Copyright © 2011 by William R. Mistele. All rights reserved.
(from the introduction to the story, Mermaid Assassin)
I enjoy the rhythm of the waves and the drops of spray splashing on my face as the hull surges into the trough and breaks through the next wave’s crest. The ocean surrounds me. The wind gusts and shifts and I trim the sail in response. The wind and I are like two lovers who blend in harmony as we dance.
Sailing out here by myself on the ocean there are no conflicts--on the open ocean nothing changes. The days and months and decades—the ocean is always the same.
But the truth is that I do not think of my past as past. It is like I am standing still. I am not going forward. I am now. There is no “I was” or “I will be,” only “I am here now.”
And that is how I felt long ago when I fled from Atlantis. My story has conflict and resolution. It has plot and movement. But for me, time, like the ocean, does not move forward. The flow of events in the outer world does not change who I am inside.
I like to sleep by the beach to be close to water. It washes away everything bad and all tension leaves me so I feel only peace. Being under the full moon is like putting a battery charger into a wall socket--I feel recharged.
These things are not surprising. As a child, I loved the water. I would stay in the bath for six hours and sometimes more. I would sometimes fall asleep with my mouth and nose just above the surface.
On the one hand, I hate thinking about myself as being different from other people. I would like to think that at most I am maybe a strange kid. Maybe some of the things I do are a little odd. I am a bit lonely, boring, and misunderstood. I would like to think there is nothing more to it.
But on the other hand? I do not know if I am human. I do not like thinking about myself as one because the things I do seem so natural—things others can not understand or accept. For example, why would anyone want to hurt someone else? And why do people not accept the good and the bad in their lovers? Isn’t love supposed to be without conditions? Isn’t always loving and supporting the other person a normal thing to do?
There are other things. I am not talking about the fact that I like to sit in the dark by myself and that I can see in the dark. It has more to do with my empathy.
When someone around me is experiencing an intense, heavy emotion, I spontaneously feel the other’s sadness. I will cry wearing myself out and then fall asleep. If the emotions are too strong or coming from too many people at once I may even pass out.
I laugh at myself as I say this but I am like a reverse vampire. I do not take others’ energy to restore myself. Rather, I take their aches and pain into myself and heal them in the process. I do this spontaneously. I have no control over it.
But there is more. I enter others’ memories and then I live those memories as if they are my own. I am back in time inside the other person’s body.
I call it “watching a movie” except I am an actor on set playing the part of the other person. A man tells me he is depressed because his wife has left him. Instantly, I am inside his mind watching what actually happened. She says to him, “You are worthless.” I hear her words. I see her face. I feel her slap me. I recall what happened with equal or better clarity that the person’s own recollection.
Although this entering the other’s memory can take place in a moment, for me the experience can go on for hours. I can not make it stop.
The empathy began when I was seven years old. At that time I was raised by my grandparents. My mother was rarely around. She still does not like me. Her words, “I wish you were never born. Having you has ruined my life.”
When my grandfather died, I went to the funeral and could feel what everyone around me was feeling. Because I was upset that he died, he came to me that night in a dream to calm me down. He showed me where he was. It was the prettiest place on earth—so peaceful and happy. He told me I was the most open and receptive of all the family members.
He visits me in dreams and warms me about danger and lectures me about all sorts of things. We also argue. My body is asleep but my mind is awake. When we have been arguing all night I will wake up in the morning and feel like I had not slept at all.
He tells me things such as that a certain person is going to hurt me or someone else. He even studies some of my friends to see if they have a good heart. For me, my grandfather is far more alive now than he was when he was still living.
But I never knew when he will come to talk to me. He does not come when I try to contact him.
One time he told me to call 911 because my grandma, who was still alive, had just had a heart attack. I called 911 and they broke down the door to her apartment and found her lying on the floor. She had had a heart attack just as he had said.
It is not just my grandfather I talk to. I talk to other departed people also. With some the communication is mind to mind without words or thoughts. With others, I talk to them exactly the same as I talk to living people. Some seem trapped here close to our world and unable to move on. Like the ghost who is attached to the used dresser I moved into my room. The ghost looks through all of my things and comments on my clothes. He will not tell me anything about himself. Because of his annoying comments, I can no longer change clothes in that room.
I do not easily trust people because of all the bad experiences I have had with them. Men have betrayed me because they are selfish, but what they want has always been obvious. Women are another matter. They have been mean and cruel for no reason whatsoever. But I still love them and even when my friends are treacherous and betray me, I still remain friends with them.
When I meet new people I can tell the first moment I see them, at their first word, if they are dangerous. When one of my friends introduced me to another girl, I told my friend later that this woman would hurt her. I wish I had been wrong. But it turned out the other woman spread nasty rumors about my friend. My friends think I am judgmental when I warn them in this way. But I am never wrong about these things.