Always Being Born

I suppose my story begins with my birth. But which one?

The truth is I was born a liar, and like all liars, I’m being born all the time. A new beginning whenever that resurrective urge tickles the tongue. I’ve lived countlessly.

And died just the once.

Ah, but that’s what you want to know about.

It’s a pity, really. Just as an unripe fruit yields only bitterness, there’s nothing to be gleaned from death but the truth. From the soil of the grave, many things will grow. None sweet.

Well. If you insist.

I drowned.

Our eyes aren’t meant to see through water. I could just make out the sparkle of the sun on the waves far, far above me. The column of bubbles rising to meet it.

My hands thrashed with more strength than I knew I had. My feet were bound together, mermaid style, pulled taut by the stone at the end of the rope. Dragged down, down, down.

Liquid burst into me where liquid should never be. And when the water in my lungs turned to fire, I died.

Death had already leeched away the memories of pain and panic, and everything that had come before. The body that had held them was gone. The tense agonies of my final moments had been loosened. The long yarn of my life was unraveled to its end.

I wondered who I had been. How old. I thought about what kind of person gets themselves tied to a stone on a sunny day. Who had done the tying, and why. Where the water was that had been so deep. If the metallic taste in my mouth had been saltwater or blood.

A being appeared before me. Radiant as a sun-struck mirror, it was painful to look. It had the form of a man or a woman, but was neither one nor both. It gestured sharply, sending out ripples of light that scorched my vision.

COME.

The word thundered in my mind.

“Who are you?” I uttered softly. It gave no answer.

COME.

“Where?” I cried. “Where do you want me to go?”

COME.

The unbearably bright form turned away.

Shielding my eyes, I followed.

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