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Twenty-one feels too young to contemplate fate, big goals, or even a grand purpose in life. Since meeting Griffin and his family, I’ve found the place I want to be. I’ll take a small house, a couple of kids, maybe a dog, and our vacations will be wherever we can go with four wheels and a rooftop cargo carrier. We can pack a loaf of bread, peanut butter and jelly, and a bag of chips to eat at roadside picnic stops. It won’t be a four-star hotel, but when Griffin and I sit beneath a tree, hold hands, and watch our kids chase butterflies while the wind carries their laughter, we’ll feel certain no one has it better than we do.

I want the Calloway life, where everything is measured in love, and time together is the ultimate gift.

This is the confusing part for me. If that’s my life, then why am I here snooping around another man’s bedroom? If fate exists, then I know that’s the reason I forgot my wallet the day I met Griffin. Yet, none of that explains how I ended up here in Nate’s house, watching his daughter and reminiscing about a past that happened before I took my first breath.

I walk around his bedroom, but I don’t touch anything. What am I looking for?

A sign?

An explanation?

A missing puzzle piece?

The other end of this wormhole?

There are two sinks in the en suite bathroom. An electric toothbrush, a bottle of foam soap, a beard trimmer, and several bottles of cologne surround one of the sinks. The other sink is naked.

One hand towel.

A single bottle of shampoo and a bar of soap in the shower.

The toilet seat is up.

Several dozen empty hangers occupy one side of the closet.

Not one pair of high-heel shoes.

Half of this room is a ghost. It’s lonely. It’s heartbreaking.

I berate my mom for clinging to the past, but maybe it’s something. Something feels less empty than nothing. If Griffin died, would I be able to purge my life of every reminder of him? How did Nate do it? Less than three months after losing Jenna, he let her go with the exception of a few photos.

Sitting on the edge of the bed, I stare at the digital alarm clock next to a coaster holding a partially-filled glass of water. After a few moments of drumming my fingers on my legs, I make my boldest move yet and slide open the drawer to his nightstand.

There are two books.

“Reincarnation. Really, Nate?” I chuckle as I take the top book out and open it. At least a half dozen sticky notes mark different sections of the book. He’s written on the sticky notes.

Calls Morgan “Daisy”

Birthmark

Snoopy and Charlie Brown

Spanish test

Hockey camp

The time period

“What are you doing?” I whisper. He what? Thinks I’ve been reincarnated? That’s crazy. Reading minds falls under crazy as well, but reincarnated people remember their past life, not other people’s past lives.

“Wow.” I shake my head. “What am I thinking?” Without a second of hesitation, my mind jumps to my own imaginary rules of reincarnation, an unconscious acknowledgment that it exists. I’ve never given it much thought, but Nate certainly has given it a lot of thought and research.

“Jesus …” He has half the book highlighted. I flip to the end, a photo falls out of the back of the book onto the floor. I bend down to pick it up. A grin tugs at my mouth. It’s the Nate I remember. He’s rolling his eyes at the blond girl standing next to him on a dock. She’s sticking her tongue out at him.

“Morgan Daisy?” I grin even more. I have a true face to put with the name. She’s so close to how I pictured her in Nate’s stories. I shiver, holding out my arm to see the goose bumps pebbled along my skin. I’m not sure I’ve ever listened to Nate talk about his memories of Daisy without it giving me goose bumps.

With my back to the spy cam, I slip my phone out of my pocket and take a picture of the photo. I can’t stop staring at it. I can’t imagine finding love at such a young age. And I definitely can’t imagine losing a first love—a best friend.

The more I think about it, I agree with Daisy’s parents. What kind of God takes away such beautiful innocence? They lost two children. If there is a God, he can’t blame them for losing faith. It’s easy to give thanks and praise for blessings. It’s easy to feel loved when life bestows happiness upon us. But blind faith in the face of such tragedy is a jagged pill that not everyone can swallow.

Making sure all the sticky notes and the photo are in their original spots, I close the book.

Threads of the Soul – A Case for Reincarnation by Dr. Hazel Albright

“I’m not Daisy,” I whisper, running my hand over the glossy-finished cover. Sometimes I wish I were her. She’d know all the right things to say to Nate, where I fumble words and do stupid stuff like sending him inappropriate texts and untying his ties.

I laugh, putting the book back in the drawer. Professor Hunt can’t tie a tie.

CHAPTER NINETEEN

“Come in. Oh my, you look handsome, Nathaniel. I love that tie.” Professor Albright winks over her shoulder, reaching for a book on the top shelf behind her desk.

“This one?” I point to the faded leather-bound book.

“Please.”

I hand it to her.

“I’ve been waiting for you.” Her grin shines with mischief.

“I had a feeling you needed help getting a book down. That’s all. Have a good day.” I walk toward her door.

“Shut the door and sit down.”

I grin. Her curiosity amuses me. It’s the reason I’m here.

“I’m not going to be around forever. You need to tell me about the girl. I won’t sleep well in the afterlife with that unknown weighing heavily on my mind.”

“I thought this is the afterlife.” I shut her door and turn.

“Aw …” She points a finger at me as we both take a seat. “You’ve gone beyond reading my books; you’ve studied them.”

“I have. But I still don’t have a clear understanding of everything.”

“No one does. My words are nothing more than my own studies, observations, and theories. That’s the best explanation anyone has for the future or what happens when we die. Can you prove a Heaven or Hell? Or the existence of a higher power? No. Of course not. No one can.”

“Then what do I believe?”

Dr. Albright laughs. It’s warm and comforting. She’s never condescending. That’s what I remember loving most about her class. She acts like a student with her students. Her style of teaching embraced how to think, not what to think. While my classes are more fact-based than hers, I’ve always tried to maintain that same group-learning mentality versus teaching to the masses.

The mind functions with memory, but flourishes from discovery.

“I’m sure you’ve heard it many times, but you have to discover your own truth.”

“And those books are your truth?”

“Yes.”

“You remember other lives?”

She nods. “I do. But I had help.”

“That’s why I’m here. Your books don’t go into that much detail, but you mention hypnosis.”

“My mentor helped me find the details buried in my unconscious mind by using hypnosis. Your heart is, and always has been, a part of your body. Sometimes you can feel or hear it, but how many people get to see their hearts? Well, some patients who have had open-heart surgery or transplants have been shown pictures or even video of their hearts. It’s incredible, like the first time you see an x-ray of part of your body.”

“Deeper meaning.”

She smiles. “Yes. Involving more senses during the discovery process makes our understanding of something more vivid.”

“Your mentor. Can I meet him?”

“Maybe in another life.” She smiles.

“He died?”

“Three years ago.”

“Can you do hypnosis?”

“What’s this about, Nathaniel?” She leans forward, resting her arms on the desk. “Does your nanny want to be hypnotized?”

“I don’t know.”

“Ah, you’re stuck. She’s told you all she can and you want more.”

“I want her to recognize who she was over twenty years ago, not just who I was at the time. I have questions for her.”

“And by her you’re referring to your friend?”

“Yes. Her death left me with a lot of unanswered questions.”

“Do you not know how she died?”

“She drowned.”

“So what are your questions?”

“I want to know why she was at the lake by herself.”

“You want to bring forth her memory of how she died? Sounds cruel to me.”

I didn’t think of it like that. “She would relive her death?”

“It’s possible. I remembered dying in two other lifetimes. One was quick. The only thing I have from it are a few brief flashes. The other time was a slow death, and I suffered a lot.”

“Do you have nightmares about it?”

“Not anymore. It haunted me for months. So we used hypnosis to suppress those memories. Now I only know what I’ve told you. No details. No pictures in my mind. No feelings.”

My gaze shifts to the humming bird feeder outside of her window. This isn’t what I wanted to hear.

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