She closed her eyes, found herself in her grandmother’s garden, between the towering tiger lilies, orange and black, and the peeling green slats of the back fence, the pale blue sky, the telephone wires sharp against the branches and wisped clouds, distant clicks and hushes coming from somewhere she would never find, and let herself slip deeper into that, so tiny and large, holding the dirt against her body, dribbling it awkwardly, scared of what she was doing, thinking about who she was and how she was there. She liked that, to suddenly think like that, like she wasn’t something else, and then thinking that she should laugh and almost drowning in that.
Dee lay in the dark, watching Apollo chase a vole, giant and puffed, at the edge of the bed, batting it hard and then biting, the cracking squish of the skull like broken glass. She watched him sitting straight up in the corner, chewing his vole, breathing out the bottom part of his jaw. She tried to get off the bed and couldn’t and fought against the muffled paralysis. She was going backward. She couldn’t see properly. The lights were off. There was something turned the wrong way. She hated being stuck, unable to move, to even see, and grunted and spat and pulled herself out of the dream. “Jesus fuck.”
She moved her arm up and twisted onto her back, raising her other arm, both of them now straight above her. She wanted her kid-self back, exposed, naked against the rocks, in the long cold light, and so stripped and edged to the shore, putting her hand in as she planned her brief plunge off the slippery green ledge, reaching out with her foot to shove the smaller ice out and dive in. And so that was what she did, into the cold and dark, panicked and frozen, and stood there dripping, like the icebergs, ready to drop off shards, almost happy with herself for a moment. She was awake now. She was almost sure of that.
“I pretended to sleep on the bus when I was a kid. I wanted to see where the bus went. I always got off at the same stop and I didn’t know where it went. I wanted to know where it went. And so I opened my eyes like, ‘Oh, no, I missed it. What do I do now?’ And there wasn’t anything. It was all the same, streets and stores and apartments. I stared out the window as we went north. And then it was only apartment buildings, wide avenues and then empty fields. I did the same thing on the subway. I went to the end of the line and collected a transfer from every station.” He stared into the water as if he could see his small hands clutching bits of colored paper.
“Everyone is exceptional in one thing.”
“Only idiots believe something like that.”
“Yeah, well, I can eat a whole bag of cookies like it was nothing.” “I tell myself it’s going to be just two or three. I eat those and then another. And then the row, the entire row, and I put the bag back. I sit down for like a minute, less than that, and go back and eat another row. It’s half gone then. It seems right to leave it like that. It’s supposed to be just another row because there’s supposed to be another row after that. And there isn’t. I’ve eaten them all.”