'Reincarnation 4.0' by Nan Wigington

Earlier versions lacked imagination. Dead lovers had few options. You could come back as a pansy or a begonia…and the only color you could pick was pink. Families of pink begonias sat on window sills, ignored, thirsty, and wishing they could at least grow into each other’s pots. Generations of pale pansies turned their backs on each other, sought out the sun instead, and never lasted beyond spring.

Things improved by 2.1. You could come back as a brown cocktail ant, a white-faced saki monkey, or a Venus flytrap. Most engineers thought families would love the complex social mores of the brown cocktail. Only two engineers liked the monkey and the flytrap. Still they rushed Reincarnation back to market leaving those elements in. That could account for why flytraps look so dangerous and the sakis look so lonely. They can’t find their people and are unhappy with all these complexities and mores.

By 3.9, the species list had grown to six million two hundred and five. Timing, though, was wonky. You might appear minutes before your beloved disappeared. I knew of one couple: He showed up as a flatfish in the Baltic Sea just as she became a Baltic fisherman’s flatfish lunch. And what about the newlyweds who came back as a ponderosa pine and a pine beetle? Not a good way to start any marriage. Delivery, too, was awful. Irises popped out of women’s wombs while human babies had to scrabble through dirt to find air.

Now they have 4.0. When you died, I volunteered. What else could I do? The process has been endless. I suppose the engineers wanted to take it slowly this time. I suffered through a long darkness, coughed through stardust. I was a cell, two cells, a toe, an ankle, a leg. Now that I have breasts and buttocks, I have clothes (the engineers never leave anyone naked). But I think the delivery system is still wrong. I’m nowhere near you. I seem to be drifting in space, spinning closer to the sun. I fool myself. I tell myself this coronal mass, that flare heading straight for me is you. Or maybe it's just another design flaw that needs to be reported.


  1. Such longing and wonder. Love what you do, Nan.

  2. This is terrific, Nan. A really nice piece of sci-fi that might be a mini Black Mirror episode. Your language usage is beautiful


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