Mirror

Sheilegh had found her. She knew her large nose and thick black eyebrows. She crossed the pond and spoke to the younger woman.

“I’m you from the future! I’m here to save your life!” Sheilegh said.

The younger woman looked at her expectedly. She had to say something good.

“You have ADHD. You can’t change it.”

“… Is that it?”

“No. There’s more.”

Why was she so nonplussed? Sheilegh tried again.

“You can learn any language. You learned English.”

“Interesting.”

“Knowing this will encourage you to learn.”

“How are you going to save my life though?”

“I don’t know. I suppose I thought you’d be impressed that I had managed to create a working time machine. I needed an opening line.”

“I am impressed. I have dreamed of creating a time machine. As I’m sure you know. But you don’t seem to have anything to say.”

Sheilegh looked around. Nobody seemed to take any notice of them. A gaggle of ducks were arguing. The air was icy.

“Can we go to your place?” Sheilegh asked her younger self, “…I don’t want to mess things up.”

They walked.

“I’m sure the timeline is already distinct from your own original,” the young one said, “But you know that. You’re me.”

“I never could invent a forwards time machine.”

“And even if you could, by coming back you’ve altered your own timeline forever.”

“Yes. It’s not like in fiction. No time loops for me. I mean us. I mean… Whatever. We don’t get to conveniently end where we started.”

“You got anywhere to stay?”

“I was hoping-”

“-that you could move in with me.”

“Yes. I can easily earn money using historical stock market data.”

“And then what?”

“Well there are a few avoidable incidents that I’ll alert you to so they no longer cause lifelong health problems.”

They had reached the younger Sheilegh’s apartment door.

“That’s nice.”

“You know I half expect your apartment to be filled with copies of us. One hypothetical danger of time travel.”

“Yes. What is the probability that you would come back only once?”

“And given that I came back, what were the chances that I’d come back to this universe?”

“You don’t know how to end this dialogue do you?”

“This is clearly fiction, as it could not be real within the parameters established within it.”

“That’s not what a real person would say.”

And then, in a universe-spanning spasm of contrivance, everything exploded.

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