Before Yourself, and After by Lillie Irene (Senior)

Bill was a simple man. He worked a nine-to-five job and rented the basement of his mother’s duplex. He wasn’t happy, but he wasn’t miserable and that was enough for Bill. Bill liked the mediocracy that his life followed. Nothing interesting happened to Bill, and Bill was definitely not interesting. If the color beige was a person, it would be Bill.

It was a normal day for Bill at his normal job at his normal desk. His phone began to ring but when Bill reached out for it, it had seemed the phone disappeared. Perplexed, Bill got up, moving files and papers searching for the phone that was not there. Bill began to sit back down and found himself falling to the floor. His chair was gone. He turned his head up in frustration and to his surprise, the roof (along with his phone and desk chair) was gone. Last time he checked, there was not an order for a new skylight, so why in the world could Bill see the clouds from his cubicle. However, the clouds began to glitch, pieces of the blue sky began to turn black as if the sky was a screen that had recently been shattered.

And so the sky fell, and the clouds dissipated. The grass faded from existence as the flowers began to wilt. The walls around Bill began to crumble, and everything worldly ceased to exist. Bill was very afraid. Every person, every animal, every bug, every plant, along with everything there ever was began to fall from existence one by one. As chaos ensued Bill’s reality, Bill stood there unmoved. The instinctual fear that occupied Bill’s being in its entirety soon left him and a wave of uncertain calm washed over him. Bill knew that this was the end but was confused as to why he was left untouched as his world became a void. Bill was now engulfed in the everlasting nothingness. Blacker than black, his surroundings became the absence he saw when he closed his eyes. After what seemed to be an eternity of empty silence, Bill was startled by a feminine voice coming from what seemed to be every direction (not that bill could tell direction in the midst of the void). “Congratulations, you have reached the end,” the voice echoed.

“The end?” Bill’s voice shook as it squeaked out from his throat, “Am I dead?”

“Yes,” the voice replied and Bill’s heart dropped, “well, at least this life has come to its end. But this is the last one you will have to endure, you have now graduated to the end of your earthly existences.”

“Wait—‘existences’? ‘Existences’ as in plural? Does this mean reincarnation is real? Are you god? What do you mean I’ve graduated’?” Bill’s mind was racing and his questions began to fill the void that surrounded him.

“Yes, ‘existences’ as in plural. Reincarnation is real, but not in the way you’ve previously studied. As I am not god in the way you have studied god to be. I am all-being. I created the world you have spent your Earthly lifetimes upon, and I have created your single consciousness, but I am not above you for we are equal. I stood in the same position you find yourself in now and you will stand in mine”.

“Oh… well how many lives have I lived, then?”

“All of them. You see, you have lived every life there is to live. Every person, every plant, every bug, and every living organism was you as you were them. We have met many times before, at the end of each of your earthly lives we spoke and then you journeyed back for your next life. Before this you were a mammoth during the ice age, and before that you were a young girl in the 1920’s, and before that a poor man in the same time period. You see, time here does not exist the way that it does in the human plane. It goes forwards and backwards and folds over itself, you have existed at the same time as yourself, before yourself, and after. Every person you’ve ever loved was you loving yourself and every person you’ve ever hated was you hating yourself. You have done very wrong things. You have hurt people as well as yourself. You have raged and rioted. However, you have also done very kind things. You have healed others as well as yourself. You have inspired growth and have been the catalyst for positive change. And now, you have learned all of the lessons there are to learn. You have done all of the bad there was to do. You were all of the good there was to be. You have lived every life there was to live.” Bill stood quiet for quite some time, he processed his new information about himself and chose his next question with intent and careful thinking.

“What now? You’ve said that I’ve lived every life there is to live, and I just watched my cubicle cease to exist. I’ve stood as the skies began to fall and the atmosphere blackened. Now all that I ask to know is what now?” Bill said, but this time his words were clear and precise.

“Now, with all of the knowledge there is to learn, all of the empathy there is to gain, and with all of the experience there is to have, you will become me. You will become an all-being and live on to create the next world, and the next consciousness.” The all being reached out her hand and pressed the tip of her first finger upon Bill’s forehead, between his eyes, and spoke an unfamiliar language. As her whispers filled the void and thus Bill’s ears, flashes from every life there ever was flipped through his head. Every smell, every sound, every sight, every taste, every texture rushed through his body and Bill began to cry. As his tears danced down his cheeks, his form fell to nothing, joining the void. All that was left of Bill was nothing but the consciousness that the all-being had created. It was relentless and it was strong. It was chaos and it was balance. It was good and it was evil. It was everything there ever was and all there is to be. It was the next all being.