I had known for a long time that I had lived many past lives. I didn’t need regression therapy or hypnosis to help me realize that. The memories were always in the back of my mind, even though I was always in the present. I’m not sure why my brain was wired that way, but every body I occupied, it was the same.
I was okay with that. For several lives, I knew what to expect and what my purpose was. But all of that changed when I met Sylvia. Or, actually, the first time her name was Bakari. Born into a rich Egyptian family, she was beautiful, with dark hair and dark eyes that stopped me in my tracks the day I saw her in the market place. I knew she was meant to be with me, but she died at age 10, shortly before my 37th birthday.
Over the centuries, she’d been born into different bodies. She had different faces and different colors of skin, but I always, always knew it was her. No matter how the gods tried to hide her from me, I always found her.
I’ve never spoken to her. We always exchange glances in passing, but I know she knows. Most of the time, she’s too young to understand, or I am, but we know. Nothing needs to be said.
That’s the problem with soul mates. These days it’s somewhat of a romantic term, used to describe people who couple off and live happily ever after. But this…this is different. She’s the other half to whatever it is I carry inside me.
I like to think of it like pizza. She may be pepperoni and I may be pineapple, but we’re still halves to the same whole. We still have the same contents, underneath our toppings. But, unlike pizza, our halves never get made at the same time.
It was frustrating and demoralizing. For a long time, she would come into my life when I was an old man at the end of his days, and she just a small child. Then, it switched and she was a dying elderly woman every time I was born. No doubt some sick joke by the powers-that-be. But, there seems to be a cycle, and I think we are finally in the right place to meet. I hesitate to think that too hard or believe it too readily. It makes my insides twist like they do in the moment before death.
But this time, I have found her. I am a student at a university, much like I was the first time I saw her, but this time she is a student as well. I saw her in the library, bent over a book at a desk, reading, and when someone called her name she lifted her head. Gold strands of hair fell around bright blue eyes, which she happened to turn on me before to her friend.
I felt it then. That electricity that makes you feel like the world has stopped. If the confusion on her face was any indication, she felt it too. She hid it though, which makes me think that she doesn’t remember all of those lives; all those little moments when we were near but so far.
I have to remind her. I have to keep her this time. I need to know what the other half of my insides look like. I have to stop the cycle. I have to understand why we’ve been kept apart all of these years.
She’s sitting at a coffee table now, in an on-campus bookstore. She’s sipping her latte and reading, and I’m walking across the parking lot. My knees are shaking and my hands are tucked tightly into the pockets of my coat, but I won’t turn back now.
Finally, I’m within feet of her table, and her eyes are lifting to meet mine.
There it is again! That look…
I stop in front of her, offering a nervous smile. “Sylvia?” I ask tentatively.
For one long, heart-wrenching moment, she is confused, on the verge of telling me to go away. But then, her face eases and a smile pulling at her lips.
My heart lurches at the sound of that name, from so long ago. “It’s Henry now,” I say easily.
Sylvia’s smile widens. “I’ve been waiting for you.”