Permutations of the Soul by Melanie Rees


Melanie Rees

Yesterday the number of millionaires peaked across the nation. The chance of the average person achieving everything they ever dreamed of was… well, it was very high. No doubt, the Fortune Teller knew the exact probability. But the man about to interview me wasn’t a millionaire. His fortune was immeasurable, possibly second only to the man who invented the Fortune Teller himself. So much hinged on first impressions. Normally I would have stressed over such things, but not now. Now there was no need.

I tapped the screen of my Fortuband. The screen flickered blue, highlighting the time: twenty-five minutes to go. The wristband came with clocks now. And GPS. And camera. And television. No doubt, the people who made these applications were millionaires too.

Shade from the huge domed office block behind me flickered across the screen as the midday sun peaked behind it.

“Should I arrive at the interview early,” I typed into my Fortuband.

The Fortune Teller’s response flickered back within seconds. Based on the employer’s hiring record, the probability of reaching your Lifestination is higher if you arrive early.

I readjusted my royal blue skirt and perfectly pleated shirt. My Fortuband had computed it was the best choice for this particular employer. I tapped my Fortuband again: twenty-three minutes. I turned to the monstrosity towering behind me. It was an odd choice, but when I’d scrolled through the employment pages my Fortuband suggested a high probability of achieving my future goals with this job. I didn’t even like mathematics or computers and my knowledge of technology was slim. Yet here I was.

“Nylie!” a male voice sang out behind me. “Nylie!”

I turned. He was older, but those familiar dark brown eyes were the same as I remembered them. “Drake, is that you?”

He ran; hugged me. His comforting embrace lasted longer than it should; his nose cooled my cheek. Whether it was him hanging on longer or me, I didn’t know.

“How long’s it been, Nylie?” he asked, eventually pulling away.

I shrugged. Something in my voice couldn’t let me speak even though I knew exactly how long.

I often wondered what choices I would have had to make to run into him again. Would I have to lurk around bookstores and galleries? I’d always been too scared to plug in a Lifestination for meeting him again. What if the Fortune Teller told me the probability was low. And yet here he was, fourteen years later, looking the same as he always had. The only differences were a few grey hairs peeking through his fringe and goatee, which suited him.

“He-llo” I stumbled on the word. I took a deep breath and wiped a sweaty palm on my skirt. “Do you work here?” I asked, recomposing myself. What was the chance he was working where I possibly could be? Was this what my Fortuband had computed all along?

“Here?” Drake snorted with derision. “Heavens no! Just doing an interview for the Times on how they’re getting people’s hopes up. Please don’t tell me you’re a believer.”

My eyes automatically went to my Fortuband.

His followed. “Guess everyone gets curious at some point.” He looked up from my wrist. “I have a few spare minutes. Do you want to get a coffee?”

“I have an interview in twenty minutes,” I said to Drake, while typing at the same time. It had become automatic now and I didn’t really notice I was typing until Drake sighed. I glanced down for the response, trying to make it seem like I wasn’t looking at it.

Probability of reaching chosen Lifestination is highest if you attend the interview early.

Why? Why would it say that? I’d trusted all of its predications and suggestions to date, but now…

Drake clasped my wrist, covering the screen. “Really? Don’t you get sick of living for your Lifestination rather than living for the moment?”

“No. Don’t you get sick of making life altering choices without guidance?” There was confidence and cockiness in my voice but doubt lingered in my throat as if it were choking me. I’d never had reason to question my Fortuband. It had secured a good job and helped me pick a great investment property.

“Maybe I could call you afterwards?” I asked.

“Sure.” The pain in his voice hit me in the chest. He handed over a business card. “Assuming your gadget lets you call.” The tone of his voice felt like the air had been sucked from him. I wanted to explain.

“It gives me direction. I’m now confident where I’m going.”

“And where is that? What is this fabulous Lifestination you’re basing all your decisions on?”

“I can’t… It’s silly. And personal.”

“Fair enough. I guess I might speak to you later.” He turned on his heel and left.

A gasp escaped me as he walked away. This couldn’t be right.

“Should I run after him?” I typed.

The probability of reaching your Lifestination is best if you go to the interview early.

Maybe I had the wrong Lifestination. They always said to be specific and I was the queen of vague. I could reprogram it.

I typed a new destination. “Be happily married to Drake in two years’ time.”

The best probability of reaching your Lifestination is by attending the interview early.

“’Tell the future’. My sweet arse cheeks you do.” I wanted to hurl it away, but then what. Wander aimlessly forever not knowing what might happen.

It was okay. The Fortune Teller knew. It knew it would be okay. I tried to reassure myself, as Drake’s figure disappeared around the corner at the end of the street.


“So any mathematical or computer experience?” asked the interviewer as he readjusted his striped navy blue tie.

I looked down at my PBS band. “Should I lie?” I typed.

Probability of reaching Lifestination is best if you don’t.

I shook my head.

“I guess you’re wondering how accurate it is right now, sending you to an interview for which you have no experience?” he asked.

“You have no idea.” How could it let Drake go? Sure, I could call, but the look on his face when I’d rejected him told me it was unlikely he’d forgive me. That was if he’d even given me a correct phone number.

“Are you okay, Nylie?” the interviewer asked.

“Yes. I normally believe, I’m just a bit…”

“Lost?” he offered.

I shrugged. “Perhaps.”

“I never feel lost because I always know where I’m headed and how to get there. No matter how painful the road.”

“What was your Lifestination?” I asked.

“Six figure income and smoking hot wife by the time I was

thirty. Guess what?”

“You achieved your goal.”

He clasped his hands together. “The probability was high. Mind you, I had to put in the effort. I completed three degrees, a postdoctoral, and killed a guy.” He smiled with a fleeting twitch of his lips. “I’m joking of course.”

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