We were in a rehab for relifers. yeah, re-life-ers. It was an ensemble cast kind of dream set in a bunch of apartments that felt like a school / academy setting, with a courtyard in the middle. You were someone that I was drawn to, but we weren’t in love or dating as the dream started. I spend most of it talking to people who tell me why they’re here and what they have to atone for, their crimes that make them not achieve nirvana or what I suppose the Grand Objective is.
Some can’t remember and some remember very well, and can indicate which parts in the building it was (even if it was in other countries in a past life, everything everyone needed as a backdrop was in these flats that reminded me of school blocks).
You and I are the amongst the ones who can’t remember. But we’re drawn to each other— why?— it must have been that we were together in the previous life, or a past life. Since we are wary of repeating anything that we felt ‘already’ happened, just in case it was the ‘wrong’ thing that sent us to this rehab to begin with, we decide (separately) not to pursue the connection picked up between us.
I realize the neighbours in this reincarnation rehab remember better when the crime was more blatant. It shows as some of them walk us through the explicit crimes they committed— we’d sit in living rooms while they traced their blood pattern masterpiece on blank walls, verbally footnote the little details that changed from the last life to this living room: extra vases, different rug, that sort of thing— and how much they knew (how much you and I didn’t). We would steal glances at each other as stories went on, and it seemed to say the same thing: The subtler ones, like us, who didn’t know what we did wrong, we were the ones who got it tough. Sure, these guys are judged freely by the subtler ones like us. Psychodisassociaschizofreakillers. Although their evil was labeled clearly and they were doomed to remember each detail, the crispness of their memory meant they ultimately benefited from the peace of mind that comes from knowing exactly what their sin was. What a delightful upside to being singled out for judgement and bitchery, I thought. Here we were, thinking all sorts of nasties about the world’s scum, but only to procrastinate from the search to find out exactly what qualifies us to share this hole with them.
You finally tell me you’ve been thinking of me. We agree in the past life we all landed here from, we must have been in love. We just had to be. Madly terribly so. It was the only leftover we knew for sure carried over. Should we act on it? I asked. I think we should, you say, I think I want to hold your hand at least, while we’re in this place, while we make new friends. I protest, I say it might spark the chain of events of whatever is stopping us from moving on out of this flat and its courtyard. Maybe it is the reason we’re even here in this flat and courtyard, you say. We consider this for a few moments.
We weren’t separated, you say. I look at your hands while you pause before adding: Maybe whatever we did before, it worked.
And of course we were in love, not as much now as then, but more and more so from this conversation. We played audience to at least ten stories of blood and tears, walked through this complex with the circus of an ensemble cast we barely remember the faces of. And yet, screwed out of nirvana, and the only clue we have is that we want to hold hands, to smell each other’s necks and make breakfast together in the morning.
My hands like this plan, but I say this is the start of it again. We can’t remember what happens after this part. This only thing we share could be a trap. We’ll wake up here again.
And you say the clearest line of my dream: ninety nine more beginnings means we did this wrong a hundred times together. There’s a beginning that works eventually, by then we’ll be too happy to care that we’ll never be again. Even when we can’t remember our stories, we have to remember they weren’t caused by us. They were about us.
I thought about people this story wasn’t about— the ones who didn’t come back, like the kid who was brutally ripped off the planet by the guy upstairs. All that pure air in a toddler-shaped balloon no one ever saw again. Meanwhile the serial killers, the death rowers, the re-lifers, they get love letters in prison from over-the-hill girl-next-doors. So many neighbours.
Whatever. I hold your hand anyway.