As a child, questions like why I existed never arose because I was too busy searching for food, clothing, or something exciting to make life worth living. Never gave a thought to the meaning of life, the future or anything else.
I struggled to stay alive until I grew up and learned how to earn a living. I had children whose lives weren’t as good as they could have been, but they were far better than mine had been as a child. They grew and had kids, and their kids had kids. A great grandfather to four, I struggled to avoid the ravages of time. Growing old, getting sick and suffering before death was the fate I faced. What was coming terrified me. I rebelled, got angry at everything responsible for my being here. Then it dawned on me that experiencing pain was only a gentle reminder that time is short and to make life worthwhile, I tried to finish what I came here to do, but I died before that happened.
My spirit wanted to say goodbye to my kids, but shimmering spirits surrounded me. “It’s not allowed,” they said. “The rules say you have to come with us.”
I saw no reason to obey any stupid rules. My spirit dissolved into a haze and reappeared in the presence my family. I tried and tried to explain to them that there is a place to go after one dies, but my words made no sound. I stood there until the shimmering spirits caught me.
“Why do you care what I do?” I asked.
“It’s our job as soul catchers to round up any wayward souls and put them on the wheel that weighs your soul for good deeds and bad. That will decide where you’ll go.”
The scale showed many more bad than good.
“You’re destined to return as the creature you found most repulsive in your previous life so you’ll know what it’s like to be one of them.”
Horrified that I’d return to the world as the thing I found most repulsive in life. My spirit disintegrated in a flash of light and I was reborn as a female cockroach.
During my life, I had always thanked God I wasn’t born a woman, so God must think this is the perfect punishment for me. Life as a roach wasn’t much different than when in my previous life if I wanted to eat, I had to find garbage or something dead. I adjusted to that, but to be held by a male roach bigger and stronger than me who did whatever he desired made me want to puke all the dead things I had eaten. I thought if I found my daughter from my previous life, I’d be safe.
One bleak and rainy day I found her house and waited on her countertop for her to come home. I feasted on bread and cakes she must have left out for me. It was warm and cozy in her house and for the first time in this roach life, I felt safe. The door opened. When I saw her face, I jumped for joy. She stepped back when she saw me, reached under the sink and pulled out a can of Raid.
“Wait,” I cried in my bug’s voice. “It’s me, your Dad.”
She said, “Die Roach!” and pressed the button. The spray hit me. I went into convulsions and could no longer breathe. She rolled up a newspaper as I shouted, “Don’t you recognize me?” She couldn’t hear me and even if she did, she’d never believe a roach was me. The rolled up paper squashed my back legs. I felt no pain because the spray had numbed me.
I dragged myself under the toaster. She picked the appliance up. “Got you now,” she yelled and slammed the newspaper down on me. My guts squirted onto the counter, but I didn’t give up. I crawled to a crack in the wall and hid.
Satisfied she’d mortally wounded me, she didn’t search for me. Time passed, I got hungry. I wondered if I could eat the guts hanging from my ruptured body. I decided against that and crawled toward the toaster where a feast of crumbs waited for me. That wasn’t all that waited. My daughter jumped out with her rolled up newspaper and said, “Gotcha,” as she smashed me to death.
My spirit rose and the soul catchers were waiting. They put me back in line to return to the wheel. Wonder what I’d be next time around.
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