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Respawning: A short story

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SEPTEMBER 16, 2023

Respawning is a slow and agonizing process. First, your eyes will undergo something similar to mitosis, with all your arteries and veins and viscous eye goo converging in the center and then parting, each side still connected by the optic nerve. Your new body will form around the two infant eyes, starting with the arteries and veins of course, and then the nerves, and then the ligaments and whatever other stringy materials that are used to hold you together. You know how knitting and biology work; thread is the basis of almost everything. When the new you is formed, you will carefully snip the two optic nerves still forming a bridge between the new and old you.

And then you (the old you) will run for your next appointment with your school counselor, because otherwise you won’t be placed in the ceramics class next year with your new friends with hot pink hair. The new you won’t worry about this appointment. They won’t drink apple juice with your new friends with hot pink hair like you will next week. 

Instead, they’ll finish the sudoku puzzle you were working on earlier and draw out that masterpiece you outlined on the bottom of a Ruby’s Diner paper car but never finished. They won’t ever grow any older, and they’ll find this poetic, since they are in a poetic teen state of mind. 

The old you will shed this poetic teen state of mind in a week, because your new friends with hot pink hair won’t have time for poetry. They won’t have time for much except trying different flavors of bubblegum and doing each other’s makeup and kissing each other’s lips when no one is looking. You (the old you) will be too high to find this poetic, and by the time you’re done with being high, you’ll be too old for poetry at all because you’ll be 22 and applying for your first real job as a photographer, writer and editor for a biology magazine. You’ll feel a slight shiver in your hand as you mark your calendar with the date of interview, because you’ll be able to tell you’re due to respawn, and you’ll honestly think that one new you is enough. 

You’ll be 22 and applying for a job and the new you will still be 15 and walking along the aisles of Sephora, trying to find the lip gloss that feels and tastes the closest to donut glaze. The new you will visit you sometimes, still with that permed mullet that will be out of style by now, and you’ll tell them to leave you alone because you’re too busy brushing up on theories and organisms. The truth is, you’ll be jealous of the new you, because being 15 is arguably more fun than being 22. 15-year-olds don’t have to deal with the heartbreak of losing the heart of a hot pink-haired girl. 

The truth is, you’ll be jealous of the new you, because being 15 is arguably more fun than being 22.

When the day of your interview arrives, you’ll get through it very quickly and pull out sunglasses in the middle of it, even though that’s probably rude because you’re indoors. You’ll be able to feel your eyes pulsing slightly, pooling at the edge of their bulbs. When you get home, you’ll get out an ice pack and lie on the hammock on your roof, waiting for your second new body to form. You’ll feel icky but pleased knowing that your 22-year-old mindset will be preserved forever. 

When the second new you is created, you won’t be able to look them in the eye because it’s a little awkward to actually talk to yourself. You’ll tell them they can take the guest room because you’ll be moving out soon anyway. You’ll have a feeling the interview went well and that you’ll be asked to move a few hours north to Sacramento to study a new species of pigeon. You’ll be about to go to sleep when the original new you, 15-year-old you, will ring your doorbell, arm in arm with the hot pink-haired girl whose heart you lost. She’ll be 22, just like you.

“She’s gonna sell me donut glaze lip gloss, but I can’t pay with cash. Can I use your credit card? Mom’s at work,”  the original old you will say. 

You’ll close your eyes very hard and turn straight to the hot pink-haired girl, asking why she’s there. 

“Your spawn wanted a ride,” she’ll say. “You were nice, you know. I think we would’ve gotten along at 15.”

“We did. I changed classes just to be with you,” you’ll say. 

You’ll be too fed up to continue a conversation with the girl who took you for granted, so you’ll go to the guest room and get the second new you to talk to her. Then you’ll give the original new you your credit card info written on a post-it and shut the door, with an odd desire to dye your hair red.

Contact Mia Soumbasakis at 


SEPTEMBER 16, 2023