Saturday, March 29, 2014

Prompt: How many times must I die?

I was 22 when I died the first time. My lover, Paton, gave me the flu with a kiss. I watched my baby sister die first, and when the fever started burning me up, I braided my hair and climbed up to the empty loft where she and I had slept our whole lives – until I crept out to be with him. And they carried her out wrapped in the blanket she died in.

It was just dreams at first. Daydream memories. Wisps that fled when I reached for them. I barely remembered that first, unremarkable life. How many others have faded from my memory as well? I can’t piece them together one after the other. How many lives passed before I realized those dreams were memories? Something about them felt more real. The details were so vivid, so specific…

It was the cat that did it. I came home late one night, wishing I had kept that tiny umbrella in my backpack as I tugged my jacket tighter around me. The cat sat on my doorstep, watching me with its unblinking green eyes. It was black with a white cross on its chest and little white socks on its front left and rear right paws. As I climbed the stairs and tugged out my entry card, it wound around my feet as if it had known me for years.

My memories started to splinter into the waking moments, as I opened the creaky old door, and the cat ran in front of me, then tried to trip me by stretching out on the stairs in front of me as I climbed. By the time we reached my door, my fingers were shaking so badly, I could hardly hold them still over the keypad. My mind’s eye kept showing my hand struggling with an old-fashioned key in the handle, even though there was no handle, and I’d never kept keys as an adult.

I staggered through the doorway and into the living room, not bothering to turn on any lights. Plenty filtered in from the buildings along the Charles River. I collapsed on the couch and remembered the first time I had picked up that cat as a fluffball of a kitten. I was eight, and I followed my older brother Gilles up the ladder to the hayloft of our uncle’s barn. In the village of Montegny, France. In 1673…

Dogs in House
Houdini, Brindle, Malachi

Time writing
50 Minutes

March word count

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