Anderson Miles felt an extraordinary connection to the Earth from the day he was born. As soon as he could, he asked his parents if this was normal.
“Enjoy your life,” his father answered. “Live in the present or you’ll never be fulfilled.”
Keeping this advice in mind, Anderson traveled the world. He watched sunrises over the Atlantic and sunsets over the Pacific. The more he saw, the more he wanted to see.
Satiation was always just out of reach.
As he aged, he knew he would someday die, and thus began to miss the Earth long before he perished from it.
The relentless anticipation of his death created in him a powerful yearning.
A yearning he carried with him into his next life.
Prior to his second birth, his parents had a name picked out for him, but his desire and will was stronger than theirs.
“Anderson Miles,” they said, despite the difficulty in its pronunciation given their forked tongues.
Anderson didn’t recall his past life until, as a youngling, while gazing at the stars, he recognized a familiar constellation.
Everything rushed in. Waves upon waves of memories and desires.
He understood that those who dwelled in caves and foraged for food didn’t have long life spans, so he worked tirelessly to implement as many societal changes as he could.
He taught them to harness fire, forge wheels, and grow crops.
If only they were more technologically advanced. Then, perhaps… No, surely Earth was too far away.
The next time Anderson Miles was born his memories came to him almost immediately.
He breezed through school as if he already knew all the answers to all the questions. His fathers and mother were very proud.
As a young man, he moved to the peak of a giant hill, built a domed tower, and invented what he called a telescope.
“Earth,” he said to those who had gathered, trying to make them understand. “That is my home.”
They could see the tiny blue and green planet through the lens, but they merely cocked their heads and blinked at Anderson.
“Don’t any of you remember your first homes? Surely I’m not the only one.”
Anderson Miles was different. He lived in solitude. He shunned society, locked away in his tower.
They burned his body and he continued screaming into his next life.
He learned not to ask.
Anderson tapped the bio-electric motes floating in the air before him. This world was highly advanced, and this body responded to his desires on an almost preternatural level.
Cryogenics would keep him alive during the long journey to Earth. He boarded the inter-stellar vessel in the firm grip of excitement.
When the asteroid collided with the ship, no one on board felt even the slightest pain.
The last thing Anderson Miles remembered was being inside a small chamber. Gas had filled his nostrils and he’d closed his eyes. He should have woken and descended toward Earth triumphant in his return, eager to see the advances they’d made during the lives he’d lived elsewhere.
The stubs where his arms and legs should be flailed uselessly and his speech didn’t come out as he’d planned.
He observed others through blurry eyes, trapped, unable to express his desires.
“Must’ve been all them drugs his Mama done,” the midwife speculated.
The enunciation of the words was foreign, but he understood their meaning.
His first father’s words rang bitterly in his ears, and when he tried to live in the present he felt only anger and resentment. The cruelty of having life, and not being able to live burned his soul with a desire stronger than he’d ever known.
He died with a vengeance, awaiting his rebirth.
Anderson Miles was a prophet. But his was a tragic life. For each new invention, he felt no relief.
Someone asked him, “Why do you push yourself so relentlessly?”
“Should I return again someday, I want you to be ready.”
Anderson Miles pioneered a space program, urging his people to the stars.
They listened. They built. They carried on in his name.
At the time of his passing, they’d reached their nearest moon, but Anderson had said they needed to go farther. Much farther. Deep into space.
They said they would. For him.
The desire to return home had grown.
“You are home,” his people said.
“Am I?” He surveyed their orange faces. He observed his orange arms, his eight orange fingers, his orange legs, covered only by shorts to keep him cool from this planet’s relentless heat.
He gazed heavenward. “No. I’m not.”
An old man named Anderson Miles sat in a chair in direct sunlight, withering, his scales all but shed. His caregivers monitored his every breath and kept fresh paste on his remaining scales lest he slip away when they weren’t watching.
“Let me go,” he begged. He was ready to start anew. Why didn’t they understand?
“You have taught us a great many things. We need you,” they replied, blotting out the sun as they flitted around him. The alternating cold and heat nearly drove him mad.
Eventually, medicine could no longer keep Anderson Miles tethered to his body.
Anderson awoke in an incubator. Human faces peered through hard plastic at his tube-covered body. Hands covered in latex comforted him.
He calculated. If he were lucky, he’d get seventy years. Maybe eighty.
What were eighty years compared to the thousands he’d lived? Eighty would be over in a blink.
Already, he could feel his longing growing, consuming.
Anderson Miles began to miss Earth.
Starting on the day he was born.
Dustin Adams is a U.S. Customs broker and currently owns his own brokerage business. He writes in the wee hours of the morning, in the dark, when no one else can see.