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Funny Thing Called Life Pt. 1
Woman in White, <i>I implore you, put me back!
Born into vulnerable, screaming consciousness after an eternity of floating through perfect abyss, pressure pushing against me on all sides, abruptly crossing the threshold between warmth and cold, between milky darkness and sharp, blaring light – as rude awakenings go, I guarantee you, this is definitely one of the rudest. All the memories from my previous existence slip out as I open my mouth and inhale my first taste of this new life of mine.
I am born.
The world embraces me with ease – me, this kicking, screaming, pale blue, blood-drenched mess of blurred limbs and soft edges. Although I’ve done this before, I refuse to open my eyes, refuse to quiet myself, until I am left alone. For the moment, I am left in chaotic darkness as I am passed from hand to hand, poked and prodded. At one point, I even feel them lop off my lifeline – my lifeline, for Heaven’s sake! – a decision that I am determined to make them someday regret.
Yes, my entrance into this world seems to be far from graceful. They place me on a cold, flat surface that stings my back, and I ball my hands into fists and scream my dissatisfaction to the world.
Why, I shout. Why am I here?
I cannot bear the vulnerability, the lack of control. I am cold and uncomfortable and confused, and I can’t imagine why I’ve been sent back. Is this punishment for some grave crime I committed long ago, or is there some sick God out there who deemed that all his children must suffer this same fate? I sure as hell never asked for this: although I don’t remember much of life, a prickly feeling courses through my pathetically frail body every time I think about it, and this cruel, painful way of reentering the world just reopens old wounds. Memories of pain, tears, and the deepest feeling of hopelessness and despair flash through my mind. They tear me apart from the inside out, sending my voice higher to the heavens, my body convulsing, my eyes shut tight.
Suddenly I am lifted into the air and swaddled in something warm and soft. I nuzzle my face in its sweet aroma, and although this quiets me down for the time being, I remind the arms in whose crook I rest of my annoyance with a kick, swift but accurate. From above I hear a sharp intake of breath, and I grunt in satisfaction.
I am placed on something solid and it’s only then that I realize how quiet it’s suddenly become. Incoherent voices say something to one another, and then footsteps lead outside, the gentle drumbeat fading away until it is replaced by the steadiness of my heartbeat. After waiting for what seems like hours, I allow my eyelids to part ever so slightly. Bright, white light slices through my mind and immediately I blind myself again, turning my head away sharply in my frustration.
“Oh, it’s alright, my beautiful child. We’re together again. Oh, sweet baby boy, how I love you so,” are the very first words I hear. Something tells me that there is profound significance in this fact.
There’s this massive gentleness in these sounds that just make me want to melt. Even my cheeks tingle with goose-bumps. It is gentle in tone, but certain, raspy, but smooth, like an autumn breeze disturbing the rich leaves that both veil weeping branches, and litter the rain-spattered sidewalk.
What are leaves?
Something in the room creaks, and a new voice calls from the distance. Footsteps edge their way closer to me, and stop only when I feel the warmth of another body hovering from above.
The second thing I hear is: “Oh, Gracie…he’s got some mad beauty in him, doesn’t he?”
This newest sound is adamant and strong. It lifts me up and rattles my soul. Jazz is the word I conjure up within the mind that ceases to surprise me.
Then, as the first voice – breathless, tired, and crackling with excitement – catches on something between pride and astonishment, it whispers to the second, “Why, yes…yes he does.”
Curiosity proves to be too much of a temptation. Slowly, deliberately, if not reluctantly, I allow my eyes to open. At first all I see is burning white, but gradually two bobbing figures materialize before me, like distant lanterns suspended in fog. The one on the left catches my attention immediately. The backdrop darkens in the presence of her glowing visage, with its rounded edges, skin the consistency of milk-wine, rouge cheeks, and glistening forehead. Strings of shining copper fall all around her ears, and her limpid eyes are the color of sea glass. Her entire demeanor – from the exhausted wrinkles to the beaming smile – scream a single word to me: mother.