You fall out the bottom of a bad dream and land ass-up in the swamp your uncle ran off to after the car accident that killed his wife. Parallel lives, he says, and you want to say no, not really, but the words get lost somewhere in the muck. It’s a cartoon of a place. A rust-eaten school bus, half-buried. Trees draped with dark curtains of wet moss so thick and heavy the light can’t get in. Smells like lettuce left in the veggie drawer way, way too long. But your uncle has a wild-ass beard and gun and a guy who brings him groceries once in a while and he says you’ll be okay here, he says no one’s looking for you anyway, which how the hell is that supposed to make you feel better about your life choices, but whatevs. A few days, a week, a month, who knows how long, time passes and you’re already feeling as off the rails as he looks, and it’s not just the beard. Back home, you imagine, things have died down, everyone’s moved on, or maybe they haven’t, it doesn’t much matter because you’re never, ever going back to that place. Not ever. You will be here, in this underbelly, this marshy thicket at the wrong end of the world. It’s just like in that song, your uncle says, and you say you have no idea what he’s talking about and then you disappear.
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