We are playing a game at recess; sort of a hybrid of the hand slapping game that was in our opinion sooo last year and Marco Polo. One person sits with her eyes closed and her hands out, palms side up. The other slaps the awaiting hands, trying not to get caught in the grip of the first girl who is, naturally, trying to grab a hand. It is hard enough to grab someone when you can see them, but absolutely impossible with your eyes closed. And Lindsey can always tell if you are cheating. Who knows why we are still playing the stupid game but here we are. Looking at the new glittery Bonne Belle lipgloss Heather brought only took up five minutes of the long recess. We need to look busy so that we don't have to talk to any of the icky boys that none of us has admitted we actually like yet. So here I am, sitting cross-legged in the grass with five girls staring at my hands, my eyes dutifully squeezed tight.
Instead of a slap, I feel a light brush on each wrist, sending chills down my spine. My eyes spring open. I jerk my hands back as if burned and rub my wrists dramatically. “Ew. Why did you do that?” I squeak.
“What?” Shauna says. We all stare at her. “This?” she asks and reaches for my wrist again. Everyone laughs and squeals.
This time I jump up, furious. “I hate being touched there. Seriously, I hate it! I can’t even look at my wrists. Gross!”
Shauna bends her hands back torward the ground and comes after me with her wrists pointing at a very creepy angle.
“Arrrgggghhhh!” I scream and run around the circle a few times, Shauna chasing me. We laugh and sit again.
Lindsey leans forward. “I heard that means that in your last life, you must have slit your wrists."
"What?" I say, indignant. I am a fairly practical child, my love of ghost stories notwithstanding. But, we are in the fourth grade and speaking of suicides and past lives is taboo and makes my skin feel prickly.
"Yeah," she says. "For instance, I cannot stand to be under covers, which means I was smothered to death."
The idea makes us very excited. It explains every quirk we'd ever had, and those of our families. My little sister must've choked on gum and that's why she doesn't like it! My Mother surely drowned in a past life, which would explain her fear of water! Heather's obscene affection for pigs probably meant that a friendly swine had gotten her out of a pickle a couple of lives back. Maybe I could explain away my irrational fear of running during P.E. by being chased by a killer back in the olden days of my own yore. Of course I don't like to run, the repressed memories are simply too much for me to handle. It has nothing to do with my being lazy.
This conversation has followed me into adulthood. Even though I know it's ridiculous, I still play the game in my head almost daily. I am constantly assigning 'Death Bys' while listening to the phobias and dislikes of other people. You don't like mayonnaise? Choked on tuna salad. Scared to death of clowns? Heart attack while watching a circus. Always hot? Burned at the stake. Don't like to wear chokers? Hanged. Definitely.
I'm sorry. I simply can't help but guess. Which means in my past life, I must've been Sherlock Holmes.
*photo by Paul Adrian.