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Alternate Lives: Awareness
Alternate Lives: Awareness
Do you finally understand?
Such a scene overwhelmed my senses, even in their present state. So vibrant, so electric… words, even if they could, did not escape my lips. Transcendent, the only way to begin to describe this event, an event I knew would come to be, just a sure as everyone else who came before me knew. Of course, no one could ever believe there would be a witness. Honestly, I was amazed at that fact. Yet, I stood, well… drifted really, within the mesmerizing show around me. It called to me, just as I called to it. I did not know how, only that it sought something primal within, as if it knew as well I would be here. Could a consciousness exist, even now? Perhaps not a true consciousness, but more of a collective understanding… a knowledge of what was, is, and, well… would be was something of a problem that needed sorting out. Unfortunately, no time remained, or seemed to exist for that matter. I laughed internally and realized that matter itself was about to cease. Fine time for me to think of the ironies of the universe. And the universe… it lay before me, collapsing into entropy. I had read many books, articles and papers on this subject thousands upon thousands of times. Still, the event never could prepare me for the inspiring wonder of it all. I guess if I could conjure an audience I might have written about the event. Since no audience existed, I let the inspiration pass and waited… waited for the last seconds of existence to spectacularly slip away.
Only one thing plagued me in this rather calm (really not near as violent as I thought) end to all that was, er… is… How did I get here?
I knew that sound, should I have even heard one.
I think it is a convention you dreamed up.
That voice… thought. I knew it as well. I let what was left of my consciousness drift to the sound. I could feel an image form in my mind, and though the universe collapsed around me, I managed to be shocked one more time.
Don’t worry… I’m not so much who you think I am.
I thought I was the only one left, the only one who could be here… at this point.
Left? Perhaps you have forgotten… or you still don’t understand.
I tried to contemplate a response, but none would come. Wait. I came here of my own accord. But why? She… yes, she… how? How, anything, really? No, I do not understand, I replied as well as I could.
Part I: Awareness
You have to remember… or be damned.
I awoke with a start. Voices… dreams. All it was, a dream. Getting more intense though. Felt horribly real. Still dark. I looked over to the pale light of my alarm clock. Four AM. Typical. About when I have been waking up recently. I would not be able to get back to sleep, that much was certain. No rest for the sleep deprived. Oh… I noticed the book next to me. I must have been reading it, trying to take my mind off school and the paper I had to write. No wonder I was having crazy dreams. '12th Planet.' Great read, but a bit out in left field… somewhere near Jupiter. I sighed, vowing not to read any of Sitchin's books late at night, at least until the next time I did it. Disgusted, I tossed the paperback aside, and got out of bed. Even though it was still early, I turned on my computer and stared for a moment fruitlessly. I wondered if I would ever finish this latest research paper. Finish? Sure. Would it be any good? Well… I glanced at the biography of Richard I sitting by the computer. Interesting enough, but I needed more than a biography to support my conclusions. Something seemed odd about the title. I had not remembered seeing that before…
Was I nodding off? My face felt like it hit the keyboard again? Damn. Never going to finish this paper. Thirty-five pages on the criticism of historiographical methods in Medieval History. I yawned thinking about it. Why wouldn’t they let me just do my research? I had enough to do besides learning about dead Frenchmen’s methods of historical research and the German method and…. I stood up and shook the cobwebs out of my head. Felt a little… unsettled. Not enough to eat? I looked around at the squalor that was my small apartment. Hmm… leftover fries and a cheeseburger. I sniffed the burger. Still good, so I must have eaten recently. I lazily took a bite, more out of requirement than hunger. Setting the burger back down on the edge of my cluttered desk, I stumbled to the kitchen and peered into the wastes of my refrigerator, hoping not to be attacked by the leftovers before I retrieved a caffeinated beverage. I succeeded, barely. What was that yellow mold on the cheese? Ew.
No time, never enough. Had to get this paper done, or I would fail this semester and lose my financial aid. Could not let that happen, for I had worked too hard to get back into school to finish my grad work. Shouldn’t have spent all that time gaming… ah, well. Not completely my fault. I was married to a gamer for a while. I sighed. Look how that turned out. Been divorced for almost two years and she’s still angry over details. Details... always were lost in hers. Icy blue eyes, long, luxurious black hair that she occasionally dyed burgundy, and the way she moved... ah. Enough. After all that we had been through, I deserved a little anger too. I mean, I was dumped. Well, such was the way of things. I tried to move on, and it was working out so well. Note to self, lighten up with the sarcasm. I took a drink of the soda and was thrilled to have the caffeine soon work its magic and keep me up long enough to finish. I shuffled over to my desk and sat back down, catching a glimpse of myself in the monitor’s reflection. Man, did I look that bad? I shrugged. I did not care. Nor did I want to.
A chill rolled up my spine, that feeling as if something is not quite right, but not quite wrong. It just seemed odd. I could not place it, and continued typing away while deciphering a journal’s bad French to English translation. The realization hit me then. I was translating a journal from Latin, not French. I would swear by it. I may have been tired, not taken leave of my now rattled senses. I searched the mess that was my desk, my room and throughout my apartment, but to no avail. The journal I knew I was working on had disappeared. And the journal I had in front of me was one I had never seen before… I looked at an article in the journal. An author was examining the research of Richard the Lionheart’s latest biography, calling into question his attack on the Vexin in 1201. I dropped the journal and my heart skipped a beat. Richard I died in 1198 from a gangrenous crossbow wound at Chalus-en-Chabrol. He never attacked the Vexin, but something in the back of my mind told me it was so. As if I were remembering days that never were. But the logical part of my brain screamed what I was remembering was impossible. It had to be. No. Richard lived for ten more years and conquered the remainder of France. I muttered to myself, “C’est imposible!”
I was speaking French. I said some more words. French. I had never been able to speak French this well. English? I tried, but it sounded painful. Arrgh. Middle English. My memory reminded me that English was a dead language as much as Greek. Latin? Almost perfect. I knew the world was not right and I was becoming a part of it. I scanned the flat quickly (flat? Damn.) Everything seemed ok. The televisor was where it was supposed to be, so was the wireless. I looked over at my desk. The computation machine appeared to be in order. Even the Internet was functioning. I decided to turn on the televisor to check the programmes. Five stations? Wait, it was a Sunday. The Cowboys would be playing. I switched to channel four. No… why would there be a team called the Dallas Cowboys when I was now living in New Bretigny?
Thump! “Ow… dammit!”, I yelped as I hit a hardwood floor. Hey, that was in English; however, I distinctly recalled my apartment not having hardwood floors. I was groggy, a bit calm, though. Nauseous? A little. That empty feeling in the pit of the stomach. Like from before… what the hell was happening? The smell... not right as well. I knew that smell. Oh God. I tried to regain my bearings and looked up from the floor. “Holy…”, I exclaimed as a not-quite clothed woman peered from over the bed at me. Waitaminute. She must have seen the abject horror in my eyes. My pulse quickened. I knew her… of course I knew her, but a long time ago. I thought… quickly. It had been that long ago. She looked so young.
“What’re you yammering about?”, she inquired in something of a Southern twang, obviously not too amused. “You were just fine a minute ago, more than fine really.” She smiled mischievously at that, implying more than I could handle at the moment, but certainly less than I expected. I tried to say something… anything, but nothing could be formed. I was astonished, partly because of what happened between us. Nothing actually, hence my astonishment. At this moment though, she was in my… a bed and reached out her hand to me and offered to pull me off the floor. I took that warm hand I had so longed for innumerous times and stood, noticing I was a lot lighter than I should have been. I felt healthier too. It hit me. I was younger. She was younger. But none of this happened, no matter how much I wanted it to. The woman dragged me back into the bed and lay against me, a bit forceful at that. “Now, are you gonna tell me what’s wrong?”
“Not a good start.”
“Sorry… must have hit my head or something.” I smiled sheepishly, hoping to extricate myself from this line of questioning. I did not know what was wrong, or what was right for that matter. I needed to know, though.
“Usually doesn’t happen to you when… we… well… “, she grinned again, with the delight of a feline playing with her prey. Oh, yeah. I always wanted to be on the receiving end of that look.
“I get it.” That answered one of my questions. We were a lot more than involved. Explained why I was lightheaded and a little calm. But that could be whatever was happening to me. Which was? I tried to think, but she kept looking at me and inched her way closer to my face. I could see the sparkling wonder and passion in her emerald eyes. Her breath…so warm, and she smelled like I remembered I thought she should. That made no sense. Nothing made sense. I felt her lips against mine. I did not care. For some reason, the kiss made sense, as if it were always a part of me. It was cold comfort, but comfort nonetheless.
I awoke in the dark, noticing it would be light soon. She was still asleep, her face buried in my chest and somewhat concealed by her long, auburn, almost red hair. I did not know what to think. My mind was reeling, but I knew… I felt… right, as I did before. Like I was remembering what should be but never was. And the longer I lay in her embrace, the more comfortable I felt. I think I was adjusting somehow. Could that be part of it? If I lingered too long, would my mind simply cease? What of the memories of… um… myself? Where is he… ah… am I? How could I get back? I looked down at her, nuzzled against me. Did I want to get back? I sighed. However wonderful this was, whatever she means to the me now… here… I felt differently. I closed my eyes and waited… for…
Blue-green… skies, no water. That sickening feeling again, except it was enhanced by free-fall of… a wave? I felt something strike me in the head as I was thrown against the surf and smashed into the ocean floor, at least it probably was the ocean floor. The stinging in my eyes… yep, salt water. My arm hurt. Did I land on it wrong? Would it matter in a moment? I noticed I was drowning. How ignominious. I tried to surface, but was forced back under. Damn… how big was that wave?! I could feel myself waver, the blackness approaching… something… someone… grabbed me. I did not think. I hurt too much. Just as well. Needed to rest awhile.
I know you are waiting. I see you all. I want to awaken. I long to know you again, to know you for the first time. To forget the pain, to remember. I want to remember…
My cheek felt cool. A hand… brushing against me. Voices… English. Thank goodness for that at least. Odd. A bit of a drawl. I couldn’t quite make it out. No, not Texan. Almost British. Australian. It made perfect sense. I was home. Or at least where I thought home should be, where I always wanted to be. I never kept my promise to return. But I have… in this strange journey I have undertaken. Maybe I died. Sounded too easy. Besides, I hurt too much to be dead. Clichéd, but true. My head felt like something had pounded itself against it. A surfboard, maybe? My right arm was broken, I could definitely feel that. I wanted to open my eyes. I really did, yet the fear was overwhelming. I knew exactly what I would see. Not because I remembered to be so, but because I wanted it to be so. I felt her lips press against my forehead. I opened my eyes. I could feel the tears welling in my eyes. All that I had lost returned to me in an instant. I knew this place as if I were born to it. The moment… the moment would last.
Ten years ago, I made a choice to leave her. It was the hardest and worst decision of my life. I had always hoped for another chance. I did not think it could ever be like this. Her smile was warm and tender and she rested her hand against mine… the good one. I sat up, checking my surroundings. As I thought… hospital. I was still a little dizzy, probably a concussion. Felt like a bad hangover, but a bit more kick. I looked to her. She was older than as I knew her, but not much. I think I felt older, but it was getting hard to tell. How many times had I really done this? More than I remember? She noticed my puzzlement and asked, “Are you getting another spell? You had quite an experience.” Her accent… something I always loved about her. Hmph. I loved everything about her; every gentle curve of her flesh to the unconditional love in her heart. Strangely, she loved everything about me as well. I tried to form words, and this time I was finally capable of speaking.
“Fine. More than you know. It’s so good to see you. “
She looked amused. “Such a silly Texan. You see me all the time. “
“Never enough for me.” I smiled sheepishly. She smiled back and kissed my lips gently. It… I could not describe it. Nor did I want to. “So much… I need to say.”
She kept smiling, bemused at my effort. “You hit harder than you thought. “ She leaned closer and whispered lightly in my ear. “You’ve said all you could ever need to say to me. You know that.“. I nodded. “You gave up everything to be with me. “ I continued to nod, thinking how I wished it were true. But in fact it was, and it made me ill.
“How long do I need to stay here?” I asked, trying to change the subject and assess the damage done to me.
“Not long… overnight I think. I’ll stay with you. I don’t have a lecture in the morning, so it’ll be fine.” I nodded again, wondering how far along she was with her degree. I knew, actually. The memories of this… of me told me. But I knew another place as well. My memory. The woman as I knew her…
In the world I remembered, she did get her degree eventually but we did not speak of it. We drifted apart as long distance lovers often do. It would not last. I pushed away, wanting to wallow in self-pity, not caring for what I had done, nor for her. My life continued in the direction I wanted it to, for good or ill and I heard nothing from the distant land I wanted to call home. I heard nothing from her, not for some time. We did speak again… had it only been a few months? It must have been. She had gotten married, finished her degree and was happy. She had a daughter as I recalled. The conversation was pleasant enough. I apologized for what I had done, but she had forgiven me long ago and did not want to talk of such things. Instead, we chatted idly in the realm of small talk and did not concern ourselves with deeper things. She invited me to see her when I was in Australia next. I chuckled, wondering how long that would be.
“Something wrong?” she asked. Oh… I must have chuckled without saying anything. Happens when I get lost in thought.
“No… just reminiscing.”
“Of what?” she queried.
“Us… “ I looked to her and gazed into her soulful brown eyes. I wanted to stay there in that instant. She could see I wanted to say something. It hurt, but it was what had to be done. Something… deeper was telling me. Time. Fine… “You need to know how much I love you… that I will always love you. “ I stammered it out, trying not to break down. At least I had this… at least in this place, what was meant to be… would be. It was an odd sensation, being drawn away. I saw her… saw the confusion, and in one brief second… understanding.
You must awaken. You must know. I want to be aware. But it must be yours.
Hot! Plate. Almost burned myself. Now this setting was familiar. I knew… almost instantly it seemed. I tried to discern why but I had other matters to attend to, most importantly trying not to burn dinner for a bunch of hungry people. Odd… I never wanted to come back here… of all places. I looked from the kitchen, into the den. They were all sitting around, laughing at some snide comment or joke. All of them. Those I left behind with a purpose. And the one who left me… I heard her coming down the hall. Had I moved in time? Before, it seemed place was more a factor. Was time more an issue now? She stepped in front of me… startling me, batting her icy blue eyes at me in delight, knowing she had gotten the better of me. It was something she liked to do. I smirked and tried to hide my sense of disgust. I left joy and returned to banality. It was not that I did not care… far from it, but the laughter, the words, her movements. A reminder of something all too painful. And yet, something felt out of place. Not quite right. I excused myself quickly and left her with the kitchen details. She simply shrugged and took over. She enjoyed cooking to an extent. I stumbled down the hall and examined the bedrooms. Ours… ours was still there, messy and much like I remembered. Roommates? Yes… one… two… wait. The other girl. I wondered about that and checked what should be this woman’s room. Empty… well, a storage room. I stepped back into the kitchen and casually mentioned our roommate’s name. She looked at me oddly, puzzled in fact. She did not know what I was talking about. I nodded and apologized. I told her I was channeling some other life. Ironically, it was actually true this time.
Her best friend, at least the best friend that I knew of was not here. They never met, or she never existed. Either way, she was not a part of her… our lives. In a way, I was saddened. In another, I was relieved. Things between she and I were always... strained at best. I turned and asked another foolish question I realized I had the answer to. “What year is this?”
She pulled back her long, black hair trying to keep it out of the food while looking at me as if I were lost. “What do you mean by that?”
“Could you answer the question?” I asked. She was getting irritated. Great, I knew what that meant, or did I? She answered, and it did not surprise me. It was almost the present. I began to understand this place. The deviation was slim, but enough to keep us together. Was that the price for our happiness? Her best friend not even a memory. Well, I did not like her that much… but I was feeling guilty at any rate. I did not understand why, especially since I deserved a little happiness. They got to be happy at my expense… all of them did. Why not me?
“Why not me…” I muttered, just enough for her to hear.
“Why not you what?” she asked, a little concern in her voice. She stepped away from the stove and closer to me.
“I’m not sure you’d understand… really. I don’t myself.”
“We’ve been over this before. You can tell me anything, especially if you are having issues again with… “
“Trust me…that’s not it. “ I interjected quickly. It had nothing to do with our past issues, sort of. “I…”
“What, then?” she asked quietly.
I looked at her and saw… a glimmer of… tomorrow. I saw us, but not us. I kept looking into her and within her soul. The soul I always knew. I saw the person I shared so much with and cared for so long. I felt… awareness as if it was tangible and I could grasp it. I instead grasped her lightly and she looked into me. “I remember…”
The core of her being remembered with me. All that I had seen, all that I had known, all that I would be was hers. Regardless of the pain we had caused each other, we always had a bond that I could not understand. Was this it? What was she? Time melted into a place without barriers, a world I understood… what I had given up to become.
We could not speak. We did not need to. I simply kissed her good-bye.
My backpack felt light. I felt light. I wandered the cavernous halls of the College, looking for the right room, even though it would be were it should. Still, I did my best to remember only what I needed, lest I be overwhelmed. The students paid me little heed, and some gave me some deference due to my age. In truth, I looked about as young as I did so many years ago when… well, when all that business occurred. In reality, I did not know, nor want to know how old I was. I suppose I could figure it out, but I had better things to do. Classes were starting to let out and I fought through the crowds scurrying to where they needed to be. I smiled, wishing I could impart to them… anything. But what would it change? I laughed aloud at the answer. 305… the lecture letting out.
I leaned inside the doorway as the students continued to filter past. I nodded politely to them and they continued on their way. A few stopped to ask questions of the lecturer and she answered to the best of her knowledge. She did not see me, and turned to erase some notes on Chaucer from the board. She struggled a little, but she was getting older. Closer to 50, I thought. Her hair was still black, not dyeing it burgundy anymore it seemed. Did it really matter? The answer, as always, amused me.
“Excuse me, Professor…” I said in my best impression of a Texas accent. “Ah’m lookin’ for this here history department in this dang fancy College. “ She paused for a moment, then answered.
“That’s another college. Which history department, anyway?”
“Medieval, of course”, I said in my normal, flat accent. She turned quickly, not really surprised, but pleased.
We stood for a moment, not quite sure what to say. I walked into the lecture hall and reached out to her. We held each other for awhile, and I could feel her tears against my cheek. “I really wondered... if you would ever show. “, she said quietly.
“I know this sounds odd, but I got lost. “
“Oxford is confusing… oh… that kind of lost.” She laughed, and leaned up to kiss my cheek. I smiled and kissed her back.
“Yeah. I’d love to tell you about it after I get settled in. Maybe over some dinner?”
“Sure. Just call my office and we’ll set it up.”, she said. I started to agree, then decided.
“Come to think of it, I’m settled now. Shall we?” I outstretched my hand to her. She took it and we exited the lecture hall, talking of our fantastic days together, nights apart and the times in-between. She asked of my travels and the wonders I had encountered. I considered for a moment, then said “Better I show you… “
Her eyes widened, and with a grin I…
To be continued in tomorrow's post
6/7/2006 12:38 am
wholy cow your a novelist!|