Deeper Into the Ever

Wake up. A voice, not mine. In my dream, this dream of snow and ice and cold? Wake up. Not a dream. “Wake up,” the voice says, and so I do, letting my head break through the surface of my sleep, just barely, just enough. It is a struggle to open my eyes, and so I give up and leave them shut. “Take your time,” the voice—a man’s voice—tells me, and I couldn’t argue if I wanted to. I’ve never been so exhausted before. My every bone aches, every breath feels like fire in my lungs. “…water…” I croak, not…

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The Secret Architectures of Spiders

Hannah is sucking on a Blow Pop as we drive. She is scrolling through my iPhone, looking at my music. “Don’t you have anything from this century in here?” she asks. “Don’t give me any grief,” I say. “You’re the same age I am.” “Maybe, but my musical education didn’t stop in 1987.” She finally picks something, and The Boomtown Rats start playing from the car speakers. “I do listen to new music, you know,” I say. “It’s just new music that sounds like old music.” The road is all curves here, in the hills along the California and Nevada…

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An Unsettled Cloudiness

“What am I looking at?” Tina asks. “Look closer,” Rivi says. We are all sitting at my kitchen table. Tina peers at the screen on the back of Rivi’s camera, staring at the picture there, a photo of Rivi’s bedroom from yesterday at three in the morning. “I don’t see anything,” Tina says. Rivi gets up from her chair and comes around behind Tina. She points her finger at a spot on the screen, and I know what it is she’s looking at: a blur in the flash-blown photo, a smear in the air, hovering directly over the foot of…

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Whiteout

I am in the falling snow. Behind me, the door in the shed hangs open, and I can see the workbench, and the cans of paint on the floor, and the dusty window in the wall. Through the glass, the sun shines brightly, and the sky is cloudless and blue. On this side of the threshold, the snow drops from heavy gray clouds, falling onto my head and shoulders. It spills through the open doorway, and makes a small ridge just inside the shed. A mist forms along the door’s frame, where the cold air from here slides against the…

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At the Edge of the Continent

“I should take a trip,” Hannah is saying. “Someplace far away. Darjeeling, maybe. Someplace where the air is spicy.” We are walking outside the zoo, and the air is not spicy here. It smells of eucalyptus and salt air. “I want to be in one of those hotels that you see in the movies,” she continues. “Old wood on the walls and a balcony overlooking a marketplace.” “How about Fresno?” I ask. “Fresno is exotic.” “Fresno is an armpit,” she says. “Don’t be a putz.” She has work this morning, and so we are here walking in the dawn, the…

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The Blood and the Smoke

“There’s a ghost living in my apartment,” Rivi says. “I woke up last night and she was in bed with me.” We are having lunch in Chinatown, dumplings and roasted duck. Tina was supposed to join us, but she texted us to say she was on a mission and wouldn’t make it. She didn’t say what her mission was. “She was curled up like a dog on my feet,” Rivi continues. “She had smoke where her eyes were supposed to be.” “You were having a dream,” I say. I pick up a dumpling with my chopsticks and take a bite…

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The Middlemost Exception

“In is the way out,” Middlemost says again. A subtle current of air drifts through the shed, and motes of dust spin through the beam of sunlight coming through the window. I can detect the faint scent of the sea, although we are miles from the shore. “You have questions,” he says. “Now is the time to ask them.” “Who are you? Why am I here?” He opens his arms and gives a slight bow. “I am Mr. Middlemost, as I have said, and you are here simply because you must be.” “I don’t know what that means.” “You had…

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Fist-Fighting Shatner on the Acropolis

Rivi and I are walking along Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park. As we go, she is counting the number of turtle heads she has seen breaking the surface of the water. “Three,” she says. “We should take a paddleboat,” I say. “Haven’t done that in a long time.” “Nah. I’m not feeling the call of the waves today.” “There aren’t any waves. There are never any waves. It’s Stow Lake.” “Let’s go to the de Young. That’s always nice.” She points at the water. “Four.” We have been in the park for a few hours today, having walked a…

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