Have you ever lost a few hours? Ever woken up to find a day has passed of which you remember nothing? Sometimes stories are heard of someone acting completely out of character who then denies the whole thing when they return to their senses.
My kind are to blame for many of those stories. Our existence is a curse. We get only a day in each body before we have to move on. Childhood is too short a blessing for us. Childhood is the only time we get to relax in one form for more than twenty four hours. Getting ejected from that first shell is just the first of a daily cycle of possession.
I have a watch that I pass between my hosts. I reset the countdown each time I leave a confused shell for a new one. The novelty of change wears thin in no time at all. It’s hard to keep track of others. My mum lost track of my father and I while I was just a baby.
As the first of our many sins we must steal our children from the fleshy hosts who’s bodies begot them. My parents had to live with the guilt of knowing that the two bodies they possessed would grieve the loss of a child that was never theirs.
I look for the exchange of watches everywhere. Every blank stare might be a sign that one of my kind is nearby, that I might escape this solitary existence. We live our lives running. Nothing but the long shadow of death is chasing us. If we stay longer than a day we’re stuck and not much later we die. My father ran out of time in solitary confinement for the crimes of his host. At least the guilt of that hosts death haunted the warders. My actions in their body expressed my revenge, I probably took things too far.
Without my mother and father I’ve been alone for years. I want to end this sometimes, my life seems futile and selfish. To exist I screw with other peoples lives. If I die though I take them with me. If I kill myself in their body we both die and if I stay too long and get stuck my death destroys their mind rendering them brain dead. As much as this existence seems pointless sometimes I could never kill another through my own fatalism. I’m stuck with this until I make the last mistake or I find a way out.
How did we come into being? How would creatures evolve into us? We burn each bridge we cross never to return to that last home. My only constant possession is my watch which rarely fits me and I’m always counting down the hours remaining until I have to leave. The only real knowledge I have of what I am is the word wisp. In research I’ve read that wisps are ethereal forces of nature. So far so true. Books also say that wisps are the vapours of life itself which in some places makes sense. In others the idea contradicts everything about our cursed existence. If we are such powerful forces of life then why do we die if we remain in one body for more than one day?
We live like parasites travelling from host to host. I feel like a germ being spread by handshakes and wonder sometimes if my life is bound to the watch. My father gave it to me. The first present I ever received. The only present I kept after I was seven, after my first swap. The first swap always happens around the seventh year my dad told me, by then every cell has been remade and the ties to that body are gone. No other body is ever so compatible and each bridge will be burnt as it’s crossed. I will never be at peace, never be home at last. I rent each day of a life I cannot afford. There’s a poem that sums it up which I believe a wisp must have written;
We live for just one moment at a time,
For today this moment’s mine,
My new eyes see the world each day,
And then they blink and I move on,
And like the moment I am gone.
It could be interpreted as upbeat but I think that instead of telling us to embrace the moment the poem reminds us that we are trapped in it feebly searching for the next. In a similar way when we leave the first shell we leave an entirely new creature to look upon the world. I took seven years of memories with me when I left that body. First shells can actually live normal lives if they can catch up on some of those lost years of learning. They pick up knowledge must faster the second time around. My father left my first shell to its blood relatives with a note;
This child is no longer my son but yours, love him as I do. The empty shell sat outside the door like a baby in a basket and was warmly embraced by both parents who had since then brought other children into the world. The shell is still considered slow but has embraced the new life well. He is the only comfort I have when I’m down. I know that despite the heartache caused when my parents stole that body from the hospital with me inside they tore a deep wound into that couple which they did their best to mend. It seems that the hollow child they received from my father did more to heal those wounds than anything else ever could. I like seeing them together. My old shell holding the hand of one of those two happy creatures. He seems calm, relaxed. He has all the time in the world. If only we were all so lucky.
Books are my fraying lifeline in the endless search for a conclusion to my condition. I have to find a way to break the endless cycle I’m trapped in. My life is contradictory, I only age in mind while I wander between minds. I am an immortal parasite. Its been so long since I lost my father to this curse, longer since we lost my mother in the essential trade of forms. I’ve lived on the edge of endless lives, treading the borders of my hosts social contacts. I want what they take for granted. I want peace, a body of my own.