The Young Woman

Her dying words were “This isn’t the first time.” Those words were spoken while I was the only one in the room with her. I don’t know why she chose to say them to me, but she did. Perhaps it was because I’d known her my entire twelve years by then, but I never thought I was important to her. I only knew her because her parents and my parents were close, so she babysat me while she was in high-school. I shouldn’t have been important to her at all, but she waited until everyone but me was gone, said the words, and died before anyone could get back.

She died, and I lived on. I lived a completely normal life, at least as far as anyone can be normal. I eventually went to high-school, then college, and finally got a decent job, but I never forgot those words. At times when I was alone and bored I’d think on them. Why would she tell them to me? More importantly, did they mean something, or were they just the last spasms of a mind already gone? I wouldn’t say I was plagued by these thoughts, but they never quite left me either.

“And it won’t be the last.”

I turned around to see someone smiling at me. I’d never seen her before, but she acted like we’d known each other for years. Admittedly, now that I think about it, she had a familiar presence. Everybody’s felt it. You see someone you’ve never met and they look vaguely familiar, but you have no idea why. They don’t necessarily look like anybody you know or have ever seen, yet they seem familiar nonetheless. I felt this with her, but stronger, like perhaps I had known her for years, but in a past life. My thoughts strayed to my old babysitter and her dying words. It was a ridiculous idea, she’d been dead for twenty years at that point, but I couldn’t shake the thoughts away.

Perhaps it’ll sound fantastical, but I honestly do believe she was the same as my former babysitter. She had claimed to be, and at first I thought she was crazy, but she knew details of my young life that even my mother didn’t know. She also told me her last words.
Two years later she died. She had a growth in her brain. The doctors said it was cancer, but I’m not so sure. The first time, I thought dying that way, at age twenty-two, was the worst thing that could ever happen to somebody, but her actual condition is much worse. To live like that, over and over, knowing that each time you have such a short expiration date, that is unfathomable. To her credit, she never seemed distraught, perhaps she’s used to it by now. She didn’t say the same words to me this time. All she said, after everyone else had left the room was “I’ll see you later.”

If it happens the same as last time, I should see her again in ten years, if I’m still alive then. I’m not sure I want to. I’ve loved her twice now, and I don’t think I can bear a third time. I don’t want to have to lose her again.

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