The Reincarnation of Lydia Ashes

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She opened her eyes to a pitch-black silence so loud she could barely speak.


Lydia couldn’t see a thing, nor could she remember how she stumbled upon her current situation. The only thing in her head was a song. It was a pop song with a catchy hook, and a rhythm to really move to. It played over and over in her head as she tried to feel her way around the darkness.

“Is anybody there?” She called out to the darkness in what seemed to be a squeak, knowing that the presence that lingered around her could in no way be her imagination.

“Lydia, Lydia Ashes?” a male voice asked, deeply from across the black.

“Yes, who are you, where am I?” Lydia was more excited than scared, even though she had no idea who that voice belonged to, or where she was, or how she even arrived there. The predicament that she now faced was to try and run into the darkness away from the unknown voice, or pray that her salvation lay within it. She decided to go with option B. “Please,” she said, amicably.

“My name is Dexter Valentine, and you Lydia have arrived in the middle. You’ve lived, and

now that you’ve joined the middle, you’ve died.” Mr. Valentine didn’t say any of this with despair or negativity. He was speaking in a hopeful tone, and sounded content with his reality. Lydia heard the voice and what was said better than she had heard anything ever before. It’s like the middle enhanced every sound, every syllable that had been spoken. Of course, someone with a better grasp on common sense would have drawn to the conclusion that without one sense, the others will heighten, and since she found herself in complete darkness, obviously, her hearing would be better.

“In the middle, you exist in a different way. You no longer have a human body as your host. You still appear in the same form, and you still see and feel the same way but it is rather amplified. It’s rather a pure existence without the flesh and bones to confine you.”

“What are you talking about? I died? This must be some kind of joke. I couldn’t have died. I was just—wait, what was I doing? Why can’t I remember?”

As Lydia began putting the pieces together, the more logical version of herself wanted to pinch her own arm to wake up from this freakish dream. But for some reason, no matter how hard she fought the feeling of acceptance, it took over because of the facts.

She couldn’t remember what happened, nor the last thing she was doing. She began trying

to think of what she did the past weekend, past summer, even when she was a young girl spending family summers… where was it again? It was as if her whole life had vanished from her memory like it never happened, and all that she tried to remember now was just her own imagination trying to fill in blanks she had no business filling in.

‘This can’t be happening,’ she thought to herself, not wanting to scare the only other voice she had come across, in well, she was not quite sure how long.

“But it is happening,” Valentine said to Lydia with a stern, almost convincing manner. “I’m not sure how you were taken from your body, but you were. And there is no going back from here. Not to the existence you will soon begin to remember, at least. So, you needn’t worry yourself with that now. All that you have to do here is enjoy the wait.”

Lydia wondered how Valentine could have possibly heard her thoughts, but with what was going on right now, she thought she had in fact said it aloud, and was mistaken.

“What are we waiting for?”

“Our chance to carry out another life. Our souls will be put into a new body and we will be reborn to start another life all over again. Unfortunately, once our soul reaches the body, all recollection of the middle will have vanished, but I guess that’s just the price you

pay for everlasting life. You see, when you leave your human body, the energy that is your soul exits back into the universe and comes

here, the 5th dimension. It’s a level of the universe that cannot be seen or discovered by human existence because the grasp of it is just not available with the constraints of the human brain. The brain, albeit powerful as it may be, is nowhere near as powerful as what the universe can maintain, create and destroy, especially with its sheer focus on the known dimensions. And dear Lydia, that’s what you are now. Energy, waiting for another human host, and I say host for lack of a better word, and because it seems to be the easiest of explanations.”

Valentine continued to speak of the middle to Lydia as if she wasn’t having some sort of breakdown of reality. He said things like ‘wondrous’ and ‘delightful’. He also said things about terror, and that’s when she really started to pay attention. He continued to tell Lydia stories of old friends that had passed through the middle from body to body while he sat, awaiting his chance. She got the sense that he wasn’t being entirely honest. Something inside her was screaming that what he was saying was shrouded with lies, but she didn’t want to hold onto the fantasy that she wasn’t dead for too long, or that the only other person she had encountered was a big fat liar, so she tried as hard as she could to take his words for what they were.

“I imagine my soul did not use my body for good use and that the energy that left my body was mostly negative, and that’s why I’ve been stuck in the middle so long. It’s not a rule that negative energy takes longer to formulate, thus taking longer to reformulate, but here those are just the rules. Although, being here for as long as I have has made me realize how many good souls the universe has. And for that, I am grateful.”

Lydia was starting to think this Dexter Valentine was a faceless lunatic, and she almost wished she were alone in the darkness again. Almost. A scent crept into her nose, and although her memories were nowhere to be found, for some reason she recognized it immediately. It was a garden. A vast garden. The mixture of smells was almost nauseatingly intoxicating but she was glad to have some sort of memory of her so-called life on earth. She could still hear the pop song she woke up to playing over and over in her head. It was the only memory she had left from being alive upon waking in the middle and as far as she knew, the middle was where she always was, and the life she thought she once had, was nothing but a beautiful nightmare she couldn’t

piece together properly, if at all. When Lydia appeared in the darkness, she didn’t know what to think. She didn’t remember any light at the end of any tunnel or floating to the heavens. Everything just became dark; with the same darkness of turning off a lamp,

crawling underneath a heavy blanket, and nodding off into a deep dreamless sleep at the end of a long day. That’s why as soon as she reached the middle all confusion set in. She felt as though she had just gone to sleep but woke up somewhere entirely different within a split second. And it seemed as if she was in an incredibly vivid dream. A dream so real, in fact, that it not only scared her to her core, it brought her back to being a curious child, wanting to explore every crevice of the new

world around her with a sense of courageous wonder. All the energy she could feel in the world whilst being alive was heightened here without a human body to separate her from it. It was liberating to be so terrified that she had no other choice but to be brave. And she soon realized that the feelings she would experience upon entering the new dimension were just the beginning of what the middle had to offer.

Once Valentine rescued Lydia from her dream in the darkness, he led her out of it and they reached something so different from the first phase. Something so painfully beautiful, the sight of it could make a grown man cry. Lydia could see for what seemed to be the first time in a long time. She squinted her eyes the way one does when opening the curtains to a sun-filled morning while the brightness focused. The scent made sense to her now.

“What is this place?” she asked in awe.

Valentine looked at Lydia and chuckled, small and condescending.

She couldn’t read what that meant but as her eyes met the beauty around her she didn’t care. She was hypnotized. “You don’t ask questions when you’re blessed with the chance to see this,” Valentine said with conviction. “You enjoy it.”

“Isn’t everybody blessed with the chance to see this though?” She asked sarcastically, and Valentine just gave her a slight shrug and a smirk.

Lydia followed Valentine through the amazement of this place he called the middle. There were lilies everywhere, all different colours. Purple lilies, blue lilies, cream and

even pink. Every colour you could possibly think of blended together in a vibrant backdrop more beautiful than a priceless piece of artwork. Astonished, Lydia went to pick one of the beautiful flowers.

“Don’t!” Valentine screamed. “You must not touch anything here. It doesn’t belong to you.”

“What do you mean it doesn’t belong to me, who does it belong too?”

“Just not you.” Lydia was muddled, but she came to the conclusion that she clearly wasn’t going to get anywhere with Mr. Mystery, so she decided to keep her hands to herself and her eyes wide open. They sauntered through the amazement in silence for the next little while, but it wasn’t awkward or uncomfortable. It gave Lydia the feeling of being content, and that she did not mind.

“Is there anyone else here, I mean it can’t just

be us two waiting for new bodies.”

“Of course, there are others here,” Valentine said, again condescendingly, as if it was a ridiculous question to even think, let alone ask. “Thousands upon thousands, but there are many different places here in the middle. Certain ones you want to visit on a regular basis, and others you hope and pray you never stumble upon. A lot of souls pick one place they favour out of all and just stay there for the entire duration of their stay here. Unlike them, I like to explore. That’s how I stumbled upon you.”

“Oh, so you weren’t there to find me? You mean, I could have been in that darkness alone after all? But you knew my name.”

“Yeap,” Valentine said, matter-of-factly avoiding eye contact. That was all he said which left Lydia to wonder why it seemed he was lying again, but she played along anyway. This moment was one she didn’t want to ruin and if he wasn’t going to tell the whole truth she wasn’t going to bother asking why. But she knew now that there was something he wasn’t telling her, and if she ever got bored, she’d find out—one way or another.

“Well, I’m awfully glad you like to roam, Dexter,” she said biding in to his obvious deception.

“Me too, Lydia.”

As they walked they came across a large hill, which looked like a mountain from where Lydia was standing. At the top stood a crystal-

like arch that shone like a faint gleam of sunlight poking through a thick cloud cover. Valentine didn’t even stop. He started up the hill like he had done it a thousand times. It was steep, and rocky, and had no branches or trees to help balance up the rough terrain. Lydia followed as quickly as possible and as they approached the top Valentine whispered to Lydia, “brace yourself,” and she for the split second before she scaled the top, she couldn’t figure out if he meant for a more rigorous climb or for something else entirely.

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