Home > Memories of a Life (Life #4)

Memories of a Life (Life #4)
Author: Jewel E. Ann

 


CHAPTER ONE

 

 

“Colten messages me hourly. Does he really think I want to know what he had for lunch? Does he need to know our dinner plans at ten in the morning? Do I care that a friend of a friend is pregnant with triplets?”

Dr. Byrd rests an ankle on his opposing knee, wearing an expression of deep thought.

I continue, “He bought new black boots for work. His mom is taking water aerobics. A funny TikTok. Detective Rains has a hangnail.” I roll my eyes. “Okay, not that one, but nearly as ridiculous. He sends all these messages when what he really wants to say is, ‘Are you doing okay? Have you thought about that girl, the one you think you were? Have you made an appointment with your psychiatrist? Are you still planning on marrying me? Have you told anyone else about your theory?’”

“Have you?” Dr. Byrd asks.

“Listen … it’s not a theory. I haven’t been wrong once since the day I woke from my near-death experience. I want to be wrong. This isn’t the kind of ‘right’ anyone would find satisfying. But no, I haven’t told anyone except the Nashville police. If I didn’t have the credentials that I do, there’s little doubt that I would have been committed by now.”

“Do you believe in reincarnation?” he asks.

“I think I’ve reached the point of ‘if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck.’ Tomorrow the clouds could part and angels could descend from heaven. If that happens, even the most headstrong atheists will take a moment to rethink their beliefs. So … yeah. I’m inclined to believe in reincarnation since I have such inexplicable things in my head from a time way before the existence of Josephine Watts from Des Moines, Iowa.”

“Tell me about the girl.”

“The one I was in another life?”

He nods.

I shake my head. “I don’t know. I just remember the feeling. Feeling scared. Feeling the edge of the straight blade against my scalp. It cut me. He told me to hold still.”

“Who told you?”

“Winston Jeffries.”

“Are you sure?”

I glance up at Dr. Byrd. “Who else would it be?”

“I don’t know. I just want to know if you’re sure it was him or if you might be deducing it from the information you’ve gathered online coupled with the visions in your head.”

“No. I mean …” I rub my temples. “I don’t know. I just want to forget. Whatever’s in my head, I want to forget it. I felt a responsibility to follow through and figure it out. Now that I have, I just want to forget about it. It wasn’t a premonition. I don’t feel the urgency to prevent these girls from dying.”

“Are you back to work?”

“Two weeks.” I blow out a long breath. “I need work. I need my mind to find its place again.”

“And the engagement? Are you making wedding plans?”

I laugh. “No. I haven’t told my parents yet.”

“Why?”

“Because …” I shake my head. “I don’t know if I can be that girl he murdered and be a bridezilla.”

“Has Colten told his family?”

“I don’t know.”

“You haven’t asked him?”

“He’s … I don’t know. He’s okay, yet not okay. Colten and I have always danced around the truth. For as long as I can remember, we’ve made our own reality. We’ve had front row seats to watching the rest of the world and acting like it doesn’t affect us if we don’t let it.”

“How has that worked for you?”

“It’s amazing, until it’s catastrophically heartbreaking.”

Dr. Byrd gives me a slow nod. He’s clueless. I don’t mean it disrespectfully. I’m his “undetermined.” Undetermined sucks.

We wind up our session with me feeling none the better. If I’m not going to let him medicate me, he’s helpless. I don’t think patients with near-death experiences comprise a large percentage of his clientele.

When I get home, I scroll through my emails to find the parapsychologist in Berkeley. I missed my appointment. It’s time to reschedule.

 

 

CHAPTER TWO

 

 

Two students dressed in trench coats went on a shooting spree at Columbine High in Littleton, Colorado.

Colten’s mom refused to let him watch the news. She wanted to protect him and his brother from such evil. We were twelve, so it wasn’t out of line with good parenting.

“Let’s talk about this,” Dad said to me a few nights after the horrific massacre. He and Mom sat me down at the kitchen table, and we discussed the events. It’s not that my parents weren’t “good” parents; they just had a different definition of good parenting.

“We don’t want you to be afraid to go to school,” Mom said, setting a plate of cookies and a glass of milk next to me.

“I’m not.”

“That’s good, but if you have questions—”

“Someone said they were bullied in school, and that’s why they did it,” I said.

“Well, we might never know since they’re no longer alive.” Dad leaned back a fraction and crossed his thick arms.

“What if they weren’t bullied?”

“What do you mean?” he asks.

“What if they just wanted to kill people because … they liked it?”

Rarely were my parents speechless, but that night, they had nothing. Not one word.

Finally, Mom cleared her throat. “Why do you think anyone would kill other humans for … fun?”

I shrugged. “I overheard one of my teachers talking to another teacher in the hallway. She said the boys were psychopaths. So I stopped by the library on my way home from school and looked up psychopath.”

“Um … Jo, you’re twelve. I don’t think it’s a good idea for a twelve-year-old to study psychopaths.” Dad’s face wrinkled. “It’s a lot for your immature brain.”

“Nothing is wrong with my brain. You’ve always said I’m too smart for my own good.”

They laughed, but it was an uneasy laugh.

“If they were bullied, it would mean they hated the kids they killed. But psychopaths don’t have feelings like that. They think they are better than everyone else. They don’t feel bad about the things they do. They don’t think about what other people are feeling when they do bad things to them. They don’t have any regrets. Can you imagine doing bad things and not feeling guilty? You don’t feel guilty when you shoot a deer, do you, Dad? Or if you have to shoot a bank robber, right?”

Dad coughed, bringing his fist to his mouth and easing his head side to side. “That’s … that’s different, Jo. I’m not a psychopath. I would never hurt innocent people, and if I did by accident, I would feel terrible. Remorseful. Pained.”

I roll my eyes. “I wasn’t calling you a psychopath. I’m just saying, maybe those two boys had something wrong with them that made them not feel bad about killing other humans the way you don’t feel bad about the deer. Dustin Santi told me people eat dogs in other countries the way we eat cows or chickens here. So what I think is kinda weird and gross is not weird and gross to other people. I bet those two boys who killed those kids would have eaten dogs. Don’t you think?”

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