Chapter 1

An entire lifetime wasted. My life was a total waste. I lived, I died. There was nothing useful or meaningful in between. Sure, I had kids, so my "legacy" could continue, but what good is that when I'm not even sure there IS a future. I was born in 1956. I died in 1999. Death was a little of a joke. I choked on an olive. Nobody around me was smart enough to do the Heimlich. I didn't even like olives. Still don't. That is the beginning of my curse.

Yes, I am cursed. I am immortal. At least it seems that way so far. Every time I die, I am born. I'd love to say "born again," but that has religious overtones that I'd rather not imply. In addition, it's not really "again" when it's the SAME birth. By the way, no matter how many times it happens, getting your head crushed by a birth canal is NOT fun.

My second life was exciting and fun. I "knew" the future, so life was pretty easy. I partied, screwed around, partied, and screwed around, ad infinitum. So, in reality, ANOTHER lifetime wasted. I didn't even live much longer the second time. I made it to 54 that time. It was a car wreck. My driver was high, ala Princess Diana. In our case, we didn't have paparazzi chasing us as an excuse.

Number 3: Finally, I realized something was more than a little weird. During the first repeat, I thought I was just a lucky guy. The second got me thinking. I know what you're going to ask. "Didn't you think during your SECOND life?" Sure, I did. I thought "Sweeeeeeet! I'm gonna be RICH and GET LAID and SWEEEET. I never claimed to be the sharpest pencil in the drawer. Most people would have done some kind of self-inspection. I am not proud to say I did no such thing. I just coasted through. It took me nearly 100 years of life to even acknowledge the age old philosophical question "why." Without the two (quite painful) deaths, I might have taken even longer. Death HURTS.

Did I mention I'm not all that smart?

The beginning of my story really starts with my third life. I went from crushed and bleeding in a car crash to crushed and suffocating. Ever wonder why babies cry right after they are born? I can't speak for the others, but I can tell you it HURTS. Not as much as death, but still quite painful. The first breath hurts in a way that's hard to describe. Of course, it's hard to describe because thinking is very hard at that age. I've learned a bit about brain development, and I can say from personal experience, babies DO NOT think like adults! I expect you perverts out there will say things like "I bet it was awesome to suck on your mama's tits" and other similar lame comments. Let me stop it before it goes any further. As a BABY, even with a lot of extra memories, your mind focuses on Eating, Sleeping, and Pooping. Not all that exciting. The best thing I can say about that time is memories don't form effectively. I don't really remember specifics, even after doing it far more than once. Things really don't start getting clearer until about 5 years of age, at least for me. Around that age, each time, I realize where I am and what has happened. Before that, it's almost like I'm drugged. I can't think about much other than the moment. My mom and dad always think I'm super smart for talking early, but it's not all that unusual for kids to talk really young. Since I'm not really "awake" before around 5, my time as a baby and toddler is not much different from any other child. Third life, 4 years 10 months old: The question came to me. "Why?" Why, indeed. Still unable to think in totally abstract terms, (that doesn't hit until around 11-12years) I simply cried. After that, I didn't talk much. My parents took me to the doctor, then a psychiatrist, and finally the pastor of our church. I told them nothing. For the next year, I barely spoke to my parents, let alone anyone else. I spent that year thinking about what had happened and specifically "why." Guess what? No answer ever occurred to me. Even now, I still have no answer. One thing good that came from that year was the realization that the ONLY thing I could take with me from one life to the next was knowledge. For the first time in over 100 years, I focused on education. I might not have been all that smart, but I could at least become educated.

I began in first grade. My parents had kept me out of kindergarten, because of my seeming disability. Once in first grade, I excelled. It's amazing how easy it is to convince teachers you are smart by reading. It's a point of dishonor that I actually NEEDED elementary education after going through it twice before. My first wasted life I was a functional illiterate. My second, I didn't do much better. School had seemed pointless since I was rich. Now, I attacked school as if it was my salvation. Another lesson learned. School teachers get a bit freaked out by kids who refuse to play or take recess. By the end of first grade, I had tempered my lust for knowledge with the certainty that I'd never learn well if the teachers didn't help. From that point, I "played the game" of school. I used the school library endlessly, but in class I just learned as any kid does. By the 5th grade, I was starting to read classic literature for entertainment.

In my third life, the most important thing I learned was patience. Yes, I finally got a high school diploma. Yes, I continued to college. And, yes, I was able to make tons of money. College was extremely difficult. It was there that I found patience. The realization that time was not my enemy. It took me 9 years to get my first undergrad degree. NINE years. It wasn't even a hard degree or a top school. I went to my nearest state university. I didn't even have a specific major. My degree just said "of the Arts" with no detail. Regardless, I was thrilled to cross that stage when the time came.

After that first degree, I took time to see the world. Even with the easy money I had in my second life, I had never left my home state. In my third, I explored. I started in Egypt and finished in Ecuador. I wasn't really done. The world is a fantastically huge place, but fate is a cruel mistress. I only made it to 39 years old that time. Something I ate in Ecuador put me in the hospital. Take it from me; you DO NOT want to go to a hospital in rural Ecuador!

My fourth life had one great distinction. It was my first "complete" life. I died of natural causes for the first time. It was a simple heart-attack, but at the ripe old age of 69. Those 69 years were very fruitful. I didn't bother with accumulating wealth this time. This time, I used my foreknowledge to help my parents. When I was almost 5, and what I was finally became clear to me, I decided I didn't want to go through the small town public school system as I had before. I used a simple tactic. I explained to my mother exactly what had happened to me. I told her everything, but of course she just smiled and laughed at my imagination. It took a recitation of Robert Frost's "The Gift Outright" just before his own reading on the radio at JFK's inauguration before my mother fainted.

I helped my parents make enough money to send me to a decent private school. I didn't give them enough info to get crazy rich, but they were able to buy a house and live comfortably after that. My dad still worked just as hard as he always had, he just got to drive a nicer car. At the ripe age of 7 (+136) I entered the world of the "rich kid."

Private school was helpful to me in a few ways, but the most important was learning HOW to learn. I had now been through the public school system 3 times and college once. In that entire time, I never learned the most important lesson of scholastic endeavors. Educational learning is a skill. It can be learned and it can be taught. For three lifetimes, I had heard about problems with schools. Kids not learning, schools needing more money, teachers needing higher pay, test scores dropping. I never gave them any consideration until I was taught to learn. One teacher, one student. Something public schools could never achieve. For the next 7 years, I progressed at an incredible rate. At 14, I started college. This time, I was there to LEARN.

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Story tagged with:
Science Fiction / Time Travel /