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We Meet Again

Part 1 of 5: You! *mild language warning*

By J. L. GreenPublished about a month ago 9 min read
We Meet Again
Photo by Hassan Pasha on Unsplash

Mother had said that having a soulmate was a gift; for two hearts to love one and other so deeply that not even death could keep them apart is a rare and beautiful thing.

That was the understanding back then at least.

What no one realized was this gift wasn't forged exclusively from love. Any devastatingly strong emotion could turn a pair into soulmates. And nothing on Earth could break that bond. No matter how hard you try.

~~~~

The office is unusually quiet for a Monday morning. Half the people in their cluster of cubicles stare dead-eyed at their screens, the younger folks appearing green at the gills from the recent office party, but the overall vibe is tired and bored.

I'm housed in a matching cubicle with walls tall enough for some privacy but not so much that I can't see my neighbors, and I busy myself with running the uncapped end of a pen along the spreadsheet.

It's tedious work, checking the numbers, but I'm okay with that. Prefer it, even. The mind numbing-ness of it is a nice break from the chaos and change of the real world.

At the end of the line, I'm pleased with the results and tap my pen thrice; there are the tiniest ink blots left behind that subtly mark where I was, just in case I get distracted.

Speaking of distracted.

Natalie, my neighbor directly across from me and one of the closest things to a friend I have in the office, catches my eye as she stands up and stops at my side.

"Hey Ev, Jerry's down at the café. Want to go get a snack?" she asks.

That's one of the perks of working where I do; there is a nice little corner spot on the first-floor where they serve coffee and quick snacks. I'd had a light breakfast so a small treat would be nice.

"Don't mind if I do," I say, pausing for a languid stretch over the back of the cheap rolling chair. I flip my papers face down before standing up.

We work our way around the room toward the exit, taking in the robotic movements of our coworkers. Drones, the lot of 'em (me included).

It's Natalie who notices the office come to life first, as slow as the snow melting in Spring, and she nudges my side.

"Boss incoming."

We went to stand out of the way by the wall to give everyone a clear view as Cheryl, the firm manager, enters the room. Cheryl's fairly well regarded and is met with smiles as she comes in with a new face in tow.

"Excuse me everyone, I'd like your attention," she announces. Those who haven't already, poke their heads up from their cubbies like a flower to sprout. "I'd like to introduce Derek, your new branch manager."

Tall, tan, and a head full of well-kept sunny blonde hair. Oh yeah, Derek is handsome. I take a few seconds to appreciate his figure; the toned arms under long sleeves, a slim waist, sharply dressed. Eye-candy in its purest form. Speaking of, I meet his eyes and jolt at the sight; they are the most mesmerizing icy blue.

It hits me then, like a flash bang in a closet; a hurricane of memories from the last seven-hundred years. All of my past lives. My head pounds and squeezes as if my brain is expanding in the effort of taking them all in.

Despite the haze of it all, one thing is clear in every single memory. I know Derek. We've always found each other at some point, as if destiny won't allow something trivial like time or death to keep us apart.

I'm now quite grateful for the small breakfast as nausea rolls through. It wouldn't do to vomit on the paper-thin carpets.

When my vision stops spinning and the vicious mallet stops hammering my skull, I notice a hand on my back. (Was I gagging? It feels like I'd been gagging.) Natalie's dark eyes are wide in concern. A few others are standing, half staring at her, half to the front of the room.

I shake my head, forcing myself to focus enough to see Cheryl with her hand on Derek's shoulder, a matching sense of worry in her expression. Derek is hunched over, his back heaving with every breath. (Equally overwhelmed by the influx of memories.)

"Are you okay?" Cheryl asks.

"I'm fine," he says, straightening up in a slow jerky motion and looks directly at me with a small grin on his face. "Just fine."

One clear thought pops into my head as we stare at each other; a first for this life, but one I've had over and over again.

'This motherfucker.'

~~~~

One week Derek has worked at my branch of White Hills Inc. One week of Hell.

"Just one lifetime," I pray from my desk. "That's all I want. One single lifetime where his stupid face doesn't pop up."

I can't escape him.

And of-fucking-course he's as charming as ever. He's friendly with the staff, easy for people to joke with. Competent. Plus he hit the physical jackpot this time around; half the women in the office swoon when he walks passed their desks (not literally of course, but I can see the desire in their eyes and how they hold themselves. Seven-hundred years is a long time to learn the unspoken signs of lust).

My one saving grace is that he's mostly left me alone outside of a quick introduction after we nearly passed out.

(Cheryl had privately asked if everything was okay or if there was a history she should be aware of. I denied it, citing a terrible cramp for my episode. The truth is far more complicated; how on Earth can I explain the soulmate bond? It's incredibly rare to have one to begin with, let alone explaining it in this day and age.)

That said, I don't flock to the water cooler when he does. I step outside for a break when he lingers too long outside of his office. He does catch my eye and gives a faux-smile that makes my teeth grind, but otherwise it's tolerable. I hate it (I hate it) but I can make it. I like this job too much to let it go.

It's the first job in a series of part-time disasters in this life that has felt right.

(My first lifetime having a job at all. I've spent too many years as a childless spinster or a house-wife since it 'wasn't a woman's place to be working. A woman's place is to have children.' Which also never happened. I consider that the secret blessing of this whole bond tragedy.)

So even if I feel like I can't handle it, I'm going to have to try to make it work.

One week in and my thirst is what betrays me.

The day is particularly parching, as the AC took its last breath overnight. The maintenance men are here working noisily, several desk fans are buzzing, and I can't focus when I'm so thirsty and annoyed.

Derek has stepped outside the main office (I've become hyper-aware of him and it makes me despise him all the more for putting me on edge when I used to feel so at home). There's no better opportunity for a water break.

The AC may have gone to sleep on the job, but the water cooler hasn't. The first sip is refreshing to say the least and I finish the cup in 0.5 seconds. I wanted to fill my cup one more time before going back to the sanctity of my desk, in case I don't get this chance again.

"Hello." He snuck up on me and I startle, almost spilling my water.

"Son of a-" I mutter, just catching myself before letting the curse slip.

He continues as if he hasn't given me a minor ulcer. "Is it Everly you're going by now?"

I turn to face him with a blank face; I need to coax out a neutral expression or I'd risk scowling.

"What do you want?" I ask evenly.

He smirks. The same smirk in every body, like it's an imprint from his soul. My blood boils every time I see it, and I know he's aware of that.

"I'm just checking on you. After all, you nearly fainted a few days ago."

Bullshit.

"You know perfectly well that I'm fine." I finish filling my cup and say, "Now if you could please keep our conversations strictly work-related, I think that would be best."

I give him my back, a clear sign that I'm done with the conversation. He side-steps around me, looking absolutely tickled as he subtly blocks the way, and holds up his hands.

"Okay, okay. Stand down. I'll leave you be. I was hired because I am indeed a professional." He turns on a heel but pauses. His eyes catch mine and I can see the twinkle of mischief in them as he casually says, "If I can say one thing not work related? I think the red hair looks nice. I don't think I've ever seen you with red hair before."

Bullshit.

I narrow my eyes at him. I know I shouldn't buy into it, but a piece of me can't help it; it's the same piece that hopes things will be different in this life. That perhaps our bond can shift from hatred to neutral.

So I try (and barely succeed) at keeping my tone even and say, "No, you have."

"When was that?" he asks, his hand coming up to caress the short beard adorning his face. That move. Typical. He's definitely trying to bait me, but the jokes on him because I'm not going to let it upset me.

I am calm. "The sixteen-hundreds."

He feigns thought then snaps his fingers. "Ah yes! When you were burned at the stake."

"Because you accused me of being a witch!"

Hook. Line. And sinker.

I'm seething through clenched teeth as I whirl around on him, puffing myself up until we're mere inches apart. To the rest of the office this probably looks intimate. I nearly choke on the thought.

He has that annoying smirk on his face and the gall to say, "It was a misunderstanding."

"How can you-!" I force out a deep, calm-ish breath and lower off my haunches. "Look, Derek is it?" (Pretending that I don't know his name when that's all the office can talk about irks him and I won't deny myself such small pleasures.) "I don't want to get into it. I just want to come here, do my job, and leave. So can you please find some restraint this time and let me live in peace?"

He smiles. Had this been my first life, I would have considered it a kind smile. But the corners of his lips twist up in such a way that I can see only malice.

"Not a chance."

~~~~

At night my sleep is plagued by a horrendous mixture of memories and nightmares.

When I was reborn as a Princess, he was a vicious warlord, and it ended with my beheading to an uproar of applause. I, a puritan woman, he a goodly man, and I get burned alive for "practicing witchcraft". I come back as nun, he a priest, and I get exiled to a certain death for being "an unGodly harlot".

Never a situation where I hold the high ground; in every single life, I have always been a woman, and he has always been a man. That's a problem when men rule the world, even up until my last life ended in 1945.

(I'd met Derek, Dr. Johnson back then, at a tuberculosis ward as his patient. I'm sure he was a good doctor, because that's just how fate goes, but I never saw that side of him. Now I can't say for certain whether he was poisoning me or not, because he seemed quite happy watching me waste away while choking on blood, but it seemed like something he'd do.)

I jolt awake, the coppery tinge of blood still coating my mouth and orange flames melting my skin, burning behind my eyes. Or is that tears making them sting?

"I can't do this again," I weep, my hand coming up to cover my mouth and stifle my cries. "Please, just make this stop."

Series

About the Creator

J. L. Green

I've been writing for fun since I was a preteen and haven’t stopped since. I tend to favor the darker/angsty/thriller type of themes. Here’s to hoping readers enjoy my work, and those that don't find something they do.

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Comments (1)

  • Esala Gunathilakeabout a month ago

    Well done on your story.

J. L. GreenWritten by J. L. Green

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