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Fantasy Funny Historical Fiction

Saint's pits. I'm Marina again. Marina is the worst. Her tone is nasal, she can't see anything, and she seems brainless. And she lives in the medieval age, where everyone smells. Bad. They all smell terrible. Women are expected to stay home, have babies, and be boring, basically. 

I wake up in bed next to Alan, Marina’s husband. My husband. I am Mariana, or I was, centuries ago. 

It’s not that I actively remember my past lives. I have moments of Deja Vu like everyone else, but honestly, I think those are just momentarily misfiring synapsis. 

No, instead, I have the super annoying gift? Ability? Superpower? Whatever you want to call it. I go to bed in my own bed, as Krissy, and every once in a while, I wake up in one of my previous lives. 

Sometimes this can be fun. Helena lived in the west during the 1800s on a ranch with Joe, her husband. They were good teammates, and as her, I've wrangled cows, lay wrapped in Joe's arm on a pitch-black night under a sky brilliantly adorned with stars, and shot rattlesnakes for the fun of it. Being Helena makes me feel, strangely enough, alive. Even though Helena’s been dead for a long time.

Being Mary is okay too. She sailed the seas with her father in the 1700s. They were pirates by trade. As Mary, I've swum with sharks and made men walk the plank. Mary's feisty, and I never know the words that will come out of my mouth.

Josephine is almost as bad as Marina. She lived in a convent in the 1600s, and every single time I've been Josephine, I've had gruel for breakfast and bread for dinner. I sit in silence, or clean in silence, or walk the halls in silence. Sometimes I wish I could just open her mouth and scream.

But I can't. When I'm in my past lives, I'm living those past lives as they were. I'm trapped in a body just along for the ride. I can think my own thoughts, praise be, but I can’t control my body or mouth. Their lives go on as they did, and I get to watch.

That's one of my biggest problems with Marina. While Mary chops vegetables in the scullery, I use the limited field of vision to look around. I use my ears to listen. I study the scene. When she's making a man walk the plank, I watch his face, the flashes of emotions. I also watch everyone else and try to get an idea of what they are thinking. 

I use it all for research, and when I wake up the following day in my own body, I use all of it. I write realistic historical fiction because I've been in the past, and people eat it up. It's my living, my bread and butter.

But stupid Marina can't see anything. Her vision is limited to a hand's length away. Initially, I felt sorry for her, but she's just so annoying I no longer have any pity. How could I once have been her? The only thing Marina is useful for is she causes me to self-reflect. Do I sound that nasally? If I had no access to education, would I decide to be a dim-wit? 

My day as Marina drags on. She’s up early and adds wood to the fire, singeing her hair in the process. I inwardly sigh. This happens frequently. She makes porridge and feeds Snotty, Sleepy, and Brash, otherwise known as Samuel, William, and Hammish, her three boys. Alan wanders in, scratching his gut. At least, I think that's what he's scratching, and for a moment, I'm glad I can't see any closer. Snotty, Sleepy, Brash, and Gut-Scratcher leave to go do farming things, and Marina spends the day cleaning their small hovel, weeding, feeding the few scraggly hens, and generally being boring. The boys troop back in for a dinner of hearty, onion-flavored water, and Marina goes to bed, her stomach aching in hunger. 

I woke up the following day, my stomach aching as if I hadn't eaten. When this ability began, I worried I was missing actual days, but I don't. I ate dinner last night as Krissy, went to sleep, and woke up the next morning as Krissy. But somehow also spent an entire day as Marina in between.

I often wonder, when I am them, where are they? Are they there, thinking their thoughts, and I'm there too? Or do they go somewhere else?

It's weird; I'm never them as children. This ability started five years ago, and I've only ever been them at my age then and upwards. 

Three weeks pass. I wake up as Helena. “Yessss,” I say inside my mind, excited to see what Helena is up to today.

"Hello?" A voice says. I would have pooped my pants in fear if I had a body. I feel like whatever part of me is there in Helena cringes and tries to squeeze into a corner of her mind. 

“Hello?” The voice says again, and to my surprise, I recognize that nasally tone.

“Marina?” I say in shock.

There is a long pause, so long that I begin to think I imagined the entire thing. Then the voice speaks again. “Yes. This is Marina. Who is this?”

“This is Krissy,” I respond without even thinking. Then I mentally shake my mind’s head. She’s not going to know who I am. I’m the current life. 

“Oh,” she says, but in a way where there’s a ton of meaning crammed into that oh. And in a way that makes it sound like she knows exactly who I am. But that’s impossible, right?

“Do you know who I am?” I ask, stupefied by this entire situation.

"Yes," she answers simply as if that is enough of an explanation.

I feel my mind self shaking. "How do you know who I am? You're one of my past lives."

It’s like I can feel her shrug. “And you are one of my future lives.”

I'm swirling down a drain of questions and confusion. "What? How? What?" Is all I can manage to get out.

She sighs and speaks slowly as if speaking to someone very dim-witted. "You are one of my future lives. I've lived as you. So yes, I know who you are."

“I only go back to my past lives. How do you go to your future lives?” It suddenly occurs to me that Helena is a future life for Marina. How is this possible?

I feel like Marina is muttering things like slow-brained and boring under her breath, and suddenly I recognize her tone. She's talking to me the way I mentally speak to her in my head when I am her. "Do you…do you not like me?” I ask. 

Another sigh. "It's not that I don't like you…well, yes, I don't like you. You speak in such a high-pitched tone it hurts my ears. You have no regard for family or even relationships. You spend most of your time sitting in front of a box, making weird characters appear with your fingers while drinking a noxious black liquid. Your posture is horrific, and you smell. Bad."

“I don’t smell!” I squeak. Do I speak in a high-pitched tone?

“You smell of fake things. Your smell hurts my head,” she says.

My perfume. She's talking about my perfume. I shake my head in disbelief and laugh. "Your tone is nasally, and you aren't intelligent. And you smell," I retort. 

It's like she takes a step backward. Then suddenly, her voice is right next to me. "I can run a household. I hold my family together. I gave birth to three strapping boys, all still alive. Not just alive but thriving. I can make meals with whatever ingredients are available. I can make candles and embroidery to trade for things my family needs. Do not tell me I’m not intelligent.”

I recoil as if I've been slapped. I'd never stopped to consider any of those things. I thought her life must be awful because it seemed horrible to me, but to her, it was simply her life, and she was making the most of it. She saw herself as thriving in it. 

Could I say the same about my own life? She was entirely correct; I spent most days in front of a computer drinking coffee and writing. I have very few friends, I don't have a relationship with my family, and I don't even have a cat. 

If I had a body, I would be curled in the fetal position right now, rocking back and forth and contemplating my life choices. Was I so stuck in my past selves and their lives that I wasn't even living my own? 

Some part of her must sense this. It feels like she moves closer. When she speaks, her tone is softer. "It's not too late, you know. At any point in time, you can choose who you want to be. Women in your time have so much more freedoms, so much more choice." Her voice sounds slightly envious. "You can choose to live."

She's right. Imagine that, me taking advice from Marina. 

"I don't understand. This has never happened before, me being able to talk to another version of me," I say like I’m brushing off my momentary pity party and getting down to the nitty-gritty.

“Have you ever tried talking aloud before?” She asks.

No, no, I have not. I admit that to her that reluctantly. 

"Sometimes, two of us visit the same life at the same time. If you want to talk, call out. Some of the others are very fun to talk to."

I can imagine. I’d love to be able to talk to Helena. Or Abigail, or Rachel. I feel excited by all the possibilities. The possibility of talking to my past selves. The opportunity to incorporate all of this into my writing. The chance of getting a life.

“But I still don’t know how you are here or in my life. How do I get to visit future lives?”

She explains it, and it's all so simple I can't figure out how I didn't see it before.

We watch the rest of Helena's day together, sometimes talking, sometimes silent. I learn we have a lot more in common than I thought.

After a long period of silence, Helena is getting ready for bed when I speak again. "Marina? I'm sorry about what I said before."

"I am sorry for what I said, as well. You have more spunk and personality than I thought, and I look forward to seeing if your life gets more interesting." She's quiet for a moment. "And Saint's pits, at least you aren't as bad as Margaret.”

There is that. Margaret is the worst. 

June 24, 2022 17:03

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4 comments

Hope Linter
19:49 Jun 30, 2022

I enjoyed this story. I liked how Chrissy developed compassion and self awareness

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Susanne Perry
23:08 Jun 29, 2022

Enjoyed this story. An intriguing idea for a narrative and loved the twist at the end.

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Aeris Walker
23:21 Jun 28, 2022

Love your sense of humor and creative idea for this story. And I appreciated the theme of empathy that unfolds. Last line is hilarious 👏

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Amanda Fox
22:31 Jun 27, 2022

This is very fun - I was not expecting Marina to show up in Helena's mind. And Marina's comments on Krissy's life were interesting. What a fun ability to have!

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