or How I Met My Wife From a Previous Life

Mallory and the Long-Suffering Stogess.
Sketches by the artist, 2020

When I attended Anglia Ruskin University (Cambridge School of Art) as a mature student doing a BA (Hons) in Fine Art, the last thing I expected was to run into someone to whom I had been married in a previous life but it happened.

Of course I appreciate that hardly anyone is going to believe me. In fact the only people who could are those who are aware that such things do happen, usually because they have experienced similar themselves.

I have been hypnotically regressed a couple of times in my life and we have all experienced dreams in which we knew our location intimately even though we couldn’t possibly because we have never been there. I even recall seeing a documentary years ago about Glastonbury in which a man clamed to have experienced several years recuperating in a hospital during the First World War. He too acknowledged that most people would consider that to be poppycock, given that he wasn’t even born then.

One day at university, I turned a corner and met a woman seated on a sofa in the Ruskin Gallery. I will not identify her save to say she was/is a tutor there but not one who ever directly taught me.

I took one look at her and it all flooded back. I stared at her for a moment before collecting myself. I greeted her and she said hello back. What little conversation we had was very short, a couple of sentences about my VR which she was too busy to view but assured me that she would like to another time. The conversation was short but she struck me as surprisingly shy and rather sweet.

So who were we?

I had a weird name which I have only ever come across once in this incarnation, pronounced Sturgess or maybe Stogess or Store Jess but the S sound at the end was almost silent.

We were in a wagon train going across the Great Plains in the US but I have a sense that we were not exploring per se. We knew exactly where we were headed but it would be a long journey and one way. We all knew one another and shared common bonds of friendship.

I had married my wife in a marriage of convenience. I think it was a case of: “You’re single. She’s single. You’re both headed the same direction so why don’t you get married? It’s not good to be alone.” Marriages in those days were more often unions of convenience than of love. Life was hard and a good wife was someone who would be a reliable and resilient partner in a hard life.

So it was that we had agreed to enter into matrimony in a frill-less ceremony, the details of which elude me. I just have a sense that it was a matter of fact, got-over-quickly, unromantic affair.

What I do know is that her name was Mally, Melly, Mallory or Melre – something along those lines – and she was a pain in the arse. We didn’t particularly hit it off and she was a nag. Nothing was ever good enough and she clearly wanted to be the one in charge. She drove me up the wall with her endless nagging.

Eventually, I got so wound up by her that I asked a friend if I could borrow his horse just so I could get away from her for a while and I rode off in a huff. I rode for ages but was never concerned about being able to find the wagons again as I knew the general direction and it would not be hard to find the tracks once I had turned back. Moreover the train had stopped and wouldn’t be going further until early morning. I must have ridden for ages, enjoying the peace and quiet away from the harridan I had married, contemplating the unwisdom of that decision and the ghastly permanence of it.

I was NOT a good horseman and at some point the horse stumbled, threw me or I perhaps I just fell. Whatever the details, the long and short of it is that I hit my head on a rock and was killed instantly. I left my body and looked down at it, a little puzzled, slightly perturbed but then a peace descended and I realised I was dead. I floated back in the direction of the wagons and saw the riderless horse instinctively making its way back to its master. That it arrived with no Stogess thereon was naturally a cause for concern and a search party was sent to find me. They gave up after a couple of days, figuring that wild animals would have got me by then. Mallory was more upset than I would have given her credit for but then she now had nothing and nobody. I have no idea what happened to her subsequently. I don’t think my body was ever discovered by anyone else either.

It was astonishing how upon bumping into this female tutor at university, it all came back in an instant. I was glad she was alright and she seemed to be doing OK for herself in this incarnation but I had no interest in striking up a conversation along the lines of: “Do you ever have dreams of being in the Old West and being called Mallory etc.?”

Why court an assertion that I must be crazy? Besides, why would I even want to talk to her at length? I had DIED because I had been so desperate to get away from her incessant nagging!!! If you had asked me before I rode off if she thought anything of me at all, I would have answered that she despised me and that I was one big disappointment to her, someone she regarded as a cross to bear. This is why I had been so surprised to see her apparently devastated when I, as an astral ghost, saw her mourning me as though she had actually cared about me.

I do not resent the fact that the wagon train moved on. They had to and it was the right decision. They left it long enough and searched long enough for there to be almost no hope remaining if any at all. I was already dead and rightly assumed to be so.

I cannot deny that it might have been very interesting to ask the tutor if she felt anything at all in the gallery when we met. She had seemed curiously shy and quite unlike her staff photo (which made her look rather stern and horribly feminist – modern and therefore best avoided.) Had she sensed anything out of the ordinary save that I stared at her when we first met? (She probably thought I was a creepy, eerie-looking, so and so who leers at women.)

It is a curious thing, this meeting someone from a previous life. She didn’t look the same, obviously, but she FELT the same, like I had known her all my life, a curious sense of belonging or familiarity. I had even felt an urge to put my arms around her, pick her up and swing her around. I think I used to do that when I lifted her down from the wagon. Good job I didn’t! That wouldn’t have ended well.

I never spoke to her again for the rest of my time at uni save one occasion when I acknowledged her as we passed each other one day in one of the corridors.

Have a good life this time round, Mallory/Mally/Melly/Melray, you nagging cow!

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Published by willmobberleyfineartist

Fine Artist: Beauty for the Sake of Beauty, Virtual Reality, 3D, Video Production, Animation, Social Comment, Books and Articles, Blog.

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