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Rated: E · Short Story · Drama · #1611173
A story of reincarnation-based on a true story.
         Elizabeth stood in her kitchen, emptying the dishwasher. The air conditioner had not stopped running for days since the small Austin suburb was in the midst of a heat wave even though it was October. Her son Peter had been cooped up indoors all day due to the heat, and was beginning to drive her nuts. He was only four years old and a live wire, needing room to run. Elizabeth had been feeling a bit overwhelmed lately because her husband Bill had been working long hours and she had given birth to Gabrielle in June. She was amazed every time she looked at her children-Peter being the spitting image of his father with olive skin, dark brown eyes and hair, while little Gabrielle was fair skinned like her mother with deep blue eyes. It was as if they were polar opposites. It was obvious to all who knew Peter that he was a sweet, smart little boy, but what no one knew, not even his parents, was that he had a secret.

         Ever since the child was three years old, Elizabeth had played a game with him she liked to call “Let’s Talk”. The two would sit in the family room and Elizabeth would say “Let’s talk” and proceed to ask Peter questions like what’s your favorite color or what do you want to be when you grow up. It was her way of encouraging her son to be open with her, knowing he could always talk to his mom. But one day the game changed.

         It was a little after noon when Elizabeth laid Gabrielle down for her nap while Peter played quietly in his bedroom. With the house quiet, she settled into a cozy chair with a glass of iced tea and a magazine, stealing some time for herself. She could feel eyes upon her. Glancing at the entryway to the family room, she saw Peter standing quietly, staring at her.

“Hi sweetie. What do you need?”

“Let’s talk,” the precocious child replied.

“Alright. What do you want to talk about,” she asked, smiling.

“I want to talk about when I was your father.” Stunned and confused, the young mother grasped for words.

“Peter, you were never my father. You’re my little boy.”

Adamant, Peter responded, “Yes, I was. And when I died you didn’t cry.”

Shocked, she remembered the day her father died thirteen years ago and how, to be brave for her little brother and sister, she hadn’t shed a single tear but she had never told her young son. She sat and stared at her four year old child, uncertain of what to say.

He looked into his mother’s eyes. “Remember? Your mommy wore a hat to my funeral.”

Again, he was right. Elizabeth’s mother, Emma, never wore hats, she hated them. But for the funeral she had worn a hat and as soon as she got home, she threw it in the garbage. How on earth could he have known these things, she wondered. Just then the baby began to cry, ending the bizarre conversation. Elizabeth went to the nursery to tend to her daughter while Peter returned to his room to play as if nothing unusual had happened.

         She couldn’t stop thinking about what had happened. It concerned her that her son thought he was her father but even more troubling were the things he knew. It consumed her thoughts all day until finally Billy got home from work. Before he could take off his suit coat and put down his briefcase, Elizabeth began to explain what had happened. Just then Peter walked into the room and without hesitation Elizabeth ended their conversation telling him they’d talk later.  While dinner cooked, Elizabeth gave Gabrielle her bottle, burped her and had Bill rock the baby to sleep. With the baby now asleep in her crib, the three sat down and enjoyed their home cooked meal. After dinner, she helped Peter get ready for bed, tucking him with a kiss. When Elizabeth entered the family room Bill asked, “What is this all about? What happened today? You never got around to telling me.”

“I wanted Peter in bed before I told you. I don’t want him to hear. Oh Bill…it’s just so disturbing.  Please promise me you’ll listen with an open mind, alright?”

“Okay, what is it?”

“You know how Peter and I always play “Let’s Talk”? Well, today he came up to me and wanted to play. But the things he told me…Bill, it was just weird.” She relayed the conversation to her husband, explaining how their son was correct every time.

“How can that be? I mean, he must have heard it from someone.”

“No, no way.”

“Well, what about your mom? She could’ve said something. Or your sisters maybe…”

“I’ve thought about this all day. He’s never alone with mother. And my sisters? They barely speak to him. I don’t know how to explain it but it gives me the creeps. I mean, he’s my son but that’s not normal.”

“It’s not but honey, maybe you shouldn’t worry about it. He was probably just teasing you. You know how Peter can get. That kid has one hell of an imagination.”

“I hope you’re right. But he didn’t seem to be joking.”

“I’m sure it’ll be fine. Let’s get to bed, you could probably use the sleep.”

         The next morning was chaotic as usual with the kids wanting breakfast and Bill rushing out the door. After feeding the baby her bottle and getting Peter a bowl of cereal, Elizabeth started the laundry and sat down to write the week’s grocery list. With Peter playing in the family room and Gabrielle falling asleep in her swing, she was able to tend to long ignored chores. The day was slipping away from her and before she knew it, it was after noon. The baby was beginning to fuss so after tending to Gabrielle, she laid the baby in her crib for a nap. Elizabeth sat on the sofa to watch the news and take a much needed break from cleaning when she saw Peter put down his Legos and make his way over to her.

“Hi sweetie. What are you building?” Shrugging his shoulders he stood there, staring at her.

“Honey, do you need something?” She feared what he would say.

“Let’s talk.”

“Um…okay. What do you want to talk about?”

“When I was your father.”

Trying to stay calm, she said, “Peter, I’ve already told you. You were never my father.”

“Yes. Yes, I was. Remember, I had that blue truck and we drove out to that island out on that long bridge. It was so close to the water you could see the fish. You were so scared.”

How could he have known about the blue truck, she thought to herself. But the island and long bridge didn’t make any sense. For once he was wrong, she thought. She didn’t dare ask him any questions, fearful of the answers. Once again the baby began to cry, bringing an end to yet another strange session of the game. Elizabeth jumped up and went to the nursery to tend to the baby while Peter returned to his Legos. After calming Gabrielle, Elizabeth called her mother to ask a few questions.

“I needed to ask you something and it may seem odd.”

“Alright, what do you need, honey?”

“When daddy was alive did we ever drive out to an island?”

Without a moment of hesitation, she answered her daughter. “Oh yes! Don’t you remember that? We were in Florida and you were scared to death. That was the longest bridge I’d ever seen. And the water! The water was up to the side of the road and you could actually see the fish. Your daddy was fascinated by those fish. Why do you ask?”

“Oh…it’s nothing. Did you ever tell that story to Peter?”

“No, why?”

“It’s nothing. I was just wondering.” After saying goodbye to her mother, she got a bottle for the baby. Sitting in the nursery, in it’s quiet, she thought about her son. There was no logical way he could have known these things. She couldn’t understand why this young boy would believe that he was her father, a man born sixty-six years ago, dying thirteen years ago. For Elizabeth the most disturbing fact was not that he thought he was her father but that everything he had said was true.

         That night after Bill was home and the children were asleep, she told her husband what had happened earlier that day.

“Let me get this straight. Peter actually knew something from your childhood that you had forgotten? How is that even possible?”

“I don’t know, I just don’t know. There are no photographs of anything! I’m starting to lose it, Bill. He’s beginning to scare me. I dread laying the baby down for her nap because that’s when it happens.”

“Listen, I’ll talk to him, alright?”

         The couple began getting ready for bed when Elizabeth turned to Bill and asked “What if he really is my father? I know it sounds crazy but they have the same birthday and a lot of the same characteristics  and even the same verbal tics. I never really thought about it before but they do. Do you think it’s possible?”

“You’re becoming irrational. No, I don’t think it’s possible and I’ll find out who’s been telling him these stories and put a stop to it.”

         The next morning was like any other, Bill being late for work, Peter playing and Gabrielle chewing on a teething ring. Elizabeth phoned one of her friends to come over for lunch. Maggie accepted the invitation and told her she’d be over at noon. Elizabeth began tidying up the house, making sure everything looked just right. By noon, the baby was down for her nap and Peter was outside in the backyard. When Maggie arrived, she and Elizabeth sat down in the kitchen, tucking into a lunch of chicken salad and iced tea. Their conversation tended toward their children and husbands but when Maggie, seeing something was wrong, asked what was troubling her friend, Elizabeth confided in her about Peter.

“What should I do? It’s just not normal. What could be wrong with him?”

“Elizabeth, do you believe in reincarnation? Because that would obviously explain it.”

“I never believed it before but I’m beginning to change my mind. Well, what if he was? What should I do because he’s starting to really creep me out.”

“You need to confront him. Next time you lay Gabrielle down, call Peter into the family room and tell him you want to talk. You have to be in control of the conversation. You must remember that.” Maggie explained exactly what Elizabeth should say so she would be ready for tomorrow.

         The rest of the day was uneventful, just taking care of the kids and making dinner. She couldn’t stop thinking about Maggie’s advice and if it would actually work. She knew that tomorrow would come and she would have to face her little boy.

         The morning came just like any other. Elizabeth was tempted to keep the baby awake all day but she knew that wasn’t an option. Alone again with her children, she began her daily chores while Peter played and the baby played on her play mat. The time came to rock Gabrielle to sleep and lay her down for her midday nap. As soon as she was down, Peter came in from the backyard. He found his mother sitting in the family room and she knew what was coming. As he approached her, she asked him to sit down.

“Let’s talk.”

Peter smiled and said, “What do you want to talk about?”

“About when you were my father.”

Elizabeth began to sweat, terrified of what he would say. She looked closely at his chubby face and noticed that his sweet smile had vanished and his eyes appeared hardened.

“What do you want to know,” he replied in a voice that was no longer his. The deep voice shocked his mother; this had not happened before.

“I want to know, um…” Control, she thought, control. “I want to know if it’s really you.” Her voice was beginning to break.

Peter smiled. “Who do you think it could be?”

“I don’t know! You’re my son but you know things. I need to understand.”

“Not everything is as it seems, Lisbet. And there are some things you will never understand. You need to accept that.” He called me Lisbet. That was what he called her when she was little, she thought.

“No, I can’t. You’re four years old! You shouldn’t know these things. Things about death!”

“But I do.”

Now physically shaking, Elizabeth continued to ask questions.

“I need to know…are you happy?”

“Yes, I’m with my family. I missed you so much, Lisbet.”

“I thought you hated me,” she said as tears stung her eyes.

“How could I hate my little girl?”

“It just seemed…you never spoke to me.” Tears poured down her face, forgetting she was speaking to small child.

“Teenagers can be difficult to deal with, honey. You’ll find out soon enough. You were hard to talk to for a while but I never hated you. You’re my Lisbet. Besides we all must make amends for our mistakes. Be sure not to make the same.”

Just then Gabrielle began crying, announcing to everyone she was up from her nap.

“No! Not yet! I’m not done! Why are you here? Wait!”

But it was too late.

“Mommy, why are you crying,” he asked in his sweet voice.

“Peter, is that you?”

“Yeah, mommy. Who else would I be?”

         With the baby wailing in the background, Elizabeth had to ask one more question.

“Peter, do you remember all the talks we’ve had lately?”

“Talks? Mommy, we haven’t played that in a long time.”

“You don’t remember the blue truck?”

“What blue truck? We don’t have a blue truck.”

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