Ethan West could not accept what his brother was telling him.
"Somewhere, sometime, somehow," Ethan said, "Doris and I are meant to live happily ever after. I'll keep searching until I find it."
Riley West sighed. He reloaded the gun. And he shot his brother dead.
Ethan's oversoul spoke to him in the Great Beyond, using not-words to express not-feelings.
"Where to next?" Ethan replied.
The year was 1875. Doris was a schoolteacher. They fell in love. She died one winter from pneumonia.
Why Ethan remembered each of his past lives he could not say. Another man might've been driven mad by the accumulated grief inherent in such knowledge. Ethan grew only more determined.
Doris had been his mother, his daughter, his sister. But more often than not, she played the part of lover. In every instance, tragedy struck.
Somewhere in Ethan West's brain, God had installed a time machine. Merely through concentration, Ethan could travel right back to his brother in the present. He did so again.
"Fate is sending you a message, Ethan. It was not meant to be."
"Again," Ethan commanded.
Riley shot him in the heart.
This resurrection proved different in its circumstances. Ethan did not meet Doris until they were both in their fifties and he was hired to kill her. Only morbid curiosity prevented his immediate departure.
She rented an apartment high in the clouds, this Doris. The year was 2063. Doris had become a crusading reporter. Many contracts stood upon her life. Ethan accepted the most lucrative. He took Doris to lunch.
"I believe it was destiny for us to meet."
Doris stared at him and said nothing.
"I have a gun pointed at you beneath the table."
Doris grinned. "I think I love you," she said.
Ethan grew startled. "How? Why? We just met!"
"No, we didn't," Doris said.
"I remember," Doris said. "All of our failed attempts. I remember falling in love with you all over time."
"Have you been... searching?"
"And in your head..."
"...a time machine," Doris concluded.
"Then this is it! This is the right lifetime. This is the moment we get it right!"
The high-rise began to shake.
"I don't care if it's an alien invasion," Ethan said. "We'll never be parted again."
It wasn't an earthquake. Not a small one, anyway. It was the end of the world.
"Not now!" Ethan said. "It isn't fair!"
"Wait," Doris said. "We can still escape. We can go anywhere, anytime..."
"But where?" Ethan said. "Where can we go to be happy?"
There was only one house in all the world. There were only two people. Ethan and Doris were their names. No one else yet existed. Not even Adam and Eve. The world was still a garden. Problems hadn't been invented yet. That suited the lovers just fine.