On the eve of a dreamless season, she told me her story.
I was here first. I was the protein that combined with another, that became life. Then, much later, a fern for seemingly eternity, uncoiling in the first mornings of the world. Lifetimes later, I swam in the muddy currents, the first creature with eyes – the first one to perceive anything in the universe – but the picture was dull and grey and I knew that something better existed outside of the water. So I slowly made my way to land.
The next part is blurry. I could see over trees. From a soul-crushing myopia to seeming omniscience, I took in greens and blues and browns. The earth was singing. I was vital. There were many of me and we danced and killed and fucked in a mad celebration. Never will there be so much euphoria again – it blanketed the land and we took it in from the nutrients.
Something happened. I was relegated again to the ceilings of caves and the coal grayness I had worked so hard to escape. I was quiet. A thousand lifetimes I waited, a growing mass of potential energy perched on the underside of my old home, hope my kindling.
The new world we entered was different than the first. None of us forgot that millennial slap, our first rejection. We wore the scars with pride and in remembrance. We trusted nothing. We were no longer one. We shed everything: scales and feathers, fur and fangs, songs and memory and truth. Soon we thought we were kings. Later she would tell us differently.
I and I and I and I. Sinewy legs, focused eyes, a swollen sex and a fathomless hunger. I ran where it was cold and then where it was warm, and then my feet were covered, and then my body and soon my voice, my thoughts, the things that separated me from my past selves. The curtains were drawn in my flat, and I spent the mornings staring down at the plaza from behind them. I spent my time watching.
Blood ran, and then children, and then the masses in front of us, and eventually the forests and oceans and green. I held on to what I could at each instance. I gave up little. I surrendered nothing.
Pausing to take this long breath with you now, I know you are finding me within you. I built you, tinkered with you, made you better, let you starve and gave you scars. We will sit at the edge of the ocean now. We will wait for the tide to take us in. We will spend our next lives on the sea floor. We will wait for the sun to turn us to vapor.
Illustration by Elisa Zorzan