July 03, 2015

The Cyclic

A seed, not a story. A sketch. Forced its way out while I was trying to write something else.



I do not think I am immortal, though I do not remember being born, or dying.

I always grow up as a foundling girl from about the age of four, then become male somewhere between twenty five and thirty five (an unpleasant process that steals at least six months from me). At fifty or sixty, my memories stop.

At the start of each cycle, I am found wandering at the edge of a random village or small town, filthy, naked, bewildered, and crying, unable to remember much of anything. I am usually raised by the person who finds me. I do not know what happens to me between my last memories and when I'm found, though I've confirmed that anywhere between four and eight years pass. I have paid good money to be guarded and recorded in my final days; it seems the equipment always fails or the watchers fall asleep--one died of a heart attack, which is when I stopped trying--and I am gone.

Like the citizens of Diaspar in Clarke's The City and the Stars, I can edit my memories before I regress, choosing which ones I will keep. I start regaining them after becoming sexually active at whatever age that occurs, usually around fifteen, but once, quite pleasantly so, at about seven or eight, by the young widow who had taken me in.

My earliest coherent memories date from growing up in a French nunnery sometime in the 1400s. I have a few scattered glimpses before that, but can't identify my place or time of origin. I suspect that this was the first time I received a real education. I remember writing a good deal, in French, Latin, and a smattering of Hebrew and Greek; this may be when I began to learn to mark the memories I wanted to keep.

The four others I've met like myself count their first educations from about the same time. It must have been going around.

I don't always remember when a particular memory happened, or even which cycles they've shared, but I am certain of the order in which they happened.

I remember places, people, events; sometimes in considerable detail, sometimes by little more than a kind of ideograph and an emotion.

Skills and languages must be learned from scratch.

I am mute when found, though I learn to read while learning to talk, very quickly. I think I've learned to learn some things. Cooking and sewing comes easily and well. Math too; I may not need it, but if I do, I need to start early.

I learn fighting as easily as I learn making love, and I have learned to start learning even as a young girl, and to pick husbands who will teach me, so that it is not so hard to catch up after becoming male.

I always love horses and riding. I love to drive cars and motorcycles. Sailing and flying...I do them well, and they are enjoyable enough, but I have no passion for them.

I do not notice learning how to sing and dance for pleasure, except the formal court dances--fortunately I enjoy the lessons. I would love to learn ballet, but it gets in the way of raising children at an early age. Drawing is always a struggle, but it is too useful to not acquire some of the skill. I cannot play any instrument. My whistling is tuneless and incessant; I've been shot at for it, I hope because it gave my position away.

I very much regret to say, I have never learned to be temperate with drink. It's too damn much fun, no matter the morning's bill.

I have been happy living in the gutter, collecting ox or camel dung and molding it into firecakes for sale. I have known wealth and privilege, and even sat on a minor throne, although not for long. If you have studied European history at all beyond the required textbooks, you would recognize one of my names, although my alleged portrait is of someone else. I have dug shit holes and built skyscrapers. I have sewn tents, sails, my own dresses, and human flesh as a medic. (Thankfully, after administering anaesthetic-I know what it feels like else. Here's a tip, kids: try not to have a bone sawn while conscious.) I was an engineer for the Saturn V. I have ridden donkeys, camels, and horses. I have driven wagons, carriages, planes, trains, automobiles, and motorcycles, (the later two often at dangerously excessive speeds on bad roads, shrieking with laughter and fear).

I have known the joy of battle many times; when I am male, I always spend some time as a warrior, and I never wait to be conscripted. More than once, though, I have picked my side when my door was kicked in at night. I've fought on a tall ship and in a submarine.

While female, I get pregnant and raise a child with my husband--I have never by choice been a single mother.

I have loved many women, often as a woman myself, and fathered countless children.

I have never by choice had sex with another man.

When I am a man, I always love my women for taking care of home, hearth and children while I did the fun stuff, the exciting and important stuff; and for pleasuring me on my return. When I am a woman, I always love my husbands for taking care of the noisy stuff, the rough stuff, the dangerous stuff, while I did the one thing that absolutely must be done--and oh, how I love them for getting that started! And for telling me their stories in words, and in caresses, embraces, and thrusts; in kisses and in spurts. And yes, I love worshiping, with my mouth, that scepter I look forward to having, and that chalice I so recently had.

I love my powerful male bodies, and my beautiful female ones; I love mirrors both ways. I love to dominate an unruly woman, and to submit to an unruly man. I cannot abide meekness.

I remember bearing children before I learned to remember. I remember even if I want not to remember. (Yeah, I've picked sides because of that, too. You want to make an enemy, beat a woman's baby out of her, then make her watch it die while you rape her.) I have borne at least fifty one of the little varmints (as of last year). My first remembered birth is, however, accompanied by a vague sense of "here we go again", though that could be an artifact introduced during a later life. It may amuse you to know that as far as I recall, I first learned to count, from the nuns, in time for child twenty six. They've come out on forest leaves and on muddy banks, in blazing heat and bone-cracking cold, in tents, in castles, in hovels, in ordinary homes and in hospitals, often with family, sometimes alone, sometimes with midwives, although I avoid doctors, who spoil the fun. My babies have all been strong, noisy, and greedy at the breast, ow. My youngest child is always at least seven when I begin to change; I do not say goodbye.

I have never located any of my children in a later life; nor do I willingly burden them with my male self. As an officer, I had a son assigned to me once, by sheer accident. Eventually I had to order him to advance against withering attack, and watched him fall not thirty fast heartbeats later, taking my counterpart with him. He never knew who the martinet was that he hated so much, but he always obeyed me with élan in his actions, and with honor and glory in his heart, and I will never let his memory die.

Watching Apollo 11 rise from its natal pyre while flat on my back in a very unauthorized location after being bowled over by the shock wave, and knowing thereby that a thing from my hands was working as I intended, stands out as the single peak moment of my existences. I do wish, though, that I remembered what My Thing was; the time will come when all I will remember is fire and power and three men of destiny rising to the Moon, and that part of it was mine.

But again and again and again, I have been at my happiest holding a crying newborn, nursing my children at my breast, watching them take their first steps, and hearing them say their first words. No joy or sorrow has matched it.

Oh Lord, when You are done with me here, let "Mother" be my epitaph. It has always been my calling.

Posted by: 50srefugee at 12:06 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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