The Brooch and the Carriage House
Haunting memories of a distant past have a way of returning when least expected, tearing apart the joys and dreams of a young woman named Eilley Ainsley. This is her story:
Eilley had just returned from a visit with her psychologist, Bryan Ames. It was a particularly difficult session. Her short reddish blonde hair was a mass of tight curls from perspiring. Bryan had hypnotized her to see if he could find the source of Eilley’s fears and bad dreams that left her depressed and unable to function for a day or two afterwards. He had tried this before without much success, for there was a point Eilley became so frightened he had to gently pull her out of the induced state of mind. She could never remember where her memories were leading her, nor could she remember the bad dreams that left her shaking with fear. She often saw a brooch, either in her dreams or in flash visions and it disturbed her.
Bryan had to keep Eilley in his office for almost an hour after the session. He wanted to make sure she was calm enough to leave and drive home safely. He asked her to please call him when she got home. Eilley parked in back of her home, near the old carriage house she had renovated for her studio. She was an artist and an author of several novels. She loved the old house and the carriage house, which she inherited. It had been in her family for over a century.
She went into the studio and picked up the phone to call Bryan. When he answered, he said, “What are you doing?” Eilley jumped when she heard those words. She looked up and in her mind saw the loft above her. She began screaming and dropped the phone. She was no longer in the present, but thrown back into another life.
She was in the carriage house dressed in a long dark dress with a high collar and a large ivory cameo brooch on a maroon background at the neck. Her long black hair was twisted into a loose bun in the back. She rarely entered the carriage house, but was suspicious of her husband’s actions the evening before. He had gone to the carriage house with some excuse, saying he had to check something. A few minutes later, up in her bedroom, she looked out the window to see if he was coming back. She saw her child’s nanny running to the carriage house.
Her husband did not return for over an hour. She lay in bed, pretending to be asleep. When he got in bed she could hear him breathing hard and knew he was shaking nervously. In the morning, after he had left for his office she went to the nursery to confront the nanny. The housekeeper was there taking care of the child and told her the nanny had not come to the nursery yet and the child was crying.
She went to the nanny’s room and saw the bed had not been slept in. She went down and out to the carriage house. There was no one there and she looked at the stairs to the loft. When she got up there she saw a bed with something on it, covered by a blanket. She slowly walked over and lifted the blanket. The nanny was dead. She began screaming then was suddenly grabbed from behind, a hand slapped over her mouth. Her husband yelled, “What are you doing?” She tried to turn to look at him, but he kept her tight in his arms and whispered, “I had to kill her. She was going to tell you of our affair unless I paid her a lot of money. I could no longer trust her, so I killed her.” He was breathing hard and threw her down on the bed. He ripped the brooch from her neck and tore her clothing off. She saw the nanny’s face staring at her as her maniacal husband brutally beat then killed her.
Bryan ran into the carriage house and grabbed Eilley. “Eilley, Eilley! Come back! Eilley! It’s okay, you are okay. Come back, Eilley.” He kept gently calling her till she came back to the present. He turned her around to face him and shook her gently. “Bryan?” She fainted and Bryan carried her into the house and through the kitchen, calling to the cook . “Bring some cold water and a towel!” He lay Eilley on a sofa in the den and kept bathing her face in cold water.
When she came to she began shaking uncontrollably and tried to sit up. She was terrified. He put his hands on her shoulders. “Eilley, it’s Bryan. Talk to me, Eilley,” He kept brushing her hair back off her forehead, repeating her name till her eyes focused on him. “Talk to me, Eilley.”
Eilley remembered everything and related the story to Bryan. He told her he had said, “What are you doing!” on the phone because she repeated that a few times in her hypnotized session and that is when she became frightened and shut down. He had hoped those words would trigger something and it did but she had to be in the right place when it happened. Right after Eilley had left his office, which was just a few minutes away, he called Eilley’s cook and told her to keep a close eye on Eilley and do not touch her unless she tried to harm herself. When he heard her screaming on the phone he quickly drove over. He saw the cook and her husband in the carriage house watching Eilley scream. The cook was silently crying as she stared in shock. Eilley was unaware of their presence.
When Eilley told the story she kept reaching up to her neck. Bryan asked her why she often did that. “I had a large ivory cameo brooch on a maroon background at my neck. It was very special to me … to her … me?” she looked at Bryan for reassurance. “It was a past life, Eilley. A terrifying experience that has stayed buried deep in your subconscious till today. This often happens when a person has died violently in a previous life. I wondered why you often put your hand up to your neck. Maybe it was the brooch you loved so much in that life?” From habit she put her hand at her neck. “Maybe. I guess so. For the brooch to stand out so strong in the memory it must have been very special to me.”
Bryan asked her if she wanted to go to the carriage house and up to the loft. “No!” She shrank back in fear. “I have always been afraid to go up there and had a door installed at the bottom of the stairs and kept it locked. Now I know why. I thought it was because I had a childish fear of attics.” Bryan gazed out the window. “Eilley, I think it might help you more if you go up there. I will go with you. And you will see there is nothing there to harm you. What happened in the past is gone now. It is all gone and you are safe.”
Eilley asked for some coffee and the cook ran to the kitchen. She brought back a tray with a pot of coffee and cups. They drank their coffee in silence, Bryan sensing that Eilley was in deep thought. Finally she spoke. “I wonder what happened to that brooch?” She stood up and told Bryan she would go up to the loft with him and asked the cook to get the key from her husband, who was the caretaker of the grounds.
Eilley looked around the loft, staying close to Bryan. There was nothing there, just a large empty room. In a dark corner was a big spider web which caught Bryan’s eye. There was something white in it on the floor. He walked over and picked it up. It was covered in dust. He brushed it off and stared at a large ivory cameo brooch on a maroon background. Eilley gasped, “The brooch!” Bryan handed it to her. “I think she is now at peace. She wanted the brooch to be found,” she stared at Bryan with tears in her eyes. He hugged her then they went back to the house.
© 2017 Phyllis Doyle Burns