Innocent sunlight interrupts his sleep,
the rays pouring through a thinly curtained and hazy second-story
It was a dreamless sleep, a sleep like
a stupor, a sleep started in exhaustion as his tired mind could
no longer stand the sounds of planes and bombs and rockets launched
across the Berlin night above his head.
He scratches his head; he scratches his
head and takes in this silent room, this silent room a far cry
from his subterranean lair of stone walls and dim hallways and
the static and electronic voices of generals and sub-generals
who would all soon die in a loud and burning blaze of glory
that would ignite their souls and send them flying to heaven
like a Phoenix ascending.
It's a room he's never seena room
consisting of cherry wood furniture, a large bed and plain white
walls decorated with several paintings and black and white photographs
of faces he suddenly recognizes.
It's a room he's never seen, but it's
a room he knows.
There's a stirring in the bed next to
him and a golden head sleepily rises and shields its eyes from
the bright and warm caress of the sun.
The golden head has the face of a woman,
a beautiful and young woman and it belongs to a woman he's never
But he knows who she is.
"Morning, baby," the woman
who is his wife says in flat Midwestern English punctuated with
English. He doesn't know English. He
didn't know English; he didn't speak or understand English until
this moment, this moment when his soul returned to the world.
"Morning," he says and he can't
help but grin as his body stretches, his young and lanky body
and it feels good, this body, this new body. He can feel so
many muscles flex and unflex as he stretches in the vast and
comfortable and placid bed.
He stands up and is surprised by his
height; he must be over six feet tall and he ambles over to
the mirror atop a chest of drawers. He stares at his naked body
and he now looks so very different but different in a glorious
His short blonde hair is sticking out
in so many directions and the eyes that stare back at him are
an icy and penetrating blue. He is now firm in the jaw and there
is no softness in the middle of his body, no ring of fat around
a waist that just a moment ago was middle-aged.
But it was more than a moment ago; how
long ago, exactly, he isn't sure.
The ancient lips and divine tongues that
caressed his ear as he watched his soul fly away on burning
wings above the bombed Berlin night said it would take sixty
or seventy years. They said his soul would be in limbo for the
span of a generation, his soul would be in transit through a
dark Valhalla and his soul would be augmented and cleansed as
it traveled through and around the hands and the eyes of the
The ancient lips said his soul would
be mightier and fiercer than before as the Gods pounded it into
shape with their hammers of precision and magic.
The divine tongues said his forged soul
would be stronger than before, and it would be invincible when
they cast it back to Earth with a runic toss, it would be holy
and sure as they cast it into the body of another, the body
of one stronger, younger, a body whose former soul was flung
into the icy heavens, flung to make room for him.
And he feels it now; he feels his mighty
soul humming in the cavity of his heart.
"You glad it's Saturday, baby?"
the golden head asks him as she sits up in the bed. He can see
her breasts over his shoulder in the mirror.
"Saturday? Oh yeah, Saturday,"
and he vaguely remembers his current job as his new memories
slowly merge with his old ones. He is now a schoolteacher, a
popular and charismatic teacher and a favorite of students and
faculty alike. His pupils tend to hang on to his every word.
"You wanna go to the fruit market
He shrugs his shoulders and instinctively
rifles through a dresser drawer and pulls out running shorts
and an old t-shirt.
"You wanna go to the fruit market
and buy me some flowers? You know what flowers do to me
He says nothing as he slips the shorts
and t-shirt on. He stands in front of the mirror again and stares
at his new face.
His perfect face, the face that he should
have been born with over a century ago.
The golden head rises completely out
of the bed. The golden head rises and he can see that it's attached
to an alabaster and symmetrically serpentine body.
The golden head stands behind him in
the mirror, pressing her breasts against his back and he can
feel their soft warmth; he can feel the firm nipples prick his
skin. This new life is so different than the old life. No woman,
not even Eva, ever rubbed up against him before, especially
in the morning under the naked and pure and bright light of
He's never felt loved before, not like
this, as love and reverence are so very, very different, and
he knows he loves this woman of tender breasts and delicate
skin and long and flowing hair that lights up a room like a
The golden head rests on his shoulder
and stares at his mirrored face in dreamy admiration. He, too,
stares at his mirrored face in dreamy admiration.
"So come on, you wanna go downtown
to the fruit market? We could have lunch at that German place
you like so much."
"I don't know," he says. "I
have a lot of work to do today."
"Work? You never do shit on Saturday,
He shrugs his shoulders but nods his
head firmly. "I'm thinking its time to do something with
my life. You know, I've always been interested in politics.
I think it's time I run for office or something. I think it's
time I make a difference."
And true enough, he teaches high school
political science and politics and current events have always
been his passion.
"You? Run for office?" and
the golden head laughs, exposing straight and large teeth that
are just barely stained with a decade and a half of coffee.
"But you're nobody, baby. I mean,
you're somebody to me, of course, but outside of this house
and your school, well
no one knows who you are."
He shrugs his shoulders. He's had nothing
before, he's been nothing before. He has starved and shivered
in Vienna and his eyes had been stung by English gas to the
point of blindness in that first bloody and stupid war.
He's not worried about being a nobody.
He has always been a nobody.
But he will be somebody again. This time
he won't fail, and that's for sure.
His wife stares at his face, but not
so dreamily now. Her eyes are tinged with anguish and wonder.
"You gotta shave today, baby. You
got that little shadow beneath your nose, and you know who that
makes you look like