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

Jay Mc Kenzie
20:14 Apr 17, 2022

This is beautiful. Congrats on the extremely well deserved win.

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Aida Muturia
16:35 Apr 17, 2022

Hallo there, I have forked and devoured this narrative with a wide mouth and big appetite! And shared with everyone I know who'd appreciate this material, OR NOT. Doesn't matter. I love the way you have weaved it, such a vivid depiction of the soul's travels which is a topic I love to explore and read about. Thank you so much for sharing! It's beyond wonderland ❤️❤️❤️

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17:18 Apr 17, 2022

Aida thanks so much 😊

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Aida Muturia
21:00 Apr 17, 2022

Very welcome! Can't wait to read more from you!

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14:43 Apr 17, 2022

You dove all the way in and placed the words beautifully. Very nicely done.

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16:26 Apr 17, 2022

Hi Douglas, many thanks for reading!

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06:17 Apr 17, 2022

Nice writing, I like your metaphorical allusions to the cycle of life and an unseen dimension/world that we can't see but can feel from time to time. "Echoes of past lives will emerge, as they always do. Brutal urges.." Great poetic description of a theme that I come back to now and then, The issues today that seem uniquely special and urgent, but viewed in history are part of a cycle between political polarization and chilling out (what's the right word?) that seems to occur every 50 years or so.

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16:30 Apr 17, 2022

Hi Scott, Really interesting to hear this perspective. Thanks so much for reading!

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Steve Uppendahl
06:11 Apr 17, 2022

Beautifully written story! I love the starting and finishing with the same line and connecting the title of the story to your final line. (I've done both of those a few times myself.) Write on!

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17:21 Apr 17, 2022

Hey Steve, Thanks very much for your feedback, it’s really helpful to hear what works.

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Kristy Reynolds
23:07 Apr 16, 2022

This is absolutely fantastic. It weaves otherworldliness and reality together so well. And the sweetness at the end just pulls at the heartstrings. You use your descriptive phrases well, they keep the reader (me) pulled in. Great job!

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17:22 Apr 17, 2022

Hi Kristy, Thanks so much for your lovely comment. I’m glad you enjoyed reading it.

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Zakirah Green
16:37 Apr 16, 2022

I like your story. It's real good. ''Like you, I am the sum of a million experiences...You and I are not here by chance. Karma pulls souls with the persistence of a river to the place they belong.'' This is religious.

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17:39 Apr 17, 2022

Hello Zakirah, Glad to hear you enjoyed it and found meaning in it. Thanks for reading!

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Laura Simmons
16:31 Apr 16, 2022

What a wonderful story! The best I’ve read on this forum, in my opinion. It is so poetic, and draws you in to the wonders of life and constant rebirth, reincarnation, our place in the mysteries of the he universe. Bravo!!

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17:40 Apr 17, 2022

Hey Laura, Thanks so much for your lovely words, I’m glad you enjoyed reading it.

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Harnoor Kaur
16:29 Apr 16, 2022

Hi! Great job! To enter the story into the contest, you needed to give 5$, right? Did you need to give any more after?

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17:42 Apr 17, 2022

Hello Harnoor and welcome to Reedsy. You just need to pay the entry fee. I will be checking out your story too!

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Harnoor Kaur
19:26 Apr 17, 2022

Thank you so much!

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Philip Ebuluofor
13:48 Apr 16, 2022

Yeah, I can hear you well. Already a big hit. Two submissions two mighty hits. Fine work man.

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17:43 Apr 17, 2022

Hi Philip Thanks so much! Glad you enjoyed reading it.

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Philip Ebuluofor
11:13 Apr 19, 2022

I really do.

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Jose Gonzalez
12:43 Apr 16, 2022

Great story, your writing is very poetic. I loved the line "being on opposite ends of life" when the child is being held by the grandparents. Well done

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17:43 Apr 17, 2022

Hi Jose Many thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!

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Andrea Doig
10:51 Apr 16, 2022

Well done on a clever concept - but even more cleverly written. Loved he writing style. A worthy winner x

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17:44 Apr 17, 2022

Hello Andrea Many thanks for your feedback and thank you for reading!

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Julia Shepy
08:33 Apr 16, 2022

Well done L! This is so beautiful, so poetic, so deep... thank you :)

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17:44 Apr 17, 2022

Hi Julia, So glad you enjoyed it. Thank you!

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Chris Holland
02:31 Apr 16, 2022

Well done on the win, well deserved. I enjoyed your story, the opening was particularly intriguing and the sentence 'like you I am the sum of a million experiences' was captivating.

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04:34 Apr 16, 2022

Hi Chris, so glad you enjoyed it. Many thanks for your thoughts.

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Drew Andrews
02:16 Apr 16, 2022

Well done.

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04:23 Apr 16, 2022

Thanks so much Drew!

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Debra Brown
23:18 Apr 15, 2022

I absolutely loved this story, and you deserve the win. Cudos. Deb

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04:23 Apr 16, 2022

Debra, many thanks.

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❀Leo Fall❀
22:15 Apr 15, 2022

I love stories about reincarnation and rebirth. Your writing style simply made it, more. I'll keep an eye out for your other stories.

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04:24 Apr 16, 2022

I’m so glad you enjoyed reading it. Many thanks’

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❀Leo Fall❀
04:26 Apr 16, 2022

Of course. I can't wait to see what else you end up writing.

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Carrol Halliwell
21:02 Apr 15, 2022

I loved it! Beautifully written. 👏

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04:24 Apr 16, 2022

Carrol, many thanks.

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Husna Writes
19:23 Apr 15, 2022

Unique story, Unique POV. I love the narration style.

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04:25 Apr 16, 2022

Thanks very much Hussaina, I’m so glad you enjoyed it.

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Dora Acosta
18:44 Apr 15, 2022

Your prose in this piece is lyrical and captivating. I loved the line, "Humanity can be as ugly as it is sublime." Well done, and congrats on your win!

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04:26 Apr 16, 2022

Thank you very much for your thoughts Dora, much appreciated.

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