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“I wish we had done everything together,” Gene said wistfully. She fell to her knees, overcome by the feeling she had unleashed something.

Alice knelt down and placed her forehead on Gene’s. She ran her fingers through Gene’s hair, then brought her hands to rest on Gene’s shoulders.

“What happens next?” Alice asked.

“I don’t know.”

“What do you want?”

Gene looked up at Lucifer and saw countless pathways leading toward chaos. Startled, she began to see the faces of every person she had encountered in life, each one a snapshot in space and time. Gene turned to find Alice had become a smear along their path from the hospital—something like a caterpillar.

“I want a choice!” cried Gene.

“How will you choose?”

“I will use my own mind.”

“Do you think you know yourself well enough?”

“Yes.”

“How about others?”

“I think so.”

“Then don’t you already know what you will choose?”

Gene turned the question over in her mind. How could she know what choices she would make before thinking them through?

“Nobody does. Even if Laplace’s Demon were real,” she paused, trembling a little. “Even if I were the demon, and I knew the inner workings of my own mind, I couldn’t predict what choices I would make. I couldn’t even predict if or when I would make a choice.”

Alice smiled. “Then, I think, you are ready.”

The caterpillar seemed to vaporize. Alice took Gene’s hands and led her back down the staircase. They collected their bags and stepped back into the morning light.

“Do you remember that Mary Oliver poem you read to me?” Alice asked with a knowing smile.

“Of course.”

“Then tell me, what is it you plan to do?”


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