by David LaBounty

A man is reborn upon waking.

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Innocent sunlight interrupts his sleep, the rays pouring through a thinly curtained and hazy second-story window.

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 seen—a 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 seen.

But he knows who she is.

"Morning, baby," the woman who is his wife says in flat Midwestern English punctuated with a yawn.

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 way.

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 Gods.

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 today?"

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 the sun.

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 searchlight.

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, baby."

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…"






Copyright © 2007 David LaBounty

A B O U T   T H E   A U T H O R:

David LaBounty, poet and novelist, lives in Royal Oak, Michigan with his wife and two sons. His poetry has appeared in numerous journals. His debut novel, The Perfect Revolution (written as Oscar Deadwood), was released by Silverthought Press in 2006. His second novel, The Trinity, was published by Offense Mechanisms in 2007.

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