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I was three years old.

“How do you know me?” I ask the strange lady.

“I always have,” she replies.

“Do I know you?”

“You always have.”

“So, do I go with you?”

“You always do.”

I reach to the photo in my pocket, the one that I found on the ground on the subway. As we walk, I take it out. It had changed. The lady with me had changed from my mother to this strange lady.

“Do you know this photo?” I ask. I hold it out to her.

She snatches it from me. “I always have.”

“So, what do you do for a living?”

“What I always have done.”

We walk towards a van.

“Is that your van?” I ask.

“It always has been.” She clicks the car open.

“What’s going on?”

“You always say that.”

“I do?”

“Yes, always.”

We get in the van.

“Why are there all these things in the trunk?” I ask.

“They’ve always been there.”

She puts one of the gas masks on me.

“And you always cover your ears. Always.”

I cover my ears. I see a nuke go off about 50 miles away.

“And I always die,” she says. “But never this time.”