Always, In All My Lives
It’s only human to wonder what will happen to us after we die, to fear death. But I don’t have time to do any of that. Maybe I’m not human; I’ve been trying to figure it out all this time. I don’t wonder about what happens to me after death because I know: every time I die, I resurface to live another life. And each time, I can feel distant remnants of those past lives, clinging onto and dripping off me as I stumble back onto the familiar shore of childhood, adolescence, adulthood, over and over again. In this way, Lena is the same.
Ah, yes. That’s who I’m looking for.
It’s always the same thing for the two of us. We’d always come back to each other somehow. Except the one problem is that she never remembers our past, or even seems to have a hunch. The countless lives, the countless times we’ve loved each other. Lena doesn’t remember. The burden of knowing how she died time after time, always before me, left a permanent tear in my soul’s fabric. I follow her, as Eurydice followed Orpheus, except Lena never looks back. She’s always so eager to start the next life. And I am eager to search for her one more time.
However, I make it a point not to purposefully search for Lena in each life. I’ve tried several times and found it only kept us apart for longer. As hard as it is, I have to wander through my days as normally as possible and wait until we meet, serendipitously. But it’s worth it—even though our paths have crossed many times, I still get those butterflies in my stomach when I see her for the first time…when our hands touch…
This time around, I was living alone in New York City. I was twenty-six years old and still struggling to find myself, as I always have. That seems to be one thing I can never figure out. I was sitting by the window of a small café, staring out at the street as my tea got cold. The lunch rush had died down and I finally had the quiet hum of the coffee machines back. Even though Lena was a constant in all my lives, I always did like being alone. Realizing that I wouldn’t finish my tea, I decided to treat myself to a pastry so my sweet tooth would be satisfied. I got up and approached the counter, leaning toward the glass of the display case to get a better look at the selection. Nothing caught my eye until a slender brown finger cut across my line of vision.
“I love these,” a voice said. The finger tapped on the glass just above a fluffy éclair. “I can never buy just one, though. They’re so good.”
I looked up and suddenly my heart dropped like a stone.
I uttered out a few polite words in reply, but my shock couldn’t be hidden. Lena laughed that warm laugh I came to memorize, like the tune of a melody. She was still so beautiful and bright, dark hair framing her face in thick waves. Her eyes twinkled as if they held an infinite number of stars—maybe they did after all the worlds they’ve seen.
I tried to gather myself and ordered an éclair, feeling Lena’s eyes on me. I went to sit back down at my table on shaky legs and listened to her order a latte. My heart was beating too fast, too loudly. But both my heart and I froze when I noticed Lena walking towards my table. “I’m sorry if this seems weird,” she began with a curious look in her eyes. “But…do we know each other from somewhere?”
I started to deny it like I usually did but before I could get a word out, Lena interrupted. “I don’t know how I know this but your name…is Jasmine, isn’t it?”
“You remember?” was all I could say.
Lena nodded slowly. “Yes, I think I do. Everything.”
Autumn Janelle Hutson is a writer, poet, and tarot reader. She recently graduated from George Mason University with a BA in English and concentration in creative writing. She hopes to work with other creatives and writers to uplift their voices along with her own. She’s recently had her poem “Snakeskin” published in Disquiet Arts. You can find more of her writing at autumnj-hutson.medium.com.