Lisa and Tom, a short story

by   ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara

The healer’s hut appeared at the edge of the woods where it had stood since she built it when still a young woman. She had walked steadfast with her guides, despite seeing her mother beaten, dragged away in chains, condemned to burn at the stake by the vicar and the entire congregation. She had never forgotten both, the terror and horror of those times when a new priest had been appointed, a “witch hunter” who declared open warfare on all the women whom he fancied were opposing him whenever they performed any kind of healing on a member of his congregation. Lisa spent much time then in the wooden jail that had no heat, one small hole to look out of, a slot under a door that was always nailed shut, to pass sustenance if and when those in charge of the “house” remembered, or cared. Thanks to superstition, Lisa was never molested by the men who periodically broke down the door of the dungeon and dragged her out for more “questioning” and serious threats. Thinking that her life was forfeit in any case, Lisa did not respond to the questioning, the intimidation and the whippings. All they heard were moans and sometimes cries.

Then, it all changed. There was a King again and the rebels were defeated and mostly slaughtered. The vicar was publicly hanged when it was discovered he did not hold a proper license. All the healers were set free to fend for themselves at that time. So Lisa went back where she had been raised. Her mother’s house had been ransacked, then burned down. With the help of a neighbour who limped badly from a war injury and needed her services, she built herself a comfortable hut. When it was done to her satisfaction, just before she moved anything in from the near-by tent the neighbour had loaned her, she knelt reverently and remembered her mother’s love an dedication in a long prayer of thanksgiving. Then, in the presence of her guides and the friendly neighbour as her sole human witness, she vowed to give her life to service of the village, yes, the same people who ten years earlier had tortured her mother to death and kept her in a dungeon for close to ten years.

Lisa’s method to deal with the past was to plant lavender around the hut and the path leading to the meadow.

Old Cruickshanks, the friendly neighbour was long dead now. The old white-haired man walking so steadily and deliberately towards Lisa’s hut was none other than his eldest son, Tom. Tom had always “had a feeling” for Lisa, not surprisingly for in her youth she was a lovely girl, something that aroused even more jealousy among the females of the village. But of course, Tom’s love was not just for her beauty; he loved her. He knew, of course, of her vow, and had talked much about it at the beginning of her new life at the edge of the woods. Many a time he’d had opportunity after he drove her via the farm’s surrey, into the village, now more of a town, so she could minister in whatever capacity.

Youth is callous, and demanding. Tom did not want to be, but he had needs. Lisa was well acquainted with those needs even though she remained steadfastly a virgin.

“We could be married, Lisa, there is nothing in God’s law or the King’s law that prevails against it, only your choice. Is that not so?”

She would pull away from him a bit then, bringing her hands demurely to her lap, picking at a button on her light blue coat. “I’m sorry to hurt you Tom. You are a kind, decent, caring man which any woman would be honoured to have, but you see, marriage is not for me. I am truly sorry, but I cannot, ever, break my vow. My gift is dependent upon the vow of chastity, you must understand. I’m not being difficult, and I am very aware that I owe you so much for all that you have done for me over the years, but I can only reciprocate with as much care and kindness as I know how. I have no such love for you, Tom as you have for me. When I made my vow, lo those many years past, the desire for connubial bliss and a family of my own was taken from me. When you look upon me as a woman, you are looking at nothing more than a shell. Do not be distracted by this…” and she pointed to herself as they trotted along. Tom hid his tears as best he could, not wanting to add more injury to a pain-filled episode.

So it went through the years. Tom stopped importuning Lisa and made a vow of his own: he too would never marry. The farm would go to his nephew with a legal stipulation that his brother and his wife could live out their days on the farm, if they so chose. Tom was surprised how his choice gradually made his heart so much lighter. The years passed by fast then. He and Lisa grew older and white haired, and anyone not familiar with their story would have naturally assumed they were brother and sister, so much alike they were in being soft spoken and kind to all.

“I am getting older, Tom, and my young days were not easy. This body is hampered greatly by what was done to it. Then there’s the dampness too. But mostly, mostly, my friend, I am very tired these days. There is a powerful pull in my heart, whether from God or some other beings whom I once called my guides, but I am being called home, Tom. I needed to tell you so you would not be devastated when it happens.”

She had stopped talking that day and had turned to look over the small meadow to the north. Then she had turned her face to the cloudy skies and he saw there the deep grey distant look in her eyes. He knew she was seeing something he could never see. Something that was hers alone. Then she had started crying. That was such a rare event in Lisa’s life he was taken completely unawares, not knowing what to do. He did not want to violate any boundary between them by touching her or holding her, but he wanted her to know he was trying to share her sorrow. Then suddenly he just knew. “I understand” was all he said, or needed to say, and the tears stopped as suddenly as they had come. Lisa smiled.

As he neared the hut, now a bit more of a cottage, he smelled the crushed lavender. He stopped at the door, waited a couple of minutes, then turned around back to the farm for the wagon and a shovel.

22 thoughts on “Lisa and Tom, a short story

  1. Lisa R. Palmer

    Mesmerizing, Sha’Tara! Memorable and lyrical. Almost haunting. This one will stay with me for a while, I’m sure. So much love and compassion expressed in a very human story; that dichotomy is… [hmm, I have no word to finish that sentence. Interesting.]

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      These short stories I write about past events, however fictionalized, are not fiction as people think of it. They are remembrances, though not necessarily mine. My mind, (perhaps every mind, I don’t know) is mostly occupied by what I know as “me” but it has areas allocated for interaction with “partials” or other minds. When I wrote this story, I distinctly heard “Lisa” and I did think of you. I’ll say this, if this “fits” you, you can claim it as something to work from. You have the name, you can claim the game! Up to you and anyone who is not an evil entity can share space in my partials directory! Meanwhile, thank you for that lovely comment.

      1. Lisa R. Palmer

        You know, I did wonder here, as I have distinct memories of having watched someone I loved being dragged away, tortured and burned, while I, myself was imprisoned. I also recall a vow of chastity, of love experienced, but not consummated on a carnal level, of having lived “in service” to atone for my release…

        I have carried much “guilt” through many lives, remembering that one. Perhaps this story is mine, or resonates so closely that it brings it home to me again…

      2. Sha'Tara Post author

        Sometimes, rather than sit on the fence and continue to ponder, pro-con, you just need to own it. I don’t believe in coincidences myself and when so many personal memories are stirred, obviously there is something there. The main aspect is, can you benefit from owning this story? Can it help you with self-empowerment, validation, understanding and compassion? If it does, it’s yours, no doubt. I won’t speculate beyond this, the rest is up to you.

      3. Lisa R. Palmer

        I actually started remembering this other life (and some others that were affected by it) last summer, and my focus was on forgiving myself. I always felt like I had somehow betrayed that other woman by not dying myself, though rationally I understood there was nothing to be gained by doing so. I didn’t need to be a martyr. I chose to live at that time, to serve rather than die, but I also chose suffering as my atonement. It is that aspect of the story I’ve been trying to own and release since the memories came back in force, as more than vague hauntings or emotional reactions to familiar settings…

        Your story is painted with such gentleness that “forgiveness” (of my self) seems almost mandatory, or automatic. There is nothing remotely “evil” or “selfish” in the character you created; it all looks so different through your perceptions. I can’t stop crying, but they are cleansing tears, I think…

        Thank you, Sha’Tara, for the “gift” of this story, and for the healing it summons from within. That one story has biased so many of my lifetimes… it has long been necessary to let it go. Perhaps now I can…

      1. Woebegone but Hopeful

        Aww shucks m’am, thanks… T’ant that good 🙂

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thank you for commenting here, Clarissa. When I delve in past lives memories, or as I call them, remembrances, I often come across the truly strong women (and some men also, of course) who faced the worse the Matrix could throw at them without actually killing them, survived, and realized their ordeal had opened their heart’s path to compassion.

  2. katharineotto

    An evocative story that does sound like a past life memory. I, too, have a presumably past life memory of being almost burned at the stake as a witch, because I practiced healing arts and spurned the advances of the town preacher. And, the godly women of the town were jealous, of course. The preacher’s child saved me, because I had healed her with my potions. I should write it up someday.

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      I think you should definitely write it up, and share it, if it isn’t too painful a remembrance: some are just too difficult… This “short story” I wrote is not a past life memory of mine but someone else, someone I believe is a follower of this blog. It’s how it works, some are ours, some are someone else’s. It’s a form of channeling. I have one of my own similar to yours, only my punishment was to be hanged instead of the usual burning alive at the stake, and the reason was that my “art” had saved a prominent town citizen in the days when my work was not yet proscribed by the church. Thus the judges considered themselves lenient. I had a 12 year old son when I was arrested and never saw him again. I also had a piece of land an importuning neighbour coveted and I know that had much to do with my arrest and conviction: he’d get my land for turning in a witch. It’s a long story, perhaps only too well remembered and I too should probably write it up here. It remains shocking to me to know that millions of women were thus killed by the Oh, So Holy Church for practicing healing arts, said skills to have been granted of the Devil. If that were the case, wouldn’t it make one wonder who was the evil dude and the good one in these church scenarios? Gotta stop here, getting wound up again and I feel a mind hurricane rising…

      1. katharineotto

        Collections of past life memories would make a good book. Who cares if they are “real” or provable? They evoke emotions that were appropriate to the times and bleed though to this life, even if they are only imaginary.

      2. Sha'Tara Post author

        Which begs the question: what is “imaginary”? The Teachers, highly evolved beings, taught me to look at life this way: nothing is impossible. Believe all things, believe in nothing. If you can image it, imagine it, picture it, think it, say it, write it, then it exists. You may have created it but most likely you saw it in your dreams and recalled it. A person familiar with past lives and their memories or remembrances stops questioning the fiction or non aspect. If I remember it as mine, I lived it. If I remember it as a story, such as this one, then it is someone else’s story. What it never is, is fictional or imaginary, i.e., non existent. That would be an impossibility.

      3. katharineotto

        I agree with everything you say above. I use the word “imaginary” simply to deflect potential claims that my beliefs are impossible to “prove” in scientific “reality.” But if you can imagine or believe anything, it becomes real on some level.

      4. Sha'Tara Post author

        Logically yes, every “thing” is real. We could not express any “thing” unreal. As my Teacher YLea pointed out time and again, nothing is impossible. That is a play on the words no (and) thing. Another way of looking at it is, it is impossible for there to be (to exist) nothing. It has to be some thing. If I were to say, “There is nothing there” I would be lying. “There” would be there. There is something. I could go on with this forever. The insistence of empirical evidence is a trick academic “scientists” use to hide behind and protect their theories. It’s no different than those people who use quantitative data to prove whatever it is they wish to prove. That is also why logic is no longer taught as it would upset the “quanta” world by taking us beyond even the smallest measurable physical quantity. Science fears any non-quantifiable reality. I thrill at all such realities.

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