A tale of love across time offers a glimpse of the many layers behind what we think of as the story.
Some lives, the future seems as clear as day. A young child might say, “I want to be a chef,” or another child may declare, “I’m going to be a doctor,” and it comes to pass, though it might be hard to say whether those children followed or created the blueprint for their lives.
Not so for Anna. For Anna, the only thing clear was the day itself. Anna was a tiny figure, braids hanging neatly by her side, hands folded in her lap in a moment of repose, perched on a wooden bench, her back framed by a small shack of a house, sitting perfectly still. Strain as she might to catch a hint of her future, the thin summer air yielded no answers other than its blue vastness.
Inside, Anna’s mother lay in bed, sweet and kind and totally helpless. Anna’s father had died five years back and her mother had taken to her bed for good shortly after. Now Anna and her mother lived on poor scrapings from what remained of better days and on the kindness of neighbors who hired Anna for chores and purchased vegetables from her small garden.
Anna was twelve. She was engaged to a boy of thirteen. He lived nearby, a few kilometers walk or cart ride through the woods. As was the custom, they had been betrothed as children and would marry when she turned fifteen. She had known him all her life and loved him simply and unquestioningly, like a part of herself.
Anna feared that the future would never arrive, that she would be forever poised to fly yet never take wing. She longed to catch a glimpse of her story – to snatch it out of the air or divine it in a dream. She would hold it; it would soothe her agitated soul. But the air refused to give up its secrets.
* * *
“My, you’re lovely,” he announced, quietly cutting through the party noise. I turned to look. I saw the blue eyes, the Indian shirt, the hippie beard and that ski-jump nose, but my mind’s eye flashed a great, warm, tawny lion, and me lying down to sleep peacefully at his side. I did in fact lie down with him for six years, and he was in fact a Leo. I always associated that tawny golden color with him.
The relationship was one of those magnetic things. Not overly dramatic, just natural, inevitable, in the freewheeling spirit of the late 70’s. We lived in Southern California. I was a Jewish, ex-New Yorker, English Lit major at a local university. He was an art major, a local California boy from D.A.R. Boston Brahmin stock, gone black sheep cross-country one generation back.
He had converted the garage of our rented ranch-style house into an art studio where he’d broil in the summer and freeze in the winter. He liked to smoke, both pot and cigarettes; I needed no such help for my imagination to take flight.
I was in the bedroom doing homework when the vision hit. I saw him as he had been in our last life, a 14-year old Jewish boy. I saw him come through the woods to our cabin. It was all very hurried. We held each other. He looked into my eyes and made a solemn vow to come back for me and then he disappeared into the woods.
I wanted to go with him but couldn’t. He wouldn’t let me. I couldn’t leave my mother. It was too dangerous. He’d go ahead and scout an escape route. He’d come back for us and lead us to safety. Or he’d join the fighters in the woods, find the enemy and return to us the hero that he already was in my eyes. That night was breathless and terrible, but we knew we would find each other again soon. We had a life yet to live.
I never saw him again. Before he could come back for us, before I could even learn what happened to him, I was pulled out of our home. My mother and I were captured and taken to a camp. Fragile, weak and miserable, I died soon after in a gas oven.
I started to weep, repeating over and over, “I found you, I found you, I found you.” I could see through the walls of our California ranch house, see him painting in the garage and feel a wave of love and comprehension connecting us. There was no question of recognition: the boy in the vision and the man in the garage were one and the same. The pain of that life was distant and only the incredibly sweet pain of reunion remained. I cried, “I found you, I found you, I found you,” and I began to understand the mysterious ways in which promises are kept.
* * *
We were together long enough to experience the wonder of the fulfillment of the promise and then we let each other go. Many years later, when I dreamed about writing a short story about a character named Anna, a girl impatient for life to begin yet unable to see a future, I recognized her as the same girl who had embraced the boy that hurried night in the woods. I recognized her. The question mark that had clouded her days finally cleared, and I stood in awe of the purposefulness of the broad simple strokes that painted her story.
Reba Linker is a coach and author specializing in inspirational books for women. Her book, Follow the Yarn, encourages others to ‘follow their own yarn,’ tell their stories, and discover their true voice. Download your free excerpt by signing up for the newsletter in the upper right hand corner of the website.