Writing a novel, from geisha to herbalist

I stood at the second story window, looking out, waiting for him. It was so cold. There was no way to heat yourself this late at night. The house was made of wood and rice paper, with gaps between the slats in the walls. The freezing air hit me through the cracks. I pulled the yukata tight over my breasts. I was expected to wait. I didn’t have a choice but to wait.

All the other girls in the house were asleep. My visitor was the only one who came this late. I wore a yukata, a robe. They thought the yukata was sexy. In the corner, a plain screen. Behind the screen a bowl filled with water, for washing up. Afterwards. We were not of the highest house. Our possessions were plain. But it was a good house. We were not abused. We were well taken care of.

My mother put me here when I was 13. I had a father who adored me, and I adored him, but he died suddenly. She needed the money. My brother had to have schooling. I told myself that I would not have met Etsuko if she hadn’t put me here. I relieve myself with that thought.

If he would just come, the business would be over and I could climb into my futon and warm up. I could rest, just have some rest.

Finally, I saw him turn the corner. All the buildings were made of wood and rice paper, and all were quiet at this hour. The roads were muddy just a week ago, but the cold had hardened them and they were now easy to walk on. He came briskly toward the building. I was ready and didn’t need to do any preparation. I was expected to be ready.

I heard him at the door, heard him speak to the Mama-san, heard him climb the ladder. He opened the door to my room. He gruffly said a greeting and I, in high pitched voice, responded. “Good evening. How are you?” “I am well, and you?” He sat on the tatami. He wore a male kimono. I helped him off with his footwear. It was always this way.

He was on top of me, his weight like a resignation. I tried not to whine. This was my profession, but it still made me fuss. They did not know me, just saw the young girl with long black hair, wanted only the flesh not the soul. I mixed the whines in with fake moans, but still I could hear my discontent; I worried he could hear it, too. Nothing, though, seemed to stop them from coming back.

Afterwards, I went behind the screen. I took a towel, dipped it in the icy water, washed between my legs. The man dressed himself.

A sudden disturbance downstairs. An angry voice. Fear shot up my spine. I ran from around the screen. The man was crouched and looking at the door. The door burst open. A young man screamed, wielded a sword. Behind him and below, the other women were screaming. He was a new customer. I had been with him only twice. He was handsome, young, headstrong. Sometimes this happened. They thought they were in love with me. They knew only the flesh, and fooled themselves that it was love.

My yukata hung open. He looked from me to the man. It was too late. He scanned my body with rage, lunged forward, grabbed my hair and pushed me to my knees. He swung back his arm, and with one move, arched the sword expertly across my throat. I fell to the floor, blood flowing, arm stretched in useless pleading.

I left the body. I floated above the body. I was dead. I could think only of a few of the other girls in the house. Etsuko especially. My friend. She knew me for who I was and loved me. I loved her, too. The Mama-san ran into the room, wailed over my bleeding flesh. All I saw was the love. I knew Etsuko would have a terrible time with my death and asked the spirits to help her, to pour love into her soul. Then, I was gone.

I’ve recently discovered past-life regression. What a joy for a fiction writer to enter the soul of people from the past, to enter our other lives. I can hypnotise myself and become characters from different eras of history. I can feel the feelings, touch the surroundings, smell places I’d never be able to visit. It’s transforming my fiction and transforming my life. Here’s more.

It was medieval Eruope, the Dark Ages. I walked the narrow dirt roads, bent over, wearing black. So much anger and fighting on the streets. It scared me. I could not understand how the world had gotten so violent. I walked along the dirt roads, out of the city toward my small cottage. I tried to keep to myself.

My cottage was ramshackle, poor. Inside, herbs hung everywhere. I had a strong connection to the plants. People came to me for healings.

I had a profoud understanding of why people were sick. I understood it emotionally. It was the emotions that made them sick. But the people liked to see me administer polstices, so I did this, to reassure them, calm them..

Someone showed up with a baby, six months old. The girl had a stomach blockage and was not eating. I knew the mother was kicked in the stomach when she was pregnant. She was kicked because she couldn’t stomach how she got pregnant. I knew the child had taken this on and it resulted in a stomach blockage. I was able to unblock her.

I treated a lot of people, successfully. But at some point, someone I treated died. Men came to my cabin with torches. It was night. I opened the door and stood in the doorway. I was old and tired and used the doorframe like a crutch.

“You have killed my son,” a man said, his face lost in the darkness.

“And if your son had not visited me and had died anyway, who would have killed him then?” I asked.

I looked at the group of men. I knew the head of the group. I helped to heal his daughter. I could see he felt horrible that had to come to me like this. I recognized another man. He too was ashamed. I helped to heal his wife.

“I have no choice,” the leader of the group said. “The man has filed a complaint. We have to take you.”

We walked as a group deep into the dark woods.

I stayed in the jail a long time. By the time they had the trial, I was filthy, my hair was a mess, my clothes disasterous. This was what the people in the courtroom saw. A witch. It confirmed all of their judgments.

The Prosecuter said, pointing at me, his voice high and whiny: “She is against the church and against Jesus.”

I sat there perplexed. It was just not true. He kept hammering that I was against Jesus. All I could think was that Jesus was a healer too. I am just like Jesus. I held onto the bench because I feared I would pass out.

It was the Defense’s turn. The man was fat, bent over, his facial hair scraggly. “No,” he said. “The prosecution is wrong. She’s just a simple healer.” He pointed around the room. “Many people have been healed by her. Many of those sitting hear have known her healing.” People duck and look down, trying to avoid his finger.

The verdict was quick and sharp. They decided I was to be killed. They set a date. When the day came, they chopped my head off.

If you’re interested in past life regression, try reading Brian Weiss’ many books, from Many Lives to Many Masters to Messages of the Masters. I cannot stress enough how much it has enlivened and deepened my novels.

I’m a writing coach and offer a free initial consultation, http://www.artofstorytellingonline.com, artofstorytelling@gmail.com

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