02 December 2015

Brynja and Eirikr, Chapter Zero

Everything that I've ever written that was even remotely worth reading began with words that were cut from the final project. They were beautiful words that I loved, but they had to go. They weren't necessary to the reader and they slowed everything down. But they were very necessary to me as a writer. They told me things about the story I was writing that I needed to know. Chapter Zero will be an occasional series of first things I've written. If they ever grow into bigger things, these first things will almost certainly pass away. In the meantime, I welcome comments, questions, suggestions and harsh criticism. 

Eirikr and I have a once in a lifetime love. Once in several lifetimes, actually. I have loved him in seven lifetimes that I remember and I have lost him in six. Now his sits before me, thinking his name is Jason and that he is a student in my Introduction to Ancient History class. He came by during office hours seeking feedback on his research paper.

I am Brynja, and I am one thousand years old. My body is Mary Ellen and it is forty-six. Eirikr's body is Jason, and it is 20. 

His paper is garbage and I was in the middle of telling him so when I recognized him and everything about us came back to me. I nearly shouted his name out loud. He would have known me then. He would have called me Brynja and he would have kissed me and all hell would have broken loose in the history department. Instead I told him I had a phone call I had to take and I asked him to step outside so I could do the math.

This is what I know: Eirikr and I fell in love a thousand years ago in a dark, cold place in what is now Scandinavia. We were young and we were sure we would live forever. I died in childbirth. The baby died too.

I knew myself again when my Bridghid body heard his Eaderyn body call my true name. A week later he died in my arms of a disease modern doctors would easily cure. 

We believe that we have found each other in every life we have lived, but we cannot be sure. We are sure that once one us recognizes the other, Eirikr will die within a week. In my most recent life I was Anna, godmother to the infant son of my best friend. I recognized Eirikr in the bright blue eyes of that boy just as the Priest asked me to name the child. I nearly choked. The godfather, spoke the boy's name, Gilbert, and no one asked why my voice had been so muffled. That night I wrote a letter to my best friend.

Dear Sarah,
 I have to leave. I am sorry that I cannot explain, and I am sorrier still that I cannot stay to watch Gilbert grow up. Please know that it is for the best and that I love you as dearly as if you were my sister.
Please forgive me.

I fled across the country to a tiny place and lived another 30 years. I knew that if I stayed Eirikr would eventually recognize me, or I would blurt out his name and one of us would die and while I had faced a lot of death in my lifetimes, I could not face the death of that tiny child. The only hope to save him was to flee so that he would never recognize me. I didn't know if it would work. I had to try. And if it didn't work, and my best friend suffered the loss of her son without me? It was still worth the attempt.

His Jason body is 20 and when I have taken a few breaths to steady myself I realize that he could have lived a full life as Gilbert before dying and being born as Jason. It might have worked.  


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