The womb should have been a perfect place for a soul to grow a body.  Maybe most wombs were a sanctuary of warmth and peace, with soft murmurs of love whispering through the walls and the gentle sway of life rocking the soul into gentle slumber.  This one, however, had not been so idyllic.  Angry voices, drunken movements, and the bitter taste of stress flooded the womb and left the little soul on edge, anxious tension his constant companion.   It came as no surprise when his departure held the same intensity. 

    The day begins as any other.  He wakes to apprehension; his mother’s distaste for him a tangible anguish.  Yet a sort of relief comes briefly to his senses as they travel, and a bud of hope begins to blossom that perhaps she has finally made peace with his existence. He doesn’t know enough about the world to recognize that her release is his destruction.  In one sharp moment, the blackness overtakes him and his soul floats free from the flesh to which he once belonged.  Suddenly, a rush of light pulls him back into consciousness and he awakens once again in a place just the same yet different from the one before. 

    Tension contracts his muscles, and his limbs flail uselessly as the body accommodates his intrusion. He sees his hands reach and grasp, the tiny fingers waving, but he can’t move them like he used to; they have a life of their own.  The soft pink walls surround him as before, but the sensation is altogether different, as if he were merely a spectator in this world and no longer a participant, his mind still strong and active, but his body a useless weight.  Slowly, awareness dawns, and he discovers he is not alone.  There is someone else sharing his tiny universe.

    She is surprised by his arrival, but not frightened.  She can sense his gentle nature.  He is happy to be with her, in his new home, so much more peaceful than his first.  He feels the love of her mother, hears her singing tender lullabies and speaking to them in reverent tones.  Months go by, and although they do not understand time yet, they know they are changing rapidly.  Each day brings new awareness, new sensations, and they sense an eagerness in their mother, an anticipation of change soon to come.

    The day began differently than all the others, with pain wracking their mother’s body, the walls of her womb contracting, squeezing, jostling them, their mother’s cries sharp and terrifying, accompanying each spasm.  The attacks continued through the day and into the night, growing longer and more violent, till they thought their world would collapse upon them, crushing them with the weight of their mother’s agony.  But instead, all at once their world expands.

    Sound, once the soothing rhythm of life, pulsing gently outside — now invades, harsh and piercing, ripping wide the barrier, flooding them with sensation.  The light consumes them, touch awakens their skin, and they cry out.  The sound of their own voice frightens them, setting off a torrent of cries, until they are swaddled in blankets and laid to rest, the familiar thrum of their mother’s heart once again drowning out the chaos around them.  The child settles into slumber on her mother’s breast, and her companion plays back the first moments of their life for her, reliving the wonder and the terror.   His first chance at life ended before it began, but his second chance had begun in earnest, an exhilarating explosion of sights and sounds and textures.  He didn’t know yet that he wasn’t really living, his chance at life already forfeited, his destiny tied up in hers.