She blew smoke gently in the direction of my face and laughed warmly. It was a familiar gesture and I didn’t quite like it. Her eyes held mine and she asked, “How does it feel now?” I chose to ignore her question and instead took this opportunity to trace the lines slowly converging at the corners of her eyes. They used to appear only in times of exceptional laughter but have been increasing in frequency. Could be the smoking. I have been enjoying them as a sign of the good times we are having, but now I worry about aging. The smoking at me and light teasing has made me feel far from her. I reach for her left hand and feel the new heft in each of my swollen knuckles. I am shocked when the cold of her fingertips graze mine and I can’t help but examine them. She has painted her fingernails a light iridescent blue. It suits me. Her. It suits her. “I feel like I need it,” she says. “In my blood and my bones, I feel restless without it.” She lets go of my hand to search for another cigarette. I help her light it. I tell her, “I feel like I need it. I feel restless without the desire for it.”
“It’s weird” she whispers. I search in her eyes and see the same fear I feel flickering there. “We’ll get used to it right? The doctor said it takes some adjusting…and it’s only our first time. If we don’t like it, we can go back for another procedure and we can be ourselves again. We will still be in love and it won’t be a total loss because we will be closer by having this experience of shared fear. Right?” I nod silently and squeeze her cold hand lightly.
We had hoped to be like the others we knew in life and onscreen who had the procedures successfully. Couples who reincarnated as each other so many times their lives were a steady line of back and forth consciousness breathed through each other’s mouths. So many times they became entwined in body and mind it eventually became unnecessary for there to be two minds, two bodies and they would choose one permanently.
But I have been in his mind for 23 hours now and I know there is not enough here to love for a lifetime, let alone many.