“I’m thinking of raising my agent fees.” His voice sounded the way the movies portrayed God’s voice; calm yet strong, steady but with a hint of mystery. Luckily Alfred was not God or I’d—
“A five percent raise sound good to you?”
Tilting my head towards his voice I opened my eyes and found him sitting in a chair beside me with his feet were kicked up onto the small space of the bed, and as he finished peeling his tangerine he stuck a piece between his lips. He wasn’t watching me but the television across from the hospital bed.
“How much do you currently make?”
He paused and looked to me. Annoyed he shook his head and asked, “What do you do with the contracts I give you?”
“Sign the last page and give them back to you.”
He sucked his teeth, he frowned. “Why do I even bother?” He muttered and continued eating.
“Guilt.” I reminded him. Alfred Noëlle, great director, and the man who carried the death of my mother on his shoulders, had devoted more than twenty years of his life to watching over the son that had been left behind.
“Guilt.” He repeated as he nodded to himself. Rising from his chair he gathered his stuff and walked to the door.
“How long was I out this time?”
“Not bad.” I hadn’t meant for him to hear but he did and being the man he was… he had to comment.
“Do you even remember what happened?” he asked me, and in all honesty I’d been so used to coming to the hospital that I hadn’t thought about…
Shit. “The accident.”
“Yes.” He pointed to the screen and I focused on it for the first time ever, watching myself as I pulled the woman from the car, and reading my name on the banner under the video: Malachi Lord: Hero.
“Shit!” I sat up quickly, apparently too quickly and my shoulder ached in protest. “Alfred, tell them to take it down—”
“Do I look like the Wizard of Oz? How? You chose the slowest news day in America’s history to publicly expose yourself. Your days of hiding are over, Malachi.”
“No…No!” I hollered, panic setting in as I watched myself on screen. The more I watched the more pain I was in until I found myself hunched over and slamming my palm over my right eye. Grinding my teeth, I tore off all the wires attached to my body before it brought in the white coats.
“Malachi!” He reached over to me but I smacked his hands away.
“I need to go home!” I snapped at him.
“Malachi you need the doctor—”
“THEY CAN’T HELP ME!”
“You can’t leave like this, you need to calm down.”
I didn’t say anything as I rolled onto my side and focused on the chair he’d been sitting in. And slowly, far too slowly, like the calm waters after a tsunami, the pain retreated…leaving that familiar feeling of Novocaine in my mouth. As I lay there like the pitiful waste of flesh I was, I wondered for maybe the billionth time, what I had done to be cursed like this?
“She’s going to find me, Alfred,” I whispered despairingly. I’d made a mistake. “Twenty-nine…thirty years next weekend, that’s how long I’d been able to avoid her, and now with my face plastered everywhere… and all because I’d saved the old woman who for some absurd reason I’d felt bad for.”
“At least the pain will end, Malachi.”
“No.” I blinked slowly still staring at the chair. “That’s when the real pain starts.”
“Maybe…maybe she’ll run from you too.”
“She won’t be able to.” It didn’t work that way. I remembered the moment I got the scar over my eye time and time again. For her it was different. She couldn’t remember anything. She’d experience a series of déjà-vus and small coincidences that she’ll will lead her right to me. Once that happens…we’d die and do it all again.
“I’ll get you discharged.” Listening to his voice I really wished he was God, maybe then I could demand we settle this once and for all…
Smirking at the idea I closed my eyes and whispered, “Make it ten percent, Alfred.”
I didn’t hear what he said in return. I waited for a few seconds before I pushed myself up from the bed and stretched out my neck. Hanging on the back of the bathroom door was a suit bag courtesy of Alfred.
“I have to ask you.” No one was in the room, but I spoke anyway knowing that the same God that could keep returning the memories of my past lives had to be watching, or at the very least listening. “Why bother letting me die?”
Ignoring the physical pain, I reached for the bag and entered the bathroom. “I mean, if I’m going to remember anyway, why not just make me immortal?”
Turning on the faucet I splashed water onto my face and took a deep breath before glancing up into the mirror. Seeing those blue eyes stare back at me, my eyes, yet they didn’t feel like it… The white skin, the black hair…none of it felt like me with the expectation of the scar; the faint line which ran from my cheekbone through my eyelid and stopped right above my eyebrow…not just this face but every face. My face didn’t feel like my face because when I looked in the mirror it sometimes changed to reflect my past lives and it was as if they were all standing right beside me and I could see them clearly, one by one.
There was the shoulder-length brown hair, green eyes, light brown skin, a turban wrapped around my head. Beside that face was my porcelain white skin, brown eyes, my black hair pulled into a topknot with a Sangtugwan to hold it in place. Beside that face, there was me with dark brown skin, brown eyes, my head shaved, and war beads around my neck. Followed by the version of me that had white skin, a thick beard, and blonde hair that was braided at the top of my head and shaved at the sides and stained with the tribal ink. The longer I stared, the more faces I saw—my faces. In different eras, it was never-ending.
Raising my fist—
I froze, my fist hovering in front of the glass. Dropping it I stripped down and changed into the jeans and the black long-sleeve shirt he’d gotten me.
“I need to go for a ride to clear my head,” I said as I opened the bathroom. There were two doctors dressed in their white coats who were standing beside him.
“They wanted to check on you before you get discharged,” Alfred said as he tossed the keys to my motorcycle at me. “And before you ask no else rode it, I had it delivered here on the backs of angels.”
“Perfect and I’m fine,” I said catching the keys before I bent down to put on my boots which were by the door.
“Mr. Lord, when you came in we ran an MRI scan on you—”
“Do I have a tumor?” I asked as I tied my laces.
“Was my brain bleeding?”
Rising I stood looking at the two men who stood in front of me. “So why am I not being discharged?”
“Mr. Lord, if you’d let us explain—”
“My brain lights up like a Christmas tree.”
They looked back at each other than at me. “You know this?” The older of the two of them asked.
“Doctor, I’m sure Mr. Noëlle has given you my full medical history and in so doing you’ll note that I was in and out of hospitals quite frequently as a child. Nothing is wrong with me.” Nothing medicine could help anyway.
“Have you ever thought about trying to figure out why this happens?”
“Nope. And I prefer to not be a lab rat while you and every other doctor try to figure it out,” I replied and nodded at Alfred as I moved to the door.
I needed to get back home. The longer I stayed out like this the greater the chance of running into her became. She could have been anyone. A patient, a doctor…anyone. I’d gone to the grocery store because I wanted steak. Of course it was the primal need for food which had put me in this situation.
“Just because you’ve lived a thousand lives does not mean you get to be rude,” Alfred muttered.
“Allow me to be rude, if not this curse comes with no perks whatsoever,” I replied as I followed him towards the reception desk. I kept my distance and head down trying to be as invisible as I could be.
“Oh my gosh! Mr. Lord!”
I jumped at the feeling of a small hand on my arm and I instinctively backed away from the woman while doing my best not to look her in the eye. Instead I stared at the duck covered scrubs she wore and focused on the pattern.
“My sisters and I love your books! Will you sign mine?” she asked as she stuck a white covered book out at me.
“No,” I replied stepping away from her and moving toward the exit.
“Mr. Lord is not feeling well at the moment. He was just in a car accident as you may well know so please understand.” I heard Alfred kindly try to cover up for me. But I didn’t care if people called me a horrible person, or if I was being rude, or an asshole. What if I signed her or anyone else’s book and by some twist of fate it managed to be her? Their opinion of me meant little when pit against my life…her life.
Just as I’d made it to the front door and I thought I was free I found a worn out copy of Sophocles’ Antigone at my feet. I stared at the cover and without thinking I bent down to pick it up. The moment my hand touched it so did hers. My heart stuttered and the scar burned so badly that my eyes hurt.
“Malachi Lord?” She gasped.
I could hear my heartbeat echoing. Releasing the book I tried to escape but she blocked my path.
“Wait! Sorry, I know you must have had people in your face all day but I just wanted to say—”
Turning at the sound of his voice, I watched as he stood beside me and spoke to…her.
“Mr. Noëlle. Good morning. I’m sorry I forgot you came here too!” she said. “Mr. Lord I just wanted to thank you. You saved my mother today.”
I shouldn’t have but I looked at her in shock. Really looked at her—her blonde hair was pulled into a bun and her brown eyes were filled with tears. It was her? Her mother?
“Your mother?” Alfred asked because I could no longer find the words to speak.
“The woman in the BMW, yeah. I just…thank you. Really. Thank you.” She sniffled quickly and I tried to walk around her but she stepped into my path again. “Have we met before? I swear it’s like a feeling of déjà vu.”
It was her.
The moment I thought it, the pain came back.
Biting back the pain I glared at her. “No, we have not.”
Taking the key out of my pocket I moved around her and towards the dark red motorcycle that sat in the parking lot. I was trying to figure out how to run. How to undo this before it started again? Before Li-Mei realized she hadn’t just met me in this life but in almost a thousand previous lives.
“I refuse to do this again.”
I’d had enough pain. Enough.
See you all tomorrow for chapter 3!
Please Remember “Malachi and I” is an original story of J.J. McAvoy, shared on this blog by J.J. McAvoy. Copying, duplicating, printing, publishing in any form of media including web, manipulating, transmitting or reproducing without the prior written permission of J.J.McAvoy is strictly forbidden and would constitute a breach of copyright.