‘Good morning, Miss Mira! Please come in. How are you doing today?’
‘I’m ok, doctor.’ Mira tugged at the sleeves of her hoodie, her long hair covering half of her face. She looked around, expecting to see her usual therapist, yet all she saw was a lithe young woman, who sat conceitedly at the desk that was in the room. Her blonde hair was pulled tightly into a ponytail, a pair of glasses sitting on her nose.
‘Um Miss? Who are you? I’m here to meet Dr Robert. He’s my usual therapist.’
‘Oh, you didn’t hear? I’m sorry Mira, but Dr Robert passed away two weeks ago.’
Mira’s eyes filled with grief, but to the other woman’s puzzlement, there were no tears.
‘So, you’re my new doctor?’
‘Don’t call me a doctor; just call me Sara. This is a place for therapy, not an institution.’ Despite her glasses, Sara gave Mira a warm glance as she stared at her. ‘So why are you here right now?’
Mira cast a weary glance Sara’s way, her eyes glistening with too many memories for one person to bear.
‘I have been alive for over a thousand years, and I don’t want to live anymore.’
Sara looked up, startled by Mira’s statement, before grabbing the file again. Under Mira’s name, where her age would be, were only two words:
Sara’s alarm turned to curiosity.
‘You’re one of the Immortals? I thought they had died out years ago.’
Mira spat out a humourless laugh, a sound that Sara found both shocking and saddening.
‘Imagine that, an Immortal dying. Well, I’ll give you some credit, Miss Sara. I am an Immortal. I might actually be the last of my kind. You see, most Immortals have the ability to pass on their curse of everlasting life onto other beings; however, once passed on, the curse can never be lifted, no matter how much the being wants it. Thus, the being is condemned to an eternal cycle of life. Witches, sorcerers, holy people… all of them have tried for years to remove my curse. I’ve gone from country to country, kingdom to kingdom, and nothing can rid me of it.’
Sara took off her glasses to look at Mira, slowly taking in the information she was told. Opening Mira’s file again, Sara noticed a note from Dr Robert:
Patient prone to insomnia; refused sleeping pills.
Looking back at Mira, Sara noticed heavy bags under each eye.
‘Mira, have you been sleeping well lately?’
Mira shook her head, causing her hair to fall over her eyes.
‘Sleep is hard for me; I can’t make a routine of when to sleep and when to be awake. So, I don’t sleep. Dr Robert recommended sleeping pills, but I don’t want them.’
‘Why? They could help you sleep.’
Mira gripped her arms, looking anywhere but Sara. ‘I don’t want to sleep and then wake up in a different time again.’
Sara stilled at Mira’s response. ‘That’s happened?’
Mira nodded, a movement that Sara had to squint to see. ‘I understand.’
Writing down a couple notes into the file, Sara looked at Mira again. ‘You’ve been alive for a long time Mira. You must have seen many things and lived thousands of lifetimes, correct? So why decide you don’t want to be here now? You could be a teacher, or a professor. You could tell the world about all of history’s most hidden secrets. You could debunk theories, write books. You could do so many things with the knowledge being an Immortal has given you. Being a living witness to historic events would be like a dream.’
At Sara’s last words, Mira snapped her head. She stalked up to Sara until they were nose to nose. There was an age of agony and fury writhing behind Mira’s eyes, tears framing every memory.
‘I’m only going to say this once: your little dream is a fucking nightmare to me. You have never had to attend the funerals of your whole bloodline. I’ve had to witness the death of my children. I had to witness people dying around me, purely because I can’t die. You know the Black Death? How it killed millions? I was there. I had people, children die in my arms. I walked the streets when they were covered in bodies. You’ve never had the hollow feeling of emptiness in your heart that I feel constantly. I don’t take lovers anymore. I’ll never marry again. I’ll never be able to have a child that I don’t outlive. You can’t understand how many loved ones I’ve had to watch die. So don’t you dare say that immortality is a dream.’
Mira straightened up, ignoring the sputtering apology that Sara tried to spit out, and moved towards the door.
‘Excuse me, Mira! We still have an hour of the session–’
‘No. I refuse to stay in the same room of someone who opens her mouth and doesn’t even consider the pain that I have experienced, let alone be counselled by them.’ Mira pulled the door open, slamming it against the wall as she spat out, ‘I would say go to hell, but only my curse can give that hell, so good for you.’ She stomped out of the building.
When she stepped outdoors, she shrugged off the hood of her jacket before she was met by deafening vehicle horns and glaring streetlights. Wincing at the chaos of city nightlife, Mira inserted her earplugs to try to drown out the noise as she made her way home along the sidewalk. The worst aspect of living in New York was that it truly lived up to its reputation as the city that never sleeps.
Mira walked past various screens playing videos and ads, each one getting brighter than the last. Even though it was quite late, tourists continued to swarm the congested streets, moving like a living ocean, pushing her along. After some gentle shoving, Mira arrived at a worn-down apartment building.
As she stepped inside and into the creaky elevator, she began to scroll through her phone, but there were no new messages and no missed calls. As the ding of the elevator arriving on her floor sounded, her thumb hovered over a contact in her history. She pressed down and held the phone to her ear. A beep sounded and an automated message spoke into Mira’s ear: ‘This number is no longer in use.’
‘It never changes. Everyday, it’s the same.’
Tears started to well up in Mira’s eyes.
Something took a hold of her, and she went through all her contacts, desperately pressing on each contact, only for each one to have the same pre-recorded message. ‘This number is no longer in use.’ The tears started to fall as Mira reached her apartment. As she stepped inside, she dropped her phone on the hallstand before falling to her knees. She began to pull items from the surrounding boxes. A number of handwritten journals poured out from one box, followed by dusty bundles of scrolls, all with broken seals. A tangled-up pile of tarnished necklaces and rings scattered at Mira’s feet.
But she paid no heed to them. Piles upon piles of photos soon littered the floor, all ranging from painted, to black and white, to coloured. Next came stacks of opened letters, each one telling her of another friend or another family member that had passed away. Pages of pressed flowers joined the memorabilia. Posters of wanted criminals and disintegrating leather maps added to the litter. This continued for what seemed like ages, all of Mira’s memories being pulled out and falling to the floor, only to be covered by more. Finally, Mira pulled a tattered teddy bear from the final box, holding it like it would disappear.
As if in a trance, she rose to her feet and walked further into the apartment.
Mira stumbled into her bedroom and flopped on her bed. She then curled up and sobbed into the stuffed toy. She did nothing to contain her wails of grief and loneliness. No longer would she feel the soft fur of her pets rubbing around her legs; no longer would she have the loving embrace of any partners; never again would she hear the laughter of her children. They forever would be lost to time, and she was cursed to remember them.
Author: Rebekah Pouw is a 3rd year creative writing student. She loves writing stories especially in the fantasy genre. She also loves dabbling in mythology writing stories based on them.
Artist: Emma Bruce is a multi-disciplinary visual artist from Yugambeh country working out of Meanjin. Her work discusses the relationship modern society has with the environment through an archival style in hopes to preserve the experience of being in the natural world. Her work hopes to invite her audience to partake in activities that nurture native flora and fauna as well as create a sense of pride to be part of it.
Editors: Brock Scholte and Fernanda Bustos Venegas