Previously: After Katrina is hit by a car, Peter is torn, blaming himself for her accident and the fight which prompted her to run into the street. His guilt is compounded by Katrina’s mother’s reaction to her daughter’s horrid condition. Siting in a empty waiting room, Peter is confronted by an odd, old woman who blows a dust into his face which knocks him unconscious.
Katrina had the odd sensation of floating in a warm, black ocean. “Hello,” she called. Her voice echoed back to her in intermittent waves.
She hugged her arms close to her chest and sat, at least, she felt like she was sitting, though there was really nothing to sit on except darkness.
A pixel of light emerged above her. The point grew, rushing toward her like a meteor. Covering her eyes with her arm, Katrina screamed, and tried to dodge the object. Stopping just before her, the light stretched, into a humanoid form, and then the light was replaced with flesh. An old woman floated before her.
“Who are you?” Katrina asked
“I am you,” the lady replied enigmatically.
“All time is a continuum, interdependent from other times, yet sustained by the other times.” The old woman smiled at Katrina’s puzzled expression. “Allow me to clarify. I am you when you are old, but I exist because you exist. You and I have existed many times before, in other times.”
“To put it in terms the human mind can comprehend.”
Katrina frowned. “I don’t believe in reincarnation.”
“Belief is not essential.” The old woman reached her withered hand out to Katrina. “I am here to warn you. For many lives you and Peter have tried to make your love work, but in each life you have failed.” The old woman tightened her grip on Katrina’s shoulder. “Your time in this present life is running short.”
“I’m going to die.”
“You have already died. You have died dozens of times before this.”
“Then how do you exist?”
“I may not exist much longer, for in every life you have died young. My existence is dependent upon your survival.”
Katrina shook her head, ‘But I’m already dead.”
“There’s a way to stop it.”
“All time is a continuum. You must stop your death in one of your lives.”
“I don’t understand…”
“I have already sent Peter into play. You must relive your lives…you must make it right…before both of us are just memories…” The lady faded into the blackness.
“Wait!” As Katrina screamed a strange room materialized around her. Her scream echoed across the tile. Marble columns rose around her, Corinthian entablatures jutting out before the ceiling. Katrina looked down at her naked body to find herself half submerged in a large pool of water. Several maids, draped in togas, stood around her.
A momentary disorientation swept over her, and then was lost. This was her life; she was a Roman general’s daughter. Her name was Claudia Minor, the younger daughter of the general. A maid wrapped a towel around her. They helped her to dress, and then perfumed her body with a thick grease. The odorous oil felt thick against her skin.
Katrina took the time to collect her thoughts. Concentrating, she found that she could conjure the knowledge of her former self. She was a Vestal Virgin—a temple keeper of the goddess Vesta. She was about to stand trial for impurity.
A messenger came to her room, accompanied by a maid. “They’re awaiting you for the trial.”
Katrina nodded and followed the maids down the stone stairs and into the street. Mobs lined the street , awaiting her trial. The setting sun and the anger of the masses set the stone streets ablaze. She felt the heat rising of the rocks and onto her sandal-clad feet. The procession led her through the mob and to the beach.
Knowing washed over her: for the trial she would have to carry water in a sieve. If she were pure and honest, Vesta would be with her and hold the water in the sieve. At the shore, she was handed the sieve and instructed to collect water and carry it to a designated spot on the beach.
Katrina knelt next to the water, and let the salty waves wash over her. The water lapped across her arms. The fabric of her gown clung to her arms, feeling sticky on the oil on her arms. A broad smile swept over Katrina’s face. The oil on her arms was for the sieve; if she smeared the sieve with oil and walked carefully, the water would not pass through. It was a trick of the sisterhood; sometimes it worked, other times it didn’t.
Katrina forced her sleeves up, rubbing her hands across her flesh to collect the grease on her palms. As she dipped the sieve, she rubbed her palms across the mesh to clog it. Katrina collected the water. She turned to face the crowd and rose to her feet ceremoniously. She took her first step. The water sloshed back and forth but remained in the sieve. Each jarring step, loosened the oil, and the heated weakened it. A few drops fell onto the sand.
Katrina reached the designated spot. The crowd erupted, mesmerized by the miraculous feat. A man rushed forth, grabbing the sieve, “It’s oiled,” he shouted over the chaos.
Katrina jerked back, as soldiers rushed upon her. A soldier clasped her arm, and then forced her to her knees in the scorching sand. “She will be burned tomorrow!” The man yelled.
Katrina looked into the face of the soldier who held her down; it was Peter.