A Matter of Time
That evening, filled with energy and vigor, Jamie literally ran to the school library, dodging speeding cars as he sprinted across the dreaded Alameda, and checked out every available book on reincarnation. Then, arms laden with the stack of books, he ran back across campus and up all ten flights of stairs to his room. He wasn’t even winded. He scattered the myriad papers from his desk and plopped down the books. Dropping into his chair, he proceeded to scour them one by one for any clue to his dilemma. He was thus engaged when Dan sauntered into the room and dropped his book-filled backpack onto his bed.
“Hey, there, roomie,” Dan announced, “how you feelin’?” “Great!” Jamie exclaimed, his voice strong and vibrant, his eyes remained fixed to the book he was skimming.
“Really?” Dan asked, suddenly curious as he sat on his bed to remove his Reeboks.
“Yeah, but it’s night,” Jamie offered by way of explanation, still not deterred from his skimming.
Dan squinted at him. “What does that mean on my side of the room?
Jamie sighed and finally turned to face Dan. He related his experience at the hospital and his revelation about his condition changing from day to night. Dan nodded and stood to look over Jamie’s shoulder at his reading material. He picked one up, snorted with disgust at the title, You and Your Past Life, and threw it back. “Where’d you get all this junk?”
“All that past life crap is crap,” Dan spat, shaking his head. “You’re so poetic,” Jamie shot back with a sarcasm that made him
sound a lot like Jay.
“I’m serious,” Dan went on, still standing over him. “Besides, you’re Catholic and we don’t believe in reincarnation.”
Jamie eyed Dan carefully. His roommate was serious, more than usual. He knew Dan came from a strong Irish Catholic family and was well versed in the doctrine. But then, Jamie’s background was not so different.
“Look,” he began, attempting to articulate his theory since considering the whole reincarnation angle, “you know how the Catholic Church talks about purgatory, right, that place where some souls go until God is ready to accept them into heaven?”
“Yeah, so?” Dan’s eyes squinted with skepticism.
This was the first time Jamie would voice his idea to anyone, and his blood pulsed with excitement. “Nobody knows what exactly purgatory might be, what form it takes,” he went on, eyes aflame with passion, “since Jesus makes no mention of it in Scripture. What if the souls of certain individuals are warehoused in other people’s bodies, right here on earth, on and on through time until God is ready to take them? What if we are purgatory? We have our own distinct soul, unique to us, but we also store someone else’s, someone on God’s waiting list?”
Dan snorted indignantly. “I am not a bus stop, thank you very much!”
“I didn’t mean it like that, but it might be possible,” Jamie concluded, searching Dan’s face for any signs of possible agreement.
Dan merely grunted and moved to the sink. Jamie sighed. He knew that reaction. It meant Dan was considering his explanation a real possibility. The wheels were in motion. Jamie returned to his reading as Dan broke out his shaving gear and plastered his face with cream. As he ran the blade over his soft skin, Dan considered Jamie’s words carefully. He’d always been taught about purgatory and just took it for granted. He’d never given the notion much thought. What if Jamie was on to something? What if he really did have someone inside him as he kept saying?
“Ouch!”he exclaimed, glancing into the mirror to see blood oozing from a nick and dribbling down his neck.
Jamie whipped his head around at Dan’s “ouch” and his eyes fixated on the thin trail of blood dropping into the sink.
Dan reached for some tissue and happened to glance into the mirror. Jamie’s hungry eyes glared up at him. Something about that look, those eyes . . . a chill rippled through Dan like an ice cube down his spine, and he quickly staunched the blood flow with the tissue. He turned uncertainly to Jamie, still staring at him hungrily.
“You okay, roomie?”
Jamie heard Dan through the fire in his blood, through the ravenous hunger engulfing him. He forced that hunger back, beat it down with all his will, and forcibly yanked his eyes from his bleeding roommate. “Uh, yeah, I’m fine.” He pushed his eyes back to the book, but he could feel Dan watching him.
The moment Jamie glanced away, the chill Dan had felt dissipated, and that momentary, overpowering sense of dread vanished. But it had been there, and Dan didn’t like it. Not one bit.