“And what I’m telling you is that you can’t possibly see the future! It’s impossible!”
“Ah, but that is the beauty of it,” Maddie said, her voice airy and vacant. Her eyes glowed slightly in the candlelight. “It is not seeing the future, after all.”
Maddie Grimm, a.k.a. Mademoiselle Maddie (”Fortunes told! Futures seen! Predictions made! Ask about the 2-for-1 special!”), was on one of her rare ventures outside her sanctuary, the rickety shack at the edge of town that had looked like it would collapse within the week for the past eighteen years. It was nearing midnight, and the only people in the Lucky Pepper were her and Pepper, who had long since gotten used to Maddie’s occasional midnight snack runs.
Pepper cracked an egg into a frying pan, perhaps a little more forcefully than necessary. “Oh, it’s not, is it?” she asked. “What is it, then? And drop the act, would you? It’s been a long day.”
Maddie giggled, which sounded ethereal even when she wasn’t putting on the persona she used for customers. “Sorry, Pepper. Think about it like this.” She picked up the spoon in front of her and held it up to eye level. “Imagine you’re small enough to fit in the bowl of this spoon.”
“One, that’s absurd, and two, I can’t look at what you’re doing right now. I’m cooking your omelette, as you may or may not remember.”
“That’s why I said ‘imagine.’” Maddie stuck out her tongue. “Anyway, if you were small enough to stand in the bowl, you’d only really be able to see the bowl around you. If you were really small, you wouldn’t even be able to see out to the handle. You might say that seeing anything past the bowl would be impossible.”
“Uh-huh.” Pepper added a splash of milk into the pan. If you were looking specifically for it, you might have been able to catch a hint of a smile as Pepper listened to the sizzling.
“But us, we’re big enough that we can see the whole thing at once. Same thing with ‘seeing’ the future. It’s more that I’m changing my perspective so that I can take in everything at once.”
“That’s not any less absurd. You know that, right? What about free will? I could choose to, say…” Pepper glanced around the kitchen. “I could choose to suddenly add mushrooms to this omelette, and that would change the immediate future. Not least of all because I know you hate mushrooms,” she added with a smirk.
“Of course you have free will,” Maddie said. “Everyone does. But the thing about ‘seeing’ the future like that is… well… it’s hard to explain.”
“I bet it is.”
“You’re still thinking of the future and the present as cause and effect. But in reality, when you back up far enough, it all just… is. The decisions you made and the outcomes of those decisions are all there for the seeing. The future is what it is because of what you did, and because you did what you did, the future is what it is. It wouldn’t be that future if you didn’t make your choices.”
With a grunt, Pepper slid a plate down the bar towards Maddie. It stopped right in front of her. “Sounds to me like you just made that up.” Pepper said, rinsing her hands in the sink.
Maddie giggled and started eating.