hope you all find what you need.” 

“Thank you,” he said. “I can see that you two have things to discuss, so I won’t intrude. Must circulate. Help yourselves to the refreshments.”

“Shall we?” she asked Jake.

“If you like, but I warn you, the tea tastes like cat pee.”

“Are you familiar with the taste of cat pee?”

“No, but it’s probably worse than asses’ milk, and I do have a good imagination.”

She laughed. “Oh, I know you do.”

“We could get out of here and go for a coffee instead.”

She looked into her soul mate’s eyes, and nodded. He took her hand, and the legendary lovers headed for Starbucks. 

The End

 

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