The Immortal’s Monologue

It ought to be obvious from the way the symbol is drawn that infinity is cyclical.

The slight resemblance to an hourglass tipped is an illusion. There would be a small amount of sand trapped at the juncture between Then and Later, wouldn’t there, providing shelter for a perpetual Now?

It isn’t like that at all. The path is double-looped and in three dimensions, or four, for that matter; there is no intersection.

I know it because I live it.

My life seems to start at age six, and I am adopted out of an orphanage—or not—and receive an education that I already have: the understanding of what I know only comes when I am old enough to comprehend the memories. This returning comprehension is a haze of déjà vu, layers and layers of it. I’m accused often of daydreaming when I am only lost in epoch and millennia.

Who can I tell? Recently, a drug called Ritalin almost unmade me.

Adulthood is where I savor the variations. I have been a connoisseur of lifetimes, and I delight in the minutiae: Look, I’m a banker again, but they do things so differently now. What will have changed when I become a doctor again? What else is there? Even in school, I’ll wake from the dream to learn something new.

But I am exhausted with humanity, one vast echo of its own nature. I used to contrive sometimes to forget to remember, and I let myself love, but not anymore. Even if the happiness abides, I know that it will ultimately falter, through death on the beloved’s part if not from ennui or malice or any of a score of other bitternesses.

I taste the ephemeral, and I know that it’s nothing I can keep.

My life ends at age 76. It ought to. It doesn’t. It sloughs away like snake skin, rapidly, taking a day or so.

I make arrangements to be near the next orphanage, in another city, another state. The old man is missing and presumed dead.

I leave a simply written note for myself and for my temporary caretakers.

I wait and then I resolve into a child, losing the age if not the time.

A social worker kneels in front of me this time, says, “You have such old eyes.” I’ve heard this as a child before, from others.

No wonder.


Karen J.H. Thistle lives and works in Southwestern Virginia. Her fiction has appeared in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine and 3SF. Her non-fiction has appeared in the Internet Review of Science Fiction.