A Prior Life

Written in response to: End your story with a kiss at midnight.... view prompt

2 comments

Fiction Contemporary Drama

Doctor Todd Bischoff smiled as he walked into the hospital room. Alaina Graff, a lovely 28-year-old first time mother, held her baby boy, Jake. The soft glow from the deflected light above the bed put them in an almost angelic aura. Her husband, Ethan, his dark brown eyes filled with their reflection, stood at the side watching over his wife and new son. Glancing from one to the other, he said “Good morning, Mr. and Mrs. Graff, I'm the staff pediatrician. Congratulations, you have a perfectly healthy child.”

Alaina’s smile melted into a look of concern, “Is that a bruise on his forehead? Will it go away soon?”

“No, it’s a condition called nevus flammeus, a birthmark. Nothing to worry about.”

Ethan’s jaw tightened, “Are you saying he’ll have that spot all of his life?”

“Yes, but it’s nothing to be too concerned about. Given where it is, above his eyebrow near his hairline, he’ll be fine. His hair should cover it in a few years, and he’ll grow to become a handsome young man.”

A tear rolled down Alaina’s cheek. Ethan wiped it away. He cupped her chin, bent down and kissed both her and Jake. “He’s going to be okay.”

As he grew, his thick wheat blond locks covered the birthmark on his forehead, and it was hardly noticeable. On Jake’s sixth birthday, Alaina awoke to him screaming. She jumped and ran to his room. Jake was sitting up in his bed. He stared at the ceiling and screamed again. She flipped on the light, “Jake, what’s wrong? Are you alright?” She hugged him tight, and stroked his hair.

A second later, Ethan stepped in, “What’s the matter?”

Jake rubbed and batted his eyes, “I had that bad dream again. The angry man was staring at me. His eyes scared me.”

Alaina turned to Ethan, “This is the sixth night in a row. They seem to be getting worse.”

“Yeah, the last one, seeing two naked people bumping against each other, was a bit too graphic for a six-year-old.”

“Sweetheart, you're okay. Now go back to sleep.” Alaina said, tucking Jake in, and patting him on the chest. She kissed his forehead before switching off the lamp.

Walking back to their bedroom, Alaina said, “I’m going to call the doctor in the morning. He said if his nightmares become more frequent, I should bring him back in for a visit and examination.” 

The next afternoon, Alaina and Jake sat waiting to see the doctor. “Good afternoon, Mrs. Graff, I hope you’re well.” Doctor Ross said, stepping into the examining room. “How’s little Jake doing?” Tousling his blond hair and pulling it back to glance at his birthmark.

Alaina took a deep breath and let out a sigh, “I’m worried. His bad dreams occur much more often, and some of them are adult in nature. Is there anything wrong with him?”

After he completed a careful physical examination, he said, “Mrs. Graff, if you don’t mind, I’d like to spend a few minutes alone with Jake. I’ll meet you in the waiting area.”

“Of course.” In the waiting room, Alaina slowly eased into her chair. She looked down, and her hands were trembling. She glanced around the room, her eyes darted from side to side. Please let him be okay

Doctor Ross began, “Jake, I have some questions for you, okay?”

“Sure.”

“Have you watched anything on the internet with grown-ups in it?”

“No, mommy says no internet until I’m older.”

“Have you seen Mommy and Daddy together, maybe kissing, or not wearing any clothes?”

“No.” Jake said, glancing away and then back at him. “I only see naked or scary people in my dreams.”

“Do you recognize any of the people?”

“I think so, but I’m not sure. And, sometimes, I have to hide and stay quiet in my dreams when the mean man comes home.”

“Who’s the mean man, Jake, is it your father?”

“No, the mean man was my friend. I can’t remember his name. When I’m dreaming, the lady who kisses me a lot calls me Cody. She kisses the mean man too. I’ve watched them bumping together with no clothes on.”

“Do you know who's kissing you?”

“In my dream, I do, but not when I wake up. She touches me all over, and wants me to touch her.”

“Jake, tell me, has anyone ever touched you or made you feel uncomfortable when you’re awake?”

“No.”

He tousled Jake’s hair, “Thank you for your answers. I’m going to ask the nurse to get you a lollipop and have you wait outside while I speak to your mommy.”

Mrs. Graff, “I have to know, are you and your husband having any marital issues or under any other type of stress?”

“We’re fine. Ethan goes to work every day and Jake is in Kindergarten three days a week. I’m a stay-at-home mom.”

The Doctor paused and touched his chin, “Well, there are no signs of physical abuse. So, I assume everything is okay at home. His nightmares are simply not normal, but very real to him. I’m going to recommend a child psychologist.”

Later that night, Alaina and Ethan chatted over a glass of wine, “Yes, he's sending him to a psychologist. He said his nightmares are not normal. To him, they are realistic. And––” 

Interrupted by screams coming from Jake’s room, they both ran up the stairs. Jake sat in his bed with his eyes rolled back. His hands out in front of his chest. In an adult voice, he said, “It’s not her fault. Put the gun down. We can talk this through.”

Alaina glanced at Ethan, then ran to Jake and shook him by the shoulders, “Wake up, Jake.” she cried.

Ethan stood in the doorway, panting. His pulse raced. “What was that voice? How quickly can we get him to a psychologist?”

Jake woke and started to cry, “The mean man, he was going to shoot me.”

Less than a week later, the three of them arrived for Jake’s first appointment at the psychologist. When Doctor Welchem walked into the waiting area wearing a long white coat, she bent down and greeted Jake first. “You must be Jake, how are you? I’m Doctor Welchem.” She said, shaking his hand. Jake smiled up at her. Then she stood to greet his parents, “Pleasure to meet you. Part of my procedure is to start alone with a patient. I’ll be taking him back now, and I'll return to speak with you about my initial findings.”

Ethan fidgeted in his seat, then glanced at his watch, “It’s been almost an hour, what the heck is she doing to him?” He jumped up, “I’m going in there and––”

Doctor Welchem interrupted by opening the door and addressed them in an alarming tone, “It's urgent that I speak with you immediately. Please come back to my office.” Her office was luxuriously appointed, more like a sitting room, with a sofa and two comfortable armchairs. Her desk held a computer and behind it a tall bookshelf. Over the sofa was a cherry wood panel that opened to reveal a window into a playroom. They could see Jake playing in the other room through the two-way mirror. “Mr. and Mrs. Graft, I’m not sure where to begin. I know this will be difficult to understand, but, I believe Jake is the reincarnation of another person. His nightmares are memories from that person's last days of life.”

Ethan jumped up and began pacing the room. He rubbed his forehead, stopped and stared at Jake playing through the mirror. “How’s it possible?” He turned to face the Doctor at her desk.

Alaina's eyes went wide and her jaw dropped. For a moment, she couldn’t form a thought, much less a response. Looking at Ethan, she said, “I don’t believe it.”

“I understand the concept is difficult to comprehend. Nonetheless, it is possible. In my thirty years of practice, I’ve seen at least two other cases. I've used hypnotism to address this issue in the past. I'd like to hypnotize Jake to learn more and find a way to stop his nightmares.”

Alaina's face flushed, “I’m not sure. Ethan?”

Ethan paused and locked eyes with Alaina. “Well, if it’ll keep him from having nightmares.”

Jake sat on the sofa with his parents by his side. Doctor Welchem put a mechanical metronome on the table and turned down the light. She asked him to watch as she spoke. Two minutes later, Jake was in a trance. “Whoever you are, if you can hear me, please tell us about yourself.”

Jake began to speak with an adult voice, “My name is Cody, I’m 35-years-old, I was born and grew up in Prosper, Texas and I have two brothers, Kenneth and Matthew. I work at the Gunter Lumber Mill.” Alaina's eyes filled with tears. Ethan reached around Jake to touch her shoulder. “My high school girlfriend broke up with me to marry my best friend two years ago,”

“Where are you now?”

“I don’t know. The last thing I remember was being shot right here.” he said, touching his birthmark.

Almost six years before, on New's Eve, in Gunter, Texas, Travis Meadows, a 36-year-old man woke suddenly. He was in a cold sweat and quivering. His eyes went wide, he had had a terrible nightmare. Suddenly, he felt a flash of anger. He dreamt that someone had seen him and his wife of two years, Emma, a 34-year-old petite strawberry blond, having sex. Then, he reached over to feel for her. She wasn’t there. The bed was cold. His heart pounded. Where is she? Sitting up in the stillness of the room, he pinched his eyes and wiped his forehead. He glanced over at the clock, it was eleven-thirty.

Glancing around the room, the only light came from a slit in the sagging curtains. He heard muffled voices, and thought there were two people downstairs talking. He strained his ears to listen. Then he definitely recognized one voice to be a man’s. Who’s in my house? Quietly, he slid open the nightstand drawer, and took out the pistol safe, and entered the code. The safe popped open. He pulled out the gun. 

Wearing only a pair of boxers, he gently laid back the bed covers, and slipped out of bed. He slowly opened the bedroom door. The voices became clearer, then went silent, replaced by a rhythmic bumping and squeaking sound. Creeping down the stairs, he peeked around the corner into the living room. The moonlight from the window cast a blue hue across the room. On the sofa were Emma and a shirtless man. His jeans down around his ankles, they were having sex.

Travis flipped on the light. They froze and the bumping and squeaking stopped. The man looked back over his shoulder. His back glistened with sweat as he slowly pulled away from Emma. It was Cody Baker, his best friend.

“What the hell's going on?”

Emma gasped, “Travis, it’s not what you think.”

With spittle flying from the corners of his mouth, “Are you kidding? I saw what you were doing! My God, Cody!” 

Cody said, reaching to pull up his jeans.“Look, man––”

“Leave them off!” Cody cupped his hands below his waist in front of him. “How did you get into my house?”

Emma clutched a pillow from the sofa to her breasts, “I let him in before we went to bed. You’d been drinking.”

Travis spun around in a circle and waved the gun in the air. He stopped and stared at Cody. Then he stepped up close to him. So close, Cody could smelt his breath pungent with alcohol. He whispered, “You’re a miserable excuse for a human being.”

Emma picked up her night gown and held it to her, “I expected you to pass out after we had sex, same as every night!” she snapped.

He bent over and began to sob. Holding the gun in one hand, he rubbed his face with the other. As he brushed back his hair with his arm, he stood straight.

Emma pleaded, “Please Travis, leave him alone, whatever we had between us is over. I’m leaving you and going back to Cody.”

Cody pulled up his jeans, and held his hands up at chest level. “Come on, Travis, just calm down.” Staring at Travis’s crazed expression, he felt his eyes could pierce his soul.

Travis’s chest began to heave with short breaths, “So the two of you have been having sex right under my nose.” A bead of sweat rolled across his eyebrow and dropped onto the floor.

Cody watched it soak into the carpet before glancing at Emma. “It’s not her fault.” he turned back to Travis, “Put the gun down. I know we can talk through this. We've been friends a long time.”

Travis stared at Emma, “It isn’t as if she were fighting you off a minute ago. She just told me we're done.” His eyes moved from Emma’s back to Cody’s. He put the gun to Cody's forehead.

Emma screamed, “No, Travis, stop!”

He pulled the gun away and bent forward, rubbing his face with his hand holding the gun, he looked up. His body shaking and with a crazed expression, he began to sob. He wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. “Cody, buddy, how could you do this to me?” Just then, the clock struck midnight, “Go on, kiss her.” Travis ordered, shaking the gun at them. Cody kissed Emma passionately before turning to face him.

At the next second, Travis stood straight, and held out the gun. A sharp crack ripped through the room when he shot Cody in the forehead. A round hole popped just above his right eyebrow, below his hairline. Blood flew onto the wall behind him and splattered across Emma’s face. He crumpled to the floor. A pool of blood soaked into the carpet. Emma dropped to her knees to aid him.

The morning news opened with, “Local man shoots his wife’s lover, after he caught them together in his house while he was home. Thirty-six-year-old Travis Meadows…”

Copyright © 2022 by Chandler Wilson

December 31, 2022 19:17

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

2 comments

14:28 Jan 02, 2023

The baby’s birth spot leading into reincarnation back story is clever. And the infidelity adds a lot of high stakes tension. I remember you had written this before, its amazing how improved your writing is.

Reply

Chandler Wilson
02:25 Jan 04, 2023

Thank you Scott. I always appreciate your comments. I’m on a mission to improve my writing skills. Thank you for noticing.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.