"You have caused me a fair bit of trouble Herr Kolbe.” The voice of the young woman rang out through the otherwise empty office, prompting an understandably surprised Herr Kolbe to look up from the documents sprawled out on the beautifully carved mahogany desk. Despite the stern look over his round glasses, the young girl in front of him did not so much as glance away – something that men of better standing than her often failed to bring up the courage to.
“Well then enlighten me as to who is doing the enquiring. I can’t recall ever having seen you.” Herr Kolbe said as he folded his hands neatly in front of him and sat up straight to address the girl in front of him. He spoke the truth, she was too young to be the wife of one of his partners; all certainly too respectable for such a thing. Yet she spoke to him too confident to be one of their daughters, for if that were the case, she would have heard of him and know better than to do so.
“Ah, then you never will again.” She responded with a smile and a tilt of her head.
Her Kolbe laughed: a short, hoarse laugh that resounded through his office. It was more alike a bark, than genuine laughter, and one could wonder if one like Herr Kolbe even remembered what it was like to experience true joy. He was amused by her youthful bravery, nothing more.
“How are you so certain of that then, young lady?”
“Because I have never seen you, of course, Herr Kolbe.” She responded, her smile lowering and her hands loosening to fall beside her where they rested on the many folds and layers of her skirts.
“That does not mean that we cannot meet again, and besides, if we have never met, how would I have caused you personally such trouble that you accuse me of with such confidence – one I must say is rather unbefitting of your young age, and humility would certainly flatter your stature better.”
The smile came back in full on the girl’s face, and she lifted a hand to hide the sound of her chuckle; as if the Herr’s words had grazed past small bells like wind did past summer leaves.
“Oh must you amuse me so, I who knows the answers of your future like my past? Oh no Herr Kolbe, you are so certain now, yet you know nothing of what you will lose come the very next day. Nor do you know how troublesome it is for me to stand here and tell you, and I wouldn’t have if it did not hold importance.”
He did not know why he didn’t call out for his guards, who could deal with this girl in mere moments. She was insane, surely, babbling on about tomorrow as if it was yesterday – but she spoke her words with such confidence, and deep inside of him it stirred a strange curiosity as to why. In truth, her insanity didn’t speak to him, so much as it spoke to a sense of wonder he believed to be gone since childhood: yet here it was, whispering to him the possibility of magic. But such things were taboo in a mind such as Herr Kolbe’s who’d long outgrown superstitions and the supernatural alike.
The girl let him to his silence, as if a sign of goodwill.
“What,-” Herr Kolbe’s voice faltered for a second, shaking his head; her words were bugs crawling about in his head that wouldn’t let him speak, “What in the world are you speaking of? It is impossible for anyone to know the future.”
The logic he so relied on told him it couldn’t be true, much like the leader of a sect would preach that anything outside of it was false. But immediately the girl responded.
“On the contrary Herr Kolbe, there are quite a few of us to whom treading the past is like a blind man searching his way through an unfamiliar home. Oh where is your imagination? You surely don’t think that we all live our lives forwards?”
“Yes we do, never have I heard such nonsense, and frankly I don’t want to entertain it any longer.”
“It does not matter which way we go Herr Kolbe, my past has already happened, and so has yours. You must consider my sanity in this, and how difficult it is for me to walk through this conversation backwards. I would not have done this hadn’t you caused me such grief, but I wished to see your face. Worst of all, I cannot even tell you what it is that you have done! It is against the rules as much as it would be for me to go forward and you to go backwards. Surely we are separate, but that doesn’t mean that we do not exist. You have ruined my past as much as you ruined your own future – truly, it is only in moments of action that we of the future and past exist the same. But that is why you cannot believe it; for I see now, you are not a man of action at all. Not tomorrow, not in this moment, and I am sure that you won’t do anything yesterday either. No Herr Kolbe, you will sit and do nothing, but the future has already suffered for you! All that is left is for you to go through it as we have. So I wish you had a good yesterday Herr Kolbe; if only because it means that I will as well.”
The girl turned around, her skirts flowing behind her as she walked out of the door of the office, leaving Herr Kolbe speechless. In silence he wondered if what he had just heard was the ramblings of a mad child, which logic dictated to him that it had to be; or if perhaps there had been more to the encounter.
But whichever it was, what was there for him to do; act erratically on the words of a mad child? If she spoke the truth – which he believed more and more unlikely by the second, he would know soon enough. If she didn’t then he had worried for nothing.
So shortly after Herr Kolbe sank back into his chair, and would rather believe the encounter had been utter nonsense.
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