By the river I met my future self

No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man. — Heraclitus (6th Century B.C.)

Walking along the Aare river

I stop to see the water flow

And think of Heraclitus’ dictum

Ahead of me I spot a woman

Wait, is that me?

Same stride, same demeanour

The hair now entirely white

Something new, a minor limp in the hip

How did that happen? I wonder

Better take the calcium pills, I make a mental note

I run after her, or shall I say, I run after me?

She slowly turns her head, the veins in her temple have grown thicker

Our eyes lock

First the surprise

Are you a memory? She seems to ask

Can this be? The same I, two different times?

And then, the mutual recognition

We embrace, she and I are one

A familiar scent envelopes us, Magie noire de Lancôme

She notices my deep inhale

“I’ve worn it since I was 17, a gift from my father,” we say, in unison

I tried to change perfume a few times, it always smelt like treason

And then fear overtakes me

She is alone, is he forever gone? I want to know

“Count on it, I will be gone before you, women live longer than men, it’s a fact,”

His words like daggers, a life sentence of sorts

Are my sisters well? And the children?

The questions crowd in my mouth, rush to find their way out

But she resumes her path

Hold on, please, I plead, let me ask you

I point to a toddler a few steps ahead of her

Tell me what the future holds

She draws a finger to her lips, and smiles

Aged, still beautiful, more serene

“No spoiler,” she seems to say, and tenderly points upstream

She moves on, into my future

I’m pleased to see her go

Note: I am told Heraclitus’ exact quote reads On those stepping into rivers staying the same other and other waters flow.

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