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My earliest carcass didn’t know of time; in that life, it didn’t matter, didn’t exist. Yet, as what I now know was a bee, I existed. In that life, I didn’t bother to distinguish a difference between real or fake. Everything was real, it just was and so were you. You were a flower with pollen softer than that of any other and with nectar that was more than sweet. I rested within you at the base of your filaments. Too soon after leaving your safety, I was attacked, and as a consequence of defending myself, I died. That life, I learned, was just as fragile as that body.
The first time I was born warm, I was a deer. During my adolescent years as a fawn, I discovered fear and understood that I was prey. In nature, predators hunt. But not every bullet is a bullseye, the hole in my left ear was proof of that. When I ran, I ran into you. A spotted back deer with almost perfectly placed dots that resembled an array of white daisies along your spine and budding antlers. Your eyes smiled at me and I tasted that same honeyed nectar in my closed mouth. In that moment, I forgot that we weren’t alone with just the trees and snow, that we were still prey. Sniffing, you leaned in closer and on impulse I licked your snout. You didn’t pull back in shock or disgust but instead nuzzled into me; your fur much silkier than mine. Your pulse was strong, steady, and secure. You pulled back, danced away with your fore hooves leaving a trail of blood behind, and I wandered after you, dazed. A crack echoed through my haze that made my knees weak. My body grew heavy, faster than exhaustion could explain and then I swiftly fell into blackness.
I opened my eyes and cried out when the doctors spanked me to make sure I’d respond. My father didn’t cut my umbilical cord and my mother didn’t keep me. As an orphan child who could now recognize their own reflection, I was taught about language, science, math, reality, and time. None of which could explain the dreams I would have. Language gave me words to describe the world around me while science taught me how it all worked and math taught me nothing. Life was more complicated now with the idea of reality and I often found myself asking, if time is real then why aren’t my dreams?
When I turned eight, your parents died. I found you in the backyard scrutinizing the rose bushes with wet red eyes and a nose covered with snot and pollen. You had stopped to smell the roses and when they gave you no comfort you heaved your hands into the brush to tightly grip its thorns. Sighing, you let go, and while staring at your bleeding hands, you turned around towards me. After dropping your hands to your side, you looked up and I smelt daisies as you stared straight at me. An embarrassed smirk struck your face and you ran off. I was adopted the next day.
In the winter of 1969, I was 19 and you pulled me out onto the dance floor at an underground club. While you tugged me, I noticed the slightly raised scars I felt on your still soft palms and the wild flowers you had tattooed in your armpits; I thought, how can she have velvet-like hands and yet still be so hardcore? With smooth movements, honey whiskey, and pain on your breath, you kissed me. In the chaos of veering vessels we stood, clashing teeth. I knew it was you and that the hands you had tangled in and pulling my hair were the same ones that once coiled themselves around thorns, but I doubted that you recognized me at all in the dim light. You bit my lip, breaking skin, pushed yourself off me, and vanished into the crowd just as fast as you had emerged from it. So I left. Clumsily, I fell into the passenger seat of my drunk best friend’s car. When he couldn’t remember that sticking the key in the ignition and turning it would start the car, I chose to walk. Even then, at the top of the food chain, I was still prey and I was vulnerable. My muffled mind didn’t register the sound of steps following me. I didn’t hear the stranger demand me to give them all I had or the cock of their gun. I didn’t feel the bullet pierce my body or the thud I made when I hit the ground. Not too soon after, I couldn’t feel anything. Maybe it was the shock of realizing too late how fragile life itself is that numbed me, or the disbelief of just how greedy humanity can be, or how quickly it all passed. More abrupt than that kiss.
I was last born warm, but in cold waters, and even though I was small compared to my new family, I was still bigger than most everything else in the ocean. My sense of taste was warped and smell was out of the question, but I could suddenly remember everything. Memories that I couldn’t have made here flooded my conscious, enlightening me about what I now was, a great blue whale. I remembered you and how you were always there. Whenever I was, you were too, and we would always meet, but why? Of all the memories that came back to me, there wasn’t one where I questioned who you are to me. I’d always just accepted you. And it wasn’t because I loved you; how could I, I never knew you. But you were always there before I died. And what of the in between scenes; it’s as if each transition slowly came out of this blank black nothing like a developing polaroid picture. Is there no limbo? Was it all a dream? Is time still relevant or even real?
Still, it’s only a matter of time till I see you again, and I am eager to die. Hopefully, the next life will leave me with more answers than questions.