Harold’s Clean Slate

Harold’s parents had eagerly awaited his fifth birthday since the Maude’s pregnancy test had read positive. It was the optimal time for past-life regressive hypnotherapy to determine what his past lives had been. Everyone who was anyone in this day and age had been someone famous, rich, or powerful in a past life. Their neighbors daughter had previously been a Fortune 500 CFO, Marilyn Monroe, and Cleopatra. The Litmeier’s never shut up about it. They were certain she was going to be very successful and had already pre-enrolled her at the Harvard Institute for Technology based off of her past life credentials. Maude, and Harold Sr. by proxy, just couldn’t take it if their little Harold couldn’t one up the Litmeier’s little girl.

It was with great anticipation that they made the appointment with Madame Zoltana for June 6th. Zoltana herself had been a female senator, the Queen of England, and several female pop singers. Anyone who was anyone had their hypnotherapy done by Zoltana, and the amount she charged made sure of it. On the drive there Maude couldn’t stop yammering about possible past lives that Harold Jr. might have had.

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if he were a Pope in hist past life? That would be much better than some Egyptian queen. Or he could have been Alexander the Great!”

“That’s impossible, dear,” Harold Sr. interrupted, “Our current President was confirmed to have been Alexander in his past life. Personally, I’d be happy if he were Jim  Thorpe or Muhammad Ali.”

“Regardless, I’ve got a good feeling about him. I’m certain that he’ll be the most famous little boy of his generation. I’ve already got several applications pre-filled out for the most prestigious academies in the world. All I have to do is fill in his past-life experience. I’m certain he’ll be pre-accepted.”

Harold Sr. was certain that his wife was jumping the gun on the applications. As parents you had to be open to the idea that your child’s past lives were a bunch of nobodies. Sure, there were plenty of children who had some sort of notoriety, like the Baby Brandon, who was trapped in a well, just like his past life as “Baby Jessica,” but for every one of those children there were easily fifty to a hundred children who were just a string of nobodies- fry cooks, insurance underwriters, preschool teachers, et cetera. It would certainly be a terrible blow to their status in the community, but it wouldn’t necessarily be the end of the world. All the children who had normal past lives would still go on to live fulfilling lives in normal careers, and maybe have famous children who would elevate their status in the future. It’s what had happened to his parents, after all.

As they pulled into the parking lot nerves began to twist both Maude and Harold Sr.’s stomachs in knots. Harold Jr., already a fairly quiet child, had been extra quiet the entire car ride to Madame Zoltana’s office. It was almost as if his parents excitement about the appointment had impressed a kind of solemnity on the young boy about the situation that he was entering. Maude spoke up as she got Harold Jr. out of the car.

“Now, no matter what, sweetheart, remember that mommy and daddy both love you very much. We’re certain you’ll do us proud and will have been someone very important from before you were born. Maybe a previous Dalai Lama.”

“Don’t pressure the boy, dear.”

“I’m not pressuring him. I’m just letting him know we care.”

They made their way through the sliding glass doors. Into a waiting room more austere than any hospital waiting room. Personally, Harold Sr. had been expecting something a little more New Age, beaded curtains, colorful posters under black lights and the like, but he supposed that the ascetic value suited the gravity, and the price, of bringing your child to Madame Zoltana’s. It lent the proceedings an air of officiality that some of the lower rate hypnotherapists lacked.

A short wait later and Harold Jr. was led into the back by Madame Zoltan herself, who in stark contrast with her waiting room, was bedecked in ostentatious costume jewelry, a garishly colored dress, and a silk turban. The only thing that was left was for Harold Sr. and Maude to sit in the waiting room reading the old magazines, vague brochures, and watch the hands of the clock churn forward inexorably. Maude constantly interrupted Harold’s musing and reading with exclamations of the newest deceased celebrity that she hoped their son would have been. Harold, for his part, would grunt acknowledgement and glance at the clock. It had been forty years since he had his hypnotherapy session, but he was certain their son’s session was taking much longer than his.

At the two hour mark Maude had become unguardedly optimistic. Only a person with lots of greatness could be taking so long, she asserted enthusiastically. Harold Sr. had taken to pacing nervously about the waiting room at this point.

It wasn’t until three hours after the session had begun that Harold Jr. and Madame Zoltana returned from her exam room. Madame Zoltana, for her part looked much paler, the bright colors of her garments only serving to enhance the pallor of her skin. Harold Jr. looked much the same as when he had entered, except for his silence, which hung in the air around him palpably.

“I suppose you’ll be wanting your check now, Madame Zoltana?” Harold Sr. prompted her.

“No. I’m afraid I can’t accept any form of payment,” she said, nervously toying with the CD case in her hands.

“Oh! He’s more famous than we expected!” said Maude, “Only someone with past lives of great import would not have to pay!”

“That’s…that’s not it.” Madame Zoltana said, her voice coming out a hoarse whisper. “Your son…”

Harold Sr. huffed exasperatedly, “Well? Out with Madame!”

“Your, son. He doesn’t have any past lives whatsoever. It’s all here on the tape…”

Harold Sr. and Maude could do nothing but stand in silent shock at the terrible news.


Apropos of: This Prompt

-Crouse

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