The Self Portrait

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He started by telling her what would happen after she died. She listened with rapture.

Then he moved backward in time, and discussed what would happen to her in life. Her husband, he told her, would be devoted to her. She would cheat on him only once. A deep anger, rooted in the percieved ease with which he could give himself to her so freely, along with her knowledge that his devotion blinded him from judgment or suspicion, would give her the justification she needed to invite another into her bed. Her childhood would be happy, she learnt, and a summer day when she was only seven, a day spent with her family in the countryside under blue sky, would be the most treasured of her memories. Next he declared that her father would die peacefully when she was twenty five, forever taking the family's two bitter secrets to his grave; his first wife had committed suicide, and this had been due to her madness. Neither secret would ever be discovered. Her neighbour Sarah would be her best friend from the moment they meet to their last meeting in old age – not once would they lie to each other. Finally, he told her, her favorite son, she would have three, would betray her by marrying a women she despised. Regardless, she would continue to love him.

Then he moved beyond her. He told her about the rules that governed the cosmos, the world, the vagaries of human nature, and the laws of the smallest particles. She learnt all that had happened, and all that would happen.

By the time she was born, she had forgotten everything she had been told.

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