Once I saw myself. Not the me that I see when I look in a mirror or a glass or the surface of a deactivated fenestrated wall, but the older me. With horns the size and shape of wheels and hair that hadn't seen a brush in sweeps, in a long green dress and with haunted eyes. He had told me not to talk to her. Neither did he, or so he said, so I should follow his example unless I wanted more privileges revoked. So I hid behind an umbrella stand as she walked down the hall, camouflaged by green against green against even more green, watching myself. Time was a tricky thing. He told me that time-travelers avoid their past and future selves not because it is dangerous, but because it makes for very awkward encounters. Which, now that I think about it, was hypocritical.
He never said they always avoid themselves. Or their children. If you could call him that.
But when I saw myself that time, I didn't know. I just wanted to catch a glimpse of the future through the cracks in the universe and found myself at the right place and the right time. Tiny body wedged between the immaculate green wallpaper and the leather-bound green cylinder full of green canes and green umbrellas. I made believe that it was a jungle where I was stalking my prey.
She was regal and tall, elegant in her long black-and-green silk dress and slippers. The fact that she still carried the wands that kept my hair in place made me smile, the fact that the back of her hair had been so roughly chopped off less so. But with horns that big, I couldn't blame her. I touched my own set, smaller than half that impressive size. Were they really going to get that big? And was I really going to continue using that red makeup? I thought of the little box on my dresser. That had been a gift from him, along with the green clothes, to make me "presentable". If I didn't look presentable, he'd take things away. This was a rule. It is a rule. Looking at that other me, it was still a rule in the future.
I held my breath as she passed by. Being found out would certainly mean getting in trouble with him, and that was the last thing I wanted. Timeless, dustless air, crackling with majyyks filled my lungs and I nearly coughed. It was only thanks to pinching my leg so hard that rust-red blood trickled down to the carpet that I was able to stay quiet, wincing.
She was close now. I could see her eyes clearly, redder than mine and much, much older. If I stared into them long enough, what could I have seen? His abuses and smug tales? The far-off lands and times she had visited and destroyed? The lives of trolls that she had ended and ruined? They were such ancient eyes. Hundreds of sweeps had danced before them and wasted away. How long would I have to live the life she had reached at that point? How long would it be before she met her inevitable end? How old would her eyes be by that time?
She knew, of course. I don't know what I was doing, hiding there from myself. She obviously knew I was there, when I thought about it for more than a second- after all, she had hid there and watched herself pass so many sweeps ago. She was me, with all the answers to the questions in my present mind. I don't know why I didn't just jump out and ask her then.
I guess I didn't want to know. Not everyone is him. Not everyone wants to talk to their future so often.