Author: E.L. Rose

There are certain affordances that come with knowing your death can never be permanent. With every new reincarnation, you become a little wiser. The slate never gets wiped completely clean; you’re like a palimpsest of every life you’ve lived before, an old soul being rewritten indefinitely until every fragment of the past becomes only the faintest trace of old ink that never fades.

Eventually, though, all those old shadows start to blur together, until some days you wake up with the barest hint of a memory that doesn’t belong to you. Some days feel crystal clear; others are a shifting, dizzying mass of shapes and colors. On the worst days, you look in the mirror and see five, ten, a hundred different versions of yourself, all stretched out and warping from one to the next. Eventually, the soul deteriorates. Time and identity meld into a thick miasma.

It’s easy to die on those hazy days—to give in to the ceaseless swirling blur of identity and lack-of-identity until you wake again with the blissful unawareness of an infant. On the clear days, when you are certain that you are you and have never been nor wanted to be anyone else, the drop from the cliff’s edge starts to feel permanent. The rocks and waves below, the distant sky growing further and further away, plummeting almost in slow motion, you can’t help but think to yourself, No, not here, not now. Not this life. Please, anything but this—

And then, nothing. For the briefest of instances, everything is dark and quiet, a level of dark and quiet from before light and sound were created. But there is always the next life, kicking and screaming and clawing its way free. A pinprick of light. Your first breath. The sound of your own cries railing against the injustice of losing a life you’ve already nearly forgotten. An almost-clean slate, and dust that never settles.

You’re hungry. You’re cold. You wonder where your mother has gone. She’s holding you; she says she’s right here. You cry anyway.