In the mere blink of an eye, the depot is replaced by an all-too familiar landscape. Asphalt and dirt paths duck under trees throwing their darker, dead foliage all over the brilliant, green grass where rows of stone wait to be remembered. Everything inside of me instantly shrivels, tries to shrink away from that which I am unready to face.
“I don’t want to be here,” I shake my head. “Why is this different? How is it all encompassing and so sudden?”
“Because, this is not a place of your own imaginings,” My companion answers. “This is a place that exists on Earth, in the land of the living. A place that you physically visited in your last life.”
This brings me no peace! I still do not want to be there. I don’t want these kind of answers. Yet, a part of me knows that it was passed time to receive them. That I’d been avoiding this very moment all the while. In a last stubborn attempt of desperate anxiety, I turn to my companion to plead with him to wait…
…and I see him. I see all of him. Standing there before me with a lamb lying at his feet; a one-dimensional lamb of patina infected bronze. I drink in the full features of his face. His build is nearly identical to our mother’s father, and he is of the same height. The ginger hair, passed down through the bastards of the British Royals on our paternal grandmother’s side… he has our father’s blue eyes. All I can do is cry. I burrow my face into my hands and cry.
“I’ve been with you all along,” My brother says.
“You left!” I sob, lashing out in an emotional way that surprises me more than him. I hadn’t realized I was angry. Ever. Even in life, I’d been unaware. It made less sense now, yet it was still there.
“I know,” He says, consolingly, stepping forward. “But you knew I was there, you were more aware when you were younger. You felt me, imagined what my life would have been like. What kind of relationship we would have had. You gave me a past, present and a future in your mind. Let me experience playing sports, going to high school and being your chauffeur…”
I give a watery laugh that helps dispel some of the sorrowful anger. The emotions filling my chest are not like the ones before, they’re powerful, triple what I would’ve been capable of feeling in life. The enormity of it, the fullness, is nearly overwhelming.
“You’ve always wanted to know one thing from me,” He continues. “Just one.”
Wiping at my tears, I look my older brother in the face and feel as I’d always felt. A strong, purely spiritual connection, for I’d never known him even for a second in life. He’d been born and died a year before my birth to the very month. My mother said that I’d saved Christmas for them. Had I not been born in December…
“Did you do it on purpose?” I demand. “Did you leave, so that one of us could be born, instead? Would they have stopped at two children no matter what?”
This once loving thought, an idea to help my youthful mind try to understand why I’d been robbed of an older brother before ever getting the chance to have one, had once comforted me. I’d admired him for such a sacrifice, if it were true, but not any longer. Now, the very thought of it felt like a betrayal of some kind.
Shaking his head, my brother smiles. “No,” He replies, giving me an answer I’d waited so very long to get. “I merely honored my end of a prior arrangement. We know, we’ve discussed at length that experience makes us stronger. They wanted to experience that kind of loss on a level they felt would be easier to handle. But loss is never easy to handle, especially when it’s that of your own child.”
“You were the last of dad’s bloodline,” I state in a rise of anguish, recalling how many times my father had grieved over that fact, growing bone-weary of being the family genealogist long before passing the buck onto me.
“They all end at some point,” My brother replies, but there’s a light sparkling in his eyes.
“You’ve been with him!” I gasp, feeling the burst of joy pull at the corners of my mouth and ease the thickness in my chest.
“Yes,” He nods, smiling. “Mother, too. Here and in other lifetimes. Worry not, little sister, I’ve spent quite a lot of time with all of you. And I’ll prove it, so that you may finally forgive me.”