Some Shit About Retrocognition

You know that game people play where they sit somewhere in public and try to make up stories for people walking by? I tried to play it once.

“See that lady over there? Her mother had her as a teenager, I don’t think she even knew who the father was–they fucked at a rave or something. Anyway, she has half siblings who belong to the man who married her mother years later and raised her as his own. They’ve never treated her any differently, but she’s always felt different. The only way she knows how to fit in is to look the part on the outside, so she’s very fashion-conscious because she doesn’t want anyone to call her out on not being one of them.”

(This is apparently not how you’re supposed to play this game.)

Retrocognition. Quite possibly a curse.

The opposite of precognition, retrocognition is “backward knowing.” I can’t tell your future, but I do know that the day “it” happened, you were wearing a red shirt.

I haven’t always known what this was. I just knew things. It wasn’t until I was around 12 that it started to feel like a burden. At a weekly counselling appointment, the bitch told me it was called “hyper vigilance,” and I just needed to stop paying so much attention to people. I probably explained it badly or else she didn’t want to have me admitted, so she said it and I accepted it and that was my word for it. For a while.

Now before you get all excited about this shit, let me warn you: it’s normally useless shit. In 8th grade my cooking class teacher hated her first name, someone used to make fun of her for it somehow. No idea how, her first name was Vivian, but I just knew that. So did that shape her as a person? No idea. Maybe.

Also in 8th grade, my math teacher, Mr. Lens, was disappointed with his job. He loved children, they delighted him, but he really preferred younger children. He really wanted to be an elementary school teacher, but he was afraid of what other people would think if their child’s kindergarten teacher were a man. So he taught math to 8th graders while really wishing he were singing songs about the days of the week.

This weirdness droned on. The knowing.

I was well into “adulthood” by the time I stumbled across the word “retrocognition.” Seeing words like “psychic” appearing alongside it made me think it was probably bullshit. Then explanations of it only seem to talk about deja vu. I discounted retrocognition as my affliction at that point.

My first “knowing” from a physical place occurred when I was 21. (There may have been many, but I didn’t make a connection between that and my “knowing” about people until this one.) My husband and I were looking to buy a house, and partway through an entire day of visiting houses with our real estate agent, when we walked into one that looked completely unassuming from the outside. Shag carpet and turquoise walls met us inside, but something else met me. It felt like someone had cracked an egg and let it run down my back. Rape. I finally flipped shit in the basement and staggered out into the back yard, where I will never be able to forget the fire pit. We quit the house hunting early that day. The house has since been leveled and the empty land is still for sale, seven years later. This was when I realized that the knowing from places and the knowing of people were related. Upon further investigation, (and more reliable sources than random Google searches), I accepted retrocognition as the culprit.

My first accidental past life regression happened just a couple years ago. I was lying in bed, not asleep yet, when what I thought was a dream barged in and interrupted whatever I was thinking about. My dress was blue and there was straw on the floor. I sat at a wooden desk, writing a letter by candlelight. It was to my love, who I knew had dark hair, and he was at sea. He would never get the letter, I would never even try to send it, just like all the others, which I stashed in a drawer. I suspected he would never return.

The second happened about a year ago, when I was waiting in the car for my son to come out of school. All of a sudden, I remembered lace curtains. I was in a hurry and I knelt before a dark wooden chest. People were waiting for me outside, but I needed to grab something first. Before I opened the chest, I looked up out the window. The window was open and the lace curtains wafted in the wind that blew in dark storm clouds. I watched the tops of the leafless trees blow violently.

The third was a couple months ago. I was standing on the back porch watching a thunderstorm blow in over the mountains, and then I remembered another time when I did the exact same thing. The walls were red mud and I was weaving. I was quite pleased with the pale blue I had managed for the threads (which I now suspect was dyed with black beans). Children ran inside and back out, chasing and squealing. They were fine…for now. I walked to the doorless doorway and watched the clouds gather over the plains.

I can’t tell you how to do this shit. I can’t tell you what triggers it. Not every place or everyone gives me their story this way.

But hopefully this has done a better job of describing retrocognition than “having deja vu a lot.”



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