Liana noticed both Sanella and Ezra locked in an intense conversation and she walked in.
Ezra looked a little stricken and Sanella looked smug, which was strange because ever since he had gotten her pregnant Ezra had stuttered around like a peacock whereas Liana had become a recluse, embarrassed at having fallen pregnant because of a one night stand; she very rarely left her office.
Liana walked in, and they both jumped.
“You want to publish it?” Ezra asked, recovering some of his composure.
Liana met Sanella’s distressed gaze.
“Why do you hesitate?” Ezra asked,
“Morally, I’m not sure if it is the right thing to do.”
Ezra looked confused for a moment before nodding.
“Both Jonah and Eleanor are patients at the institute, and you blame yourself for making them recount their lives.”
He phrased it like a statement but Liana nodded.
“The more they remembered of their past lives the –”
“The crazier –”
“We don’t say the word crazy!” Sanella reprimanded.
“Fine, the more they remembered of their past lives the more mentally unstable they became, and from the looks of all the other people you interviewed it appears that this is a trend.” Ezra said nodding, as he began to pace.
“So now your fear is; that people will think that there is no such thing as mental health issues, just people who have remembered something they shouldn’t.”
“We are not supposed to remember our past lives.” Sanella said softly.
They were all quite for a long time.
“Do you ever wonder how many things have been discovered and kept a secret because we are just not ready to face some truths?” Ezra mused.
“It is for the greater good,” Liana said, “tragedy has plagued Jonah and Eleanor for decades, because their love was too strong, it overrode any commands of the brain to not remember. Maybe if they are lucky; in their next life they can forget enough to enjoy a love they have waited two life-times for.”
Jonah waited beside Eleanor’s bed, the doctors were confused, a woman of thirty with no history of health issues didn’t simply have a seizure and slip into a coma for a month. Jonah didn’t care what the experts said, he would wait for his Eleanor, he had already waited one life time for her and he didn’t mind waiting another.
It came as no surprise to him when she awoke and called out to him.
“I remember,” she said softly. “My darling Francis, I remember.”
“If it hurts you, then don’t.” He had said to her, brushing her dark her away from her forehead, so different from the lighter shade she’d had in her previous life, with the thought came a piercing pain in his head but he fought through it.
“I have to know, I need to. On the train tracks that day, what happened?” She asked her voice urgent, as though she knew her mind wouldn’t last long in this fluid state.
“We were supposed to meet one last time, but the train it hit you,” Jonah said carefully, “I died a few years later, working on the railway, I couldn’t be away from trains from you.”
Eleanor smiled sadly.
“How can it be that we have loved each other for two lifetimes, but never really get to be together?”
Jonah hugged her tightly as his mind started to rebel.
“I don’t know Miss Marie-Ann, I don’t know.”
Francis tried not to stare as Miss Marie-Ann walked past him, she looked good but then she always did.
Usually accompanied by her sister or brother she was alone today, and she came closer.
Francis checked the time and grinned, “More like afternoon today but –” The words died on his lips as he locked eyes with her for the first time. She gasped and he felt a strange sensation pass through him and he was suddenly filled with the conviction that he would love her forever. The thought both startled and scared him. He looked around quickly before ducking his head and getting back to fixing the fence.
Miss Marie-Ann waited; he could feel her watching him for a long time before she walked away, when he looked up again it was to find her still watching him, the sensation and feeling of breathlessness shocked his system again.
It was not the last time he would see her, she kept passing by, every day, stopping to talk, at first he tried to keep the conversation to a minimum, but it was almost impossible to resist her, she was like the sun, her appeal magnetic.
They fell hard and fast, times were changing but not fast enough for their love to survive such a volatile climate. Staying together was causing their relatively peaceful town to choose and violence kept erupting between the two races.
She struck a deal that broke his heart, even more so when he found a letter she had left for him at the fence.
Throwing all caution to the wind, he refused to let their love die and consign her to a life of misery.
She agreed to meet one last time near the tracks.
Sanella looked up as Ezra stormed into the office.
He looked down at her, his anger a palpable thing in the air.
“How may I help you?” She said pleasantly.
“A letter? You think a letter was enough to convince someone – regardless of the amount of coincidences she shared with Marie-Ann,” he interjected when she opened her mouth to argue, “was enough, you’ve taken out something, tell me now!” He demanded, his eyes too bright.
“A little obsessed?” She said with a smile.
He gave her a strange look, “Of course,” he said so earnestly that Sanella actually believed him.
“Marie-Ann was given an engagement ring when she made the deal with the Mayor’s son. Expensive and oddly unique, the ring has been lost for decades.” Sanella said and reached into her desk and pulled out the ring.
“Eleanor knew exactly where it was,”
Ezra gazed at it, he looked almost fearful.
Sanella smiled and said softly, “It is one thing to believe, quite another to be proven right.”
Ezra met her gaze. He opened his mouth to say something and closed it again.
Eleanor had first met Jonah when she was twenty eight, coming back from a party; she had bumped into him at a train station. Their eyes had locked and something inside her, that she hadn’t realised was tense, had relaxed. Her heart rate had sky rocketed and she had looked away unable to withstand the intensity of the moment any more.
She looked up again and he was still staring, a look of deep concentration on his face. Did he recognise her? Something about him seemed familiar and yet she knew she would have remembered such a handsome face.
Eleanor started as she looked up into deep brown eyes.
“I’m so sorry,” Jonah said still looking confused, “it seems like I have met you before,” he’d laughed then and Eleanor had never heard something so beautiful, “that sounds like a line but –”
“No,” she interrupted finally finding her voice, “I know exactly what you mean.”
So began a love affair that just like their previous life would end only in tragedy, because the more Eleanor and Jonah got to know each other the more the feeling of déjà vu plagued them. He knew things about her that she hadn’t told him yet and vice versa. At first they had found it funny even helpful that they seemed so in-sync but as time wore on, remembered snapshots of their past lives would encroach on their present life.
“Her name was Marie-Ann, we couldn’t be together, back then people couldn’t mix like they do now. She was white and I was black,” Jonah told Liana, “we kept it secret for as long as we could but we were found out. To say life got unbearable would be an understatement, the tenuous peace we were working towards blew up. It split the whole town in half. She cut a deal with the mayor; Mr Hopkins, to marry his son, an ignorant and violent young man, but she agreed so they would leave us alone.”
Liana had then been presented with a letter, soft and worn with age, she had the paper authenticated. It was real.
Much as I love you, and I do love you, I can no longer accept what we are doing. Your nearness, it causes great pain when you leave. Despite knowing that I will regret this decision forever, I can no longer take the pain of your presence any more – even for you. I will not put myself through it. Maybe in our next life we can try again. – MA
MA had stood for Marie-Ann Jean who had been born in 1953 and died in 1975. Eleanor Avenoso had been born nine months after Marie-Ann had died. When she had first read the letter, she had collapsed and slipped in to a coma that had confused the Doctors. But it was when she had woken up that the real problem began.
Liana paused outside Ezra’s office, she could see him reading her research, her heart began to race as she saw him pick up the letter that had started her on this path. She could still remember the look on Jonah’s face when he had presented her with the letter.
She had been working at the Havers mental institute for four months wondering if she would ever match the success of her first thesis when Jonah stopped her for a chat. Usually out of his mind on multiple medication, he seemed lucid as he gestured her over.
“Do you believe in reincarnation?” Jonah had said.
Liana had sighed and shaken her head.
“I can prove it to you.”
Liana still didn’t know what had made her stay, maybe it was the small smile on his face, but she had listened to him, and what he had said on that day and the months that followed proved to her something she would months ago had insisted was impossible.
Jonah had always wanted to prove the existence of reincarnation, but it seemed like whenever he had gotten his story straight his mind would rebel against him, as if he wasn’t supposed to remember. As if his mind was self-sabotaging to stop him from remembering to prevent him from telling his story.
But it seemed like providence when a world-renowned psychiatrist had started working at the institute, it had taken his months to get his meds reduced to he could be gather his thoughts. Despite this he hadn’t expected her to believe him, but she had. It had taken her months to get the full story out of him, relapses dogged his footsteps, the more he remembered the more his mind rebelled. But the letter and the story surrounding it, that he would never forget.
Ezra was so absorbed in the information he was reading that he was almost startled into jumping when Sanella walked up behind him.
“What are you doing here?” She said indignantly.
Instead of justifying why he was snooping around in her office, he stood up properly and met her irate gaze.
“What did she find?” Ezra said.
Sanella glared at him but then her hand settled on her stomach briefly before she looked away and sat down at her desk.
Ezra noted the action as he waited for her to continue.
“Nothing yet,” She said not meeting his gaze as she re-shuffled the documents on her desk.
“After almost two years?”
Sanella nodded absently.
“Do you know why I hired Liana?” Ezra asked.
Sanella glanced up her gaze heated. “She is an excellent researcher the best –”
“Everyone in this building is intelligent, I hired her because Liana is a scientist at heart, she likes her facts. Unlike Masla who worships Freud and loves the subconscious, I know Liana would never come to you with mere speculation.” Ezra said, “tell me what she found.”
Sanella glanced at the door and Ezra went to shut it and closed the blinds for good measure before turning to her his gaze expectant.
Sanella started laughing.
“What do you really think I’m about to tell you? That she has discovered the meaning of life?” Sanella continued to laugh.
Ezra waited patiently.
“She has,” Sanella began lightly, “proven cases of reincarnation. There now you can leave.”
“Why would I?”
“You don’t honestly believe her, do you?” Sanella said all humour gone.
“Ordinarily no,” Ezra said pausing and Sanella seemed to relax a little, “but the mere fact that you tried to keep it from me, proves that she is onto something.”
He walked to the door, “I want all her research brought to my office.”
“I can’t go to the board with this, Liana,” Sanella said shaking her head.
“Why not! I have proof –”
“What you are saying is hearsay at worst and a theory at best.”
“It’s theoretically correct.” Liana said defensively.
“Keyword; theory!” Sanella said standing, “Like a condom, that is theoretically supposed to stop you from getting pregnant, so ninety nine per cent of the time it works, but calling it a theory accounts for that one per cent where it fails you!” She said pointing to her stomach that was just starting to swell.
“But I have accounts, statements, video footage –”
“Think about what you are trying to prove, if –”
“If?! Come on Ella! When have I ever let you down?” Liana paused, “what are you afraid of?”
“Right now, of you getting us both fired or being carted off to the asylum, but if you are right and it’s a big if, I’m afraid for your life, there are going to be people who will do anything and I mean anything to make sure this never sees the light of day.” Sanella said and she felt a chill walk down her spine at her own words. “You also need to think about what this news could do to society as a whole.” Sanella said softly.
“I know,” Liana said calmly, “but come on, reincarnation.” She said reverently.