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There were a few references I wanted the future-Frank to work into this conversation but I couldn’t squeeze them in, in this draft anyway. Both of them would be things present-Frank wouldn’t ‘get’, at least right away, which is part of why I want them to be there, hehe. The two separate lines of questioning already seem to overload this dialogue, though…. I might want to serialize them instead.

“You’re me,” I said.

The other tiger shook his head. “Not really,” he said. He spoke with a bit of an accent, kind of European-flavored. “I’m not really the same person inside at all.”

I put aside my thoughts of how English might be changed in the future. “What?” I said. I realized my future self was a lot thinner than I was now. “What happened? Is Ralph with you?”

He looked kind of pained at the mention of Ralph’s name, then shook his head again. “It’s been over a hundred fifty years,” he said, “since he left us…”

I wasn’t sure what to react to first.

“He breaks up with us?”

My future self shook his head again.

“A hundred fifty years, really?”

“Not 150 exactly,” he said, “but close enough. Not dying’s a trick we picked up from the future.”

“If we don’t die, and we don’t break up, then what happened to Ralph?” I was having trouble speaking straight.

“I don’t know,” he said. “And, I know it’s hard for you to understand, but I haven’t been thinking about it.”

I wanted to start yelling at him, but I knew it’d just come off as a childish tantrum. Instead, I changed the subject.

“Why’d you come here?” I said.

“Just to bring you a message,” he said. “To save you after you’ve lost everything. So someday you can become me—to keep from becoming me.”

I didn’t understand.

He handed me another phone. “You’ll know when you need it,” he said. “Use the date to unlock it.”

I didn’t understand.

He left.

I sat down on the bed.