This one instant, this single moment in time, holds everything. Every event. Every decision. Every twist of fate that has resulted in her being right here. Right now.

Unlike some who meditate to seek nothingness, she has chosen a path that teaches the virtue of perfect awareness. Of everything.

She is about to begin the kata that will transport her one minute and twelve seconds into the future. She sees that future, one minute and twelve seconds hence; and she sees most of the other potential futures that may result from the form she is about to execute.

Most, but not all.

She also sees the past.

The little girl, alone in the playground. Swinging high into the twilit sky. She sees the rumpled, shambly man that walks out of the shadow of an ancient oak, its early-autumn leaves blowing between them; the girl and the stranger.

She is there (because then is now, and she is the little girl) as the stranger walks over to stand just beyond the arc of her sneakers. She hears the gravel churn as she comes to an abrupt, foot-dragging stop. She wonders if she should scream. Or run.

She does neither, and to this day she cannot say why because at ten years old, and a very bright ten at that, she knew what she should have done.

Not a sound. Even the breeze, so recently sweeping leaves across the playground, has gone silent.

“Do you want to see some magic?” He is big, well over six feet, but his voice is not the deep rumble she expects; more a smooth, honeyed tenor. Not slurred, not mumbled; also a surprise. He is disheveled in the extreme way that comes from living, literally, in one’s clothes.

“No. I don’t.” is all she can whisper. Maybe there is already some sort of magic at work, holding her here while every single muscle in her body screams RUN.

Then, in what seems (seemed) like slow motion he takes his hands from the pockets of his long coat and brings them together before him - the image of someone who has caught a firefly.

Or of one who holds a small and secret treasure.

He stares at his cupped hands for what seems like minutes, as if trying to remember what it is he’s holding. Then, without a word, or even a change of his quizzical expression, he slowly opens them up again.

At first she has to shut fast her eyes against the blinding intensity of the pure, emerald light that is streaming from between his cupped palms. In the years since then she has seen, and even used, green lasers and that is the closest thing she can think of to describe what she sees. But a laser doesn’t radiate its light in all directions at once. And no matter what it is it can’t float in the air, tracing lazy circles and figure-eights around the man who called it into existence.

She finds that she can look at it. She can see the pinpoint at its center, so bright that the pure greenness of it appears to be perfect white. A white that doesn’t exist here.

Then, still in silence, the light goes back to the man, who catches it just like the firefly she had first imagined. And it’s gone.

He doesn’t even look up at her as he walks away. Just stares at his hands, wondering - it seems - if the magic is still in there.

She is here, now, about to work through this kata because of that night. Because she knows it was real.

She knows it when, at first, her family laughs at her.

She know it when they begin to worry for her.

She knows it as she spends every waking hour learning all that she can learn about the world’s esoteric traditions.

She knows it when Calvin finds her and tells her that it really had happened.

And she knows it when she agrees to work for him. To give up everything - her family, her friends, even her name - in order to make herself into someone who can hunt the magic that she knows is real.

Hunt it.

Find it.

And stop it.