The reason I came back? Because I wanted to swim. I would breaststroke into my next life, the one where I became a sailor and joined the Navy, where I was tall instead of short, perplexed instead of cautious—a life of salt, tattoos, and liver damage.
No. The real reason I came back was because my mother died. I came back to sort through her photos, her face creams, to pack up her historical novels and donate her clothes.
I used her face creams. I donated her clothes. I was civil to the sister I despised.
I missed my old bed. The dent at the end of the lumpy mattress where I put my feet. I missed being cold and then climbing in and pulling the covers over my head.
I was tired. I just needed to sleep. I thought I might sleep a few weeks, months, years. When rested, I would go out into the world again, at first blinking at the bright unaccustomed light, and then, then I would take over the world. I would have the persistence and cleverness of an ant colony. I would be as insidious as a tick, as glow-in-the-dark as a rabbit. I would lope across the grassy hills, my ears pricked. And if I didn’t wake up again, I would jump into the next life, small and wet, fresh, gleaming with newness, the old skin squeezing off as I slid through the tunnel swimming.