You know who I am. But perhaps you don’t know my name: Rose Old. I was unwanted at birth and thrown away, evidence best disposed of. If you consider that, bloodily new to the world, I was bound for a dusty grave and that I was saved only by a distracted boy and a stray dog, it’s a miracle that I lived an hour, let alone as long as I have.

Who’d have imagined I’d live to tell the tale, as it were? Fortune patted me on the head at an early age, but it wasn’t all walks and treats. We had a complicated relationship. What else do you know? Well, you know I’m alive now, unless I’m telling this story from beyond the grave. I’m Old but I’m not that old and I am not going to die in my story (unless I do it with the last full stop — that would be acceptable; after all, I haven’t finished yet and I can’t see the future any more clearly than you can). Rose Old, alive.

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