Contest #140 winner 🏆

150 comments

Fiction

Can you hear me?


I remember being reborn a thousand times.


In the between-times, and at the very start and end of a life, the memories are strong. I remember the warmth of the sun on my crumpled wings as they unfold for one brilliant bright day of flight. I relive the elation of the chase and the sinking of my teeth into the throat of my prey- what a joy it is to satisfy physical hunger. I recall the agony of being prey, because of course, all things must balance out in the end. My heart has pumped cold blood through sinuous coils and thumped its warm-blooded rhythm from ocean depths.


Like you, I am the sum of a million experiences.


It’s true that the messy, bloody rebirth into the world as a human stuns me every time. The shock of union as soul re-joins body. The violent expulsion through the birth canal. The startling sensation of air on skin, after an age of ethereal floating. The instinctive gasp, that first mortal wail. And so it begins again, and I’m here at the start of a new life.


You and I are not here together by chance. Karma pulls souls with the persistence of a river to the place they belong. For those not yet enriched enough by suffering- well, fate always finds a way to make things fair. I’ve lived my share of troubled lives, and I’ve mostly learned how to transcend them by serving my purpose with patience and compassion. Karma is as undeniable as gravity, and we must exist in harmony with it. This is how the warp and weft of the universe is woven.


When it was time to begin again, I was drawn to my mother over all others. What pattern has been set out for us I can’t yet say. As she grew the miraculous mass of stardust and water that became my body, I surrounded her with my energy until she shone. Then I sunk, as sure as an anchor dropping, into the tiny infant form that will now grow and carry me through this life. I’m only a few days old and I’m waiting to be both teacher and learner. I’m eager to meet the other embodied souls whose lives are entwined with mine.


I sleep a lot. I dream of the coloured currents of bliss in the supernatural soup from which we come. I wake and the ancient sensation of hunger drives my little body into a rage. I'm not yet skilled in exercising the intricate pathways of my brain, and I squirm and grunt with frustration. My body feels cumbersome. These early days are both familiar and vexing, as I remember the restrictions and the pleasures of flesh. My new senses thrill at the smell and sound of my mother as she comforts me, and my immature eyes learn to focus on her face. I wonder at the journey she is taking and the role I will play.


Soon, all the memories from before will fade and I’ll be fully immersed in the point of time and space my body occupies. I’ll only know the world around me through my mortal senses. I’ll forget how sunlight felt on my wings, and will long only for the warmth of my mother’s body. The desire to satisfy hunger will only bring memories of milk, not blood. It will take time to relearn the workings of the natural world. I’ll have a simple, finite sense of self. I’ll no longer know where body becomes soul, and where soul becomes eternity.


Echoes of past lives will emerge, as they always do. Brutal urges to survive at the expense of others, perhaps. Humanity can be as ugly as it is sublime. We’ve all expressed violence and selfishness, especially in early lives. I’ll have no notion of where these forces come from, but I’ll be measured by how I channel them. I wonder if the wisdom I’ve gained will persist strongly enough in my subconsciousness to prevail.


But for now, having just arrived, still settling into this soft seedcase of flesh, I remember everything. I am wiser that my parents could ever comprehend, yet helpless to communicate a word of it to them.


My parents have placed me in your arms, excited to introduce us. They are anxious to check that that the crook of your fragile elbow is supporting my head. Your embrace is stiff and awkward, but it accommodates my weight.


He’s such an easy baby, my mother tells you.


We’re naming him after you, Dad, my father says. Who do you think he takes after?


You peer into my face, pull a doubtful expression. Well, I don’t know, you begin.


We gaze at each other, mutually intrigued, and my parents are struck by how we appear simultaneously serious and serene. They marvel at the beauty of the very old cradling the very young. We are alike, you and I. We have in common the love of my parents, and we hold a symmetry by being at the two opposing ends of life; bookends with a library of experience between us. You lift a sinewed hand and stroke the curve of my cheek.


I see how you are coming to the end of your journey. Your body has become a husk, ready to release you back to the universe. You’re starting to remember the unseen ocean of energy that surrounds us. I can sense your longing to return to it, your desire to be free again. The years went by so quickly, you think, as you almost remember eternity and understand that your brief time is no more than the blink of an eye.


But you’re still so strongly tethered to this life. The jangling currents of pain in your aged nerves serve as kite strings, constantly bringing you back to your body. The unfulfilled wishes and wants of the years weigh heavily in you. You are afraid, because you can’t yet see anything beyond. It makes you bewildered and resistant. You’re stuck.


This will be my first purpose then. To help you remember what happens next, to reassure you that you can let go as soon as you’re ready. I’m here now, and I’ll comfort my mother and father when you’re gone.


Can you hear me?


I don’t know who he takes after, you say. But I see an old soul behind those eyes.

April 03, 2022 14:47

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150 comments

06:12 May 10, 2022

This piece is really beautiful L. <3

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19:15 Apr 29, 2022

I liked the tenderness shown and the awareness once again brought about how short time of life we all,creatures, animals or humans have. And the strong bond there is with the mother.

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Libby Doe
18:17 Apr 28, 2022

This was brilliant. I love the concept of a newborn carrying such an old and wise soul, of promising to care for the man, then his parents. Beautifully done.

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D M G
20:56 Apr 27, 2022

I really enjoyed this, even though I'm not a believer in karma and reincarnation. I liked how you paired birth and end of life with the grandchild/grandparent relationship. Very clever and indeed, very poetic. Well done! Worthy win.

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Eliza Cole Smith
14:52 Apr 27, 2022

So beautiful you are great at wat you do!

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Harnoor Kaur
22:04 Apr 26, 2022

Hi L! I have a question. How long did it take to know if you won? Thanks!

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07:39 Apr 27, 2022

Hello Harnoor, The winner is announced the Friday after the contest closes.

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Harnoor Kaur
12:22 Apr 28, 2022

Okay. Thank you so much!

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Heather Proft
17:04 Apr 24, 2022

Honestly, fantastic! Unique POV why humans act the way they do. I can’t help but think of the “pandemic” babies… Parents show how advanced their newborns are and how they know so much without guidance. In the cruel world we live in, many, much too young, children lose their lives. Are these “advance newborns” a soul that did not get the chance to forget all the years in between?

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Kano Childs
16:10 Apr 21, 2022

This was such a great read! Beautifully done.

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05:43 Apr 24, 2022

Thank you Kano :)

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Heidi Destefano
16:00 Apr 21, 2022

I'm a chronic skimmer, but I read every word of this story with amazement. Thank you for sharing.

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05:44 Apr 24, 2022

Thank you Heidi, I’m really glad you enjoyed it.

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Ani Favor
13:55 Apr 21, 2022

I love this write up. It makes me feel like I had existed before I was even conceived but can't seem to remember what had happened in my past life. Also, whenever I see a baby trying to express his emotions with bodily signs, I'll try to pay more attention. Who knows? The baby might be trying to tell me what he has experienced in his past life.... before he forgets.🙂

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05:45 Apr 24, 2022

Hi Ani, thank you so much for reading the story and sharing your thoughts.

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Liz Liz
01:57 Apr 21, 2022

This touched my heart. My mum was diagnosed with cancer when my daughter was 2 months old: meaning I was looking after them both and totally overwhelmed by both experiences. My mum passed away this February and my daughter turns one this month. Everything happened so fast. I’d like to think their souls were like ships passing in the night, offering silent comfort to each other- a bit like in this story. (even though I’m not religious in the slightest, soul is the only words I could thinking of to use) Thank you so much for writing such a st...

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05:51 Apr 21, 2022

Hello Liz, What an intense time for you. Thanks for sharing how this story resonated.

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Liz Liz
05:36 Apr 30, 2022

You’re welcome, thank you for a chance to explore my feelings over a delicate situation that we all must face, one way or another.

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Sumii Spooky
01:38 Apr 21, 2022

Hi L. I Love this story, I've been writing all my life on paper and I thought it was time for me to start trying and putting my stories out their <3 this truly is amazing, and I'm taking notes! so thanks for the lesson

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Glen Gabel
15:44 Apr 20, 2022

I loved the imagery you put into this - some beautiful prose here. Congratulations on the win - it's well deserved!

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05:51 Apr 21, 2022

Thanks so much Glen.

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Leticia Rebal
04:38 Apr 20, 2022

Loved it 😍

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Chris Morris
08:21 Apr 19, 2022

An obviously excellent piece of writing, well done on the win. The way you wrote this makes me think every word of it was carefully and thoughtfully placed. As a reader I really enjoyed soaking it in, and as as a writer, I'm taking mental notes. Well done again.

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05:52 Apr 21, 2022

Hi Chris, thanks so much for your feedback.

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Sadiyya Gimenez
03:50 Apr 19, 2022

Excellent description on how I sometimes feel when I enjoy a newborn human being, watching their innocent eyes in full contact with the Creator. Congratulations on your written work!

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Yuki Hashimoto
12:14 Apr 18, 2022

Incredible writing-As a short story writer I appreciate a good story that's well written-I can't believe I have never read your stories before. While reading, I got this feeling of melancholy and Harmony. I'm not surprise that this won. Beautiful!

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Niveditha S
09:04 Apr 18, 2022

Moving...I can feel the whole story in my bones...The point of view of a baby is such a unique and amazing idea!! Keep writing...looking forward to take a look at more of your work!!

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10:18 Apr 18, 2022

Many thanks Niveditha, thanks for reading!

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Kevin Broccoli
02:08 Apr 18, 2022

I love the poetic nature of the language and the way you guide us through it. Congratulations!

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08:57 Apr 18, 2022

Hello Kevin, Thanks so much. I think the characters in your stories are incredibly real, often droll, sometimes hilarious, so really appreciating feedback from you!

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Aeris Walker
23:14 Apr 17, 2022

BEAUTIFUL.

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08:54 Apr 18, 2022

Many thanks Aeris, really glad you enjoyed it.

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