The story told from the past has Louise telling us of her experiences with the Heptapods. The Heptapods are an alien race who landed on Earth to observe our culture, and to give us some sort of "gift". Louise was brought in to try to learn and understand their language, and it is discovered by her that their language is the gift. The Heptapods don't perceive time in the same way that we do. Rather than looking at time as a past, present, and future, the Heptapods view time as a flat circle of sorts. They are capable of viewing their past and futures simultaneously, and Louise, by learning their language, is capable of viewing time in this same manner.