INCARNATION

She was living an existence filled with misery and suffering, where the only escape would be death. It was all that she could see, despite being told constantly, and from all angles, that it wasn’t that bad. It only made things worse to have everyone who bothered to get close to her offer soothing words of ‘things would be alright, just let them be’; it only reinforced her belief that she was trapped in her own private hell, and that everyone around her was at liberty only amplified her imprisonment.

Despite that terrible understanding, she couldn’t bring herself to die. She assumed that her cowardice for the act was a further punishment, but the reality that she refused to acknowledge was that she was more afraid of what awaited beyond the endless toil of living. It was the unknown that she feared most of all, the things that lurked in the deep shadows of the room before a flick of a light switch banished them; the hidden desires behind the eyes of the men who appraised her whenever she came near them; the subtle chemicals that were blended into her twice-daily glasses of milk. Death was the greatest unknown of them all, and she hid her face whenever she contemplated forcing herself into it. Which was often, often enough that it would cause real concern to anyone who knew about it. But she kept her desire for escape hidden, like an expert spy or a sniper encased in a ghillie suit lying prone in some wasteland of the soul, invisible to all but lying face-down in plain sight.

She couldn’t say if she’d always been that way. The closer she got to her 50s the further removed she was from whatever fading shreds of innocence she’d been born with. Perhaps some great trauma had occurred in her youth; if it had she’d blocked it, submerged it deep in the labyrinthine passages of her mind, buried it in the loamy soil of memory and kicked dirty leaves over it for good measure, making certain not to bother with any headstone. She would never submit to therapy and so such a horrible occurrence, had it even occurred at all, would never be exhumed. There was the more realistic possibility, by her thinking anyway, that she’d been born that way. She liked to imagine that whatever it was that had made her so dark had happened long before she’d come mewling forth from between her mother’s legs in that great spasm of birth. A past life where she’d not lived up to her potential, and so had been doomed to repeat it, and again found herself trapped in a horrible loop of mediocrity.

Was it luck? She didn’t know. She thought that destiny was real, and that fate was predetermined. It was the reason she continued to trudge through her bleak existence, in search of whatever terminal horizon that would bring awareness to a screeching halt, so that she might have another chance to cast the cosmic dice and be born again, perhaps into a life less tragic.