i don't want to fuck this up

She has been through a lot of relationships in the past few years, and most of them have ended badly, and it has left her disaffected. For a while she was happy this way, but she met a girl who made her smile and laugh, and she hasn't felt that way about anyone in years. And almost every day since they started dating she keeps saying, "I don't want to fuck this up." Over and over. This is one time she won't be happy if it turns out to be a disaster.

She knows a boy who almost never talks, except to his girlfriend. They have been dating for years. He always just smiles when someone talks to him, and laughs a quiet little laugh. But mostly no one tries anymore, and mostly he just listens. Sometimes he interjects something completely unexpected.

He sometimes takes care of the kittens of a girl he knew in college, who lives alone in a studio downtown. She worries that she isn't social enough; after work she just comes home and reads stories on the internet. It makes her feel happy and not alone in a world where everything seems so superficial, to know that there are real people with real stories out there.

She just met a boy who is quiet and introverted but wants to go on adventures, and he likes her a lot and isn't sure how to say it. He thinks she likes him, too, but he is afraid that if he makes a misstep it will all fall apart. Things fall apart on him often enough as it is without his help. And tonight he has had a few too many drinks and he is writing her an email that begins with "I don't want to fuck this up."

regularly scheduled programming

The talking heads on the TV are telling us there's been a large scale breakdown of social order. There's rioting and looting everywhere, and cities are on fire, and it's not safe to be near civilization anymore. In the places where there's still law they're trying to make the evacuations as orderly as possible, but the huge lines are just turning violent everywhere.

They are telling us we need to run or hide or prepare. Lock everything down, make sure we have food and everything we'll need. They have an expert on saying it's only going to get worse from here. We have to be ready. We have to prepare.

And then there's pictures and video, and reporters on the scene with all the devastation and the violence. And they're all saying they've never seen anything like this, and the people they interview are saying they're scared and confused and angry. Where is the government for all this?

But we just made popcorn and my girlfriend's asleep on my shoulder, and some days it's hard to worry about anything else. Outside, the city is on fire both literally and figuratively but nobody's bothered us here.


you don't need to worry about me

When we finally lost power, I spent most of the night just sitting in the dark. I'd bought candles and I had plenty of batteries for my flashlights, but they're just sitting there on the coffee table, unopened. I probably won't open them before power gets back on. It's peaceful, just sitting here, listening to the wind howling, wrapped in my blankets. Sometimes thinking, but mostly just sitting. I'm not waiting for anything. I'd be happy if this could last forever.

I got a phone call from an old friend--the sort of old friend that you don't talk to anymore but you think about all the time, wondering why you don't talk. The sort you try not to think about anymore. The sort I'd almost succeeded at not thinking about. She wanted to know if I was okay, if I'd lost power, if I needed a place to stay. I didn't know why she thought that now was a good time to call, but I told her I was fine.

In all the times we'd talked I don't think I'd ever been sincere when I said that before, but tonight I really was. And when I told her I hoped she had a good day I really meant it.



You can still see the fire from the refugee camps. It's a constant glow on the horizon, and of course there's smoke. I didn't think that much smoke was possible.

I guess I should probably be upset that everything I own was destroyed. I packed a little bag of things before I escaped, but it's not much. Just whatever I could grab. The property damage and loss of life is incredible. Sometimes I'll be awake when a fireman comes back into the camp, and he says he doesn't think the fire's ever going to stop. It'll just keep burning and burning.

But there's something really pretty about it all, and I was feeling so alone in that town. It's probably just ash and cinders now. I'm not alone here. They like me here at the camp because I have a dark sense of humor and I don't get discouraged by the reports we keep hearing. I make them smile. And there's a girl whose whole life got destroyed who talks to me about it. About how she used to have problems, and now they're gone, and she's not sure what to think.

Tonight, before she went to sleep, she said that she felt hopeful because of me. The fires are still burning and everything I've ever known or loved is gone, but tonight I'm actually smiling. I don't remember the last time I really smiled.



I never asked her about her bruises.

She caught me looking once, and adjusted her skirt so they weren't visible anymore. She didn't say anything about it and neither did I. There was a story there, just like there's a story to everything. It was probably trivial. Fell down drunk at a party, perhaps. The important thing was I never asked. That's a story that I would never know.

There's probably hundreds of those. Most of it I have no reason to know. But it's there, and I was curious, but I couldn't ask. I felt like it might be intrusive, which seems like a bad reason. She could always say no. Or she could let me in. We could share that little story. It could be our secret.

Or it could have been nothing at all. I'll never know. The only moment we shared is one where neither of us acknowledged it at all, which mostly just makes me feel lonely. It's so trivial and I could have said it without any fear of repercussions. It would have been so easy.



Every day this past week I've left home cheerful and optimistic, ready to take on the world. And every day I've come home exhausted and defeated, curling up on my bed to sleep my troubles away. Usually I skip dinner.

It's never anything particularly dreadful. It's the little things. The small annoyances that you can forget about while you're asleep and showering in the morning, and those little petty things people can do to make each other miserable. Sometimes they do it to me, sometimes to other people. The worst is when I catch myself doing it. Making a face at the cashier for being slow, or rolling my eyes at the girl with the umbrella taking up the whole sidewalk. Making a biting remark to a customer at work. I'm exhausted well before it's time to go home, and my mood is quick to follow. The rest of the day seems tedious.

And then I sleep and something about the rest makes me forget what was bothering me. I just think that it must have been a terrible day and go out assuming that today will be mine. I wish I knew what it was about getting rest that makes me forget.



Someone destroyed all the evidence for the past five years of my life.

I'm not sure how it happened. I woke up today and all the receipts, all the things I'd done, all the transactions I'd made, were gone. Scrubbed from anywhere that kept track. My apartment has been cleaned out of any identifying characteristics. To all appearances I've just moved in here. Like none of it happened. All I have to show for the last five years is me.

Five years, in which so many things happened and so much changed that I don't even remember it all. I needed some of that evidence just so I could keep track. It's gone. None of the relationships or the lies or the mistakes or the good times--they happened, I think, if I can trust my memory. But I can't prove it. I can't convince anyone if they doubt me. I'm just me, and that's all I have. No past, no story, nothing holding me back.

This means I can do anything now. I finally have nothing to prove.


just visiting

I came home to a note which read something like this:

"Came by, you weren't here. Picked up some stuff. -S"

Which she said she was going to do. I told her I probably wouldn't be home, which was also true. Everything was exactly the way we'd said it would be. But the note bothered me, even if I was expecting it. I'd hoped that--

I picked up the phone. I hesitated. She didn't want to hear from me. She just needed to pick up some things. She did. It wouldn't help anything.

I called. She answered on the first ring. "Hey, sorry I missed you."

"What did you take?"


"What did you take?"

There was a moment of hesitation--or maybe it was just thought. Then: "Mostly just stuff I left in the basement. You won't miss anything, I promise. Some photo albums, some clothes. Things like that."


"How are you?"

"Not too bad. Busy."


"Yeah. Anyway, just thought I'd call and see if, you know."

Silence. Then, "Yeah. It was good talking to you, Rob."

She hung up by the time I said "you, too." I went downstairs to reshuffle some boxes, now that hers were gone. I didn't ask if any of the photos she'd taken away were of me.


nasty, brutish, and short

Dear A___,

When last you saw me it was at my going away party. I wanted to say that I had a very nice time, and that I feel very bad for not being entirely straight with you. I said that I should be returning at the end of the summer.

I lied. I may be gone for some time.

I meant to tell you that night, but I couldn't. Going away parties are meant to be happy. If there are tears, they are tears to celebrate all of the excellent times we've had. They should not be maudlin, and seeing your tears convinced me that I should become very maudlin indeed if I had to tell you. So I am writing you this letter now, removed from your smile and your tears and your questions.

I want you to know that I appreciated every moment, and I wished there had been more of them. But such is the way of things. The best of times are rare and impossible to appreciate until they are gone, and in my case were the only thing that made an otherwise intolerable environment bearable. And I know you would never permit me to be so dramatic in person, and that is precisely what it is about you that made me enjoy every moment so much, and precisely what it is I will miss so dramatically.

I wish very much that we had been more than what we were, but apart from everything else being so perfect, the time was too short for that. But perhaps we'll meet again, some other time in this fleeting life.

Think of me when it snows, will you?

R__ M____



I woke up this morning to a world filled with colors I had never seen before. Everything seemed so much more alive and vibrant--like I'd been living in greyscale until this very moment. I'm not sure if I'm saying that right. Is it--sharpness? I was so excited to see everything, I walked through my day in a daze. How can I focus on work when the sky is so blue?

And nothing seemed familiar. It was all so new. Like I'd never seen any of it before and it was there just for me. I couldn't talk to anyone about it, though. This was my little secret, and if they noticed I was being spacey, none of them asked me about it except to say "Are you okay?" and I just nodded. That's what you do.

And they left me alone and I wondered: Was it possible none of them noticed how beautiful everything is? Had I changed or had the world?

Was this real? Ay, there's the rub. This could be entirely in my head. I could have gone mad. I could be completely divorced from reality. Or, what seemed even worse, perceiving it wrong. Maybe the dreary shades of grey I was so used to were the way it really was.

I started doubting everything and hid from the sun, wearing dark glasses and shading my eyes when I had to go out, even at night, keeping my room as bare and white as possible, until there was nothing beautiful left.



In the convenience store last night I walked into another world. I was in the back corner considering if I wanted to buy a pack of Jones soda when it happened. Everything was different somehow, though I couldn't tell what had changed. I figured it was just sleep deprivation catching up to me and went home. I put my soda in the refrigerator and laid down on the couch to take a nap.

My girlfriend came over later and we chatted for a while. I asked if she'd gotten a haircut or done something different with her hair or something and she said no, nothing had changed. I shrugged and went into the kitchen to get us a soda, and we sat down and drank.

It did not taste like any soda I'd ever tasted. I said, "Does this taste funny to you?" and she took a sip and said, "No, it's just fine." And then I gave her mine. "Tastes just the same."

I tried hers. It was different, too. I sighed. "Maybe I'm just getting sick or something."

"Sorry, hon."

I told her I was really tired, and she'd had a long day, so we took a nap. It felt strange having her there--she didn't feel familiar like she used to. Her kiss felt uncertain. I slept uneasily, and I slept for a long time. When I woke up I was groggy and confused, and had no idea where I was. I barely recognized my girlfriend, and it was only the memory that that's who it was that reminded me--I'm in my house. This is my bed. That's my lamp.

So why don't I recognize any of it?

in case of emergency, pt. 7

I confronted her about it one evening, when I'd had a bit too much to drink. She said she had a lot more in storage, but she knew I wasn't buying it. I told her I hated how much time she spent on whatever she was doing, and asked her to stop.

"I can't. I need this. For me."

"This is all you ever do now."

"Just--an hour or two every day, at least. Let me keep that. Please?"

I agreed but I still wasn't happy about it. And every night she'd come home and spend an hour in the room, and eventually I couldn't take it anymore. I told her I was going to be out of town for the weekend, packed up, and waited for her to leave for work. Then I walked into the room.

It was a mess, filled with boxes and statuettes scattered everywhere. But it wasn't clear what she'd been doing, so I hid and waited instead. Several hours later she came home, singing to herself. She walked around outside for a while and I wondered if she wasn't coming in at all, but then she walked in with a glass of wine and sat down at the desk. I expected her to pull out her laptop and begin to work; instead she produced some sort of clay and began sculpting.

It was strange watching her work. She seemed focused and intent and quiet--and peaceful. She somehow seemed so much more vulnerable--so much more alive, in a way that she never really seemed to be the rest of the time, when she was just putting on a show for my benefit.

She probably would have kept going for hours without ever noticing me, but I tried shifting quietly when my leg fell asleep and ended up knocking over a few statuettes.

She wheeled on me then, looking frightened at first, then angry--in a way which seemed both new and very reminiscent of the day we met.

I stood quickly, saying something like "I can explain," but she stopped me.

"No, you can't," she said.

"I'm sorry?"

"You're not. Get the fuck out."


"I'm leaving." She began throwing things in her bag, avoiding my gaze as she did. Once she'd finished, I still stood there dumbfounded. She walked up next to me and stared for what seemed like hours. Then, "I guess it was fun while it lasted. But that's not for you."

And she fled.

I kept expecting a phone call or a letter, or to see her on the doorstep again. But all I had was the money and the little statues, which seemed to haunt me now. She still hasn't come back. There have been other girls, but never another Clara. Never so perfect and together and broken and fleeting and dream-like. And maybe because it didn't feel real at all, I never told any of them about the statues. I had to honor my broken promises.

in case of emergency, pt. 6

The money wasn't fast coming in but it was steady. But it was small and I started dropping hints that I wanted more--never suggesting she should do more, but by a week or so she was spending more and more time in her closed room. Things were tense around the house at times, but for the most part she seemed happy. But there was a weird distance there, like there was something she wasn't letting me see. It made her calmer than usual and happier, but I wasn't allowed in and it made me crazy.

I think she could tell I was upset because she started spending more and more time locked in the room. Some days she'd go in at odd hours, after I was asleep, and come back to bed hours later smelling of cigarettes and cheap beer and sleep contentedly next to me. Some days she'd just sleep in there and I wouldn't see her at all. And whenever I'd ask she just repeated her demand that I stay out. Always quiet, polite, kissing me on the cheek. "For us, remember?" And I was starting to wonder if it was. She seemed completely changed, and seemed to dread time outside of her little space.

But I couldn't argue, because she was pulling in a lot more money than I'd even hoped for. The emergency fund was more than full. She didn't seem to care. It had become her thing, now.

By now she should have gone through all of the little statuettes, I was sure. Every day she left with more and more packages to post. And yet the same ones still decorated various surfaces of the house. The supply never seemed to diminish.


in case of emergency, pt. 5

I've never fallen for anyone quite so quickly as I did Clara. For the next several months it felt like we were never separated. And then her lease expired and I didn't even think twice about asking her to move in with me. It just felt right, and the economy was still pretty bad. It made sense. She moved in while I was out of town. I came home and it felt more like home than it ever had.

I'm really not sure how you're supposed to describe it. It's not like everything was perfect, but it felt like one of those one-in-a-million things. We were seizing the moment because it was something you couldn't pass up.

But times were tough and the money got tight, and my savings were starting to look a little thin, and neither of us were pulling in enough to add any more to it--we could get by, but an emergency would bankrupt us both. I was out of ideas.

She suggested she could sell some of the little statuettes and trinkets she had. She had a lot of them--boxes and boxes of them, and a lot of them she used to decorate the house. "They're from my grandma. She'd travel a lot and she always came home with something for me."

"You don't have to do that."

"They're just trinkets. What am I going to do with a little statuette? I don't need a paperweight."

"I guess."

There was a spare room that was ostensibly a study that I mostly used for storage, and she set up camp in there. She'd spend a few hours doing inventory and listing them for sale online after she came home every day. "Don't ever interrupt me though," she said. She insisted on it several times. "If you interrupt I'll get distracted and I'll never get anything done. This is for both of us."

And if I knew one thing about her, it was that it's never good to argue when she was this insistent. And I never went into the room anyway, so it wasn't much work to agree.

"You have to promise," she said.

"I promise."

"Then I'll get you your savings back."


in case of emergency, pt. 4

She poured us each a whiskey and sat down on the couch, cupping hers in both hands. "I really did want to say thanks for helping me out," she said.

"Don't worry about it."

"It--I mean I was pretty fucked up, but it meant a lot to know there's still nice people in the world."

"I'm sure your friends would have helped you out eventually."

"I could have got a cab. I was going to call one. But no, you're just a perfect stranger helping someone out. I mean, you could have been--I really owe you."

"Can I ask what was wrong? I mean, apart from--"

"Everything." She laughed and leaned up against me. "It's a fucked up world. I couldn't begin to tell you."

"Well, I'm really glad we ran into each other."

She kissed me then, and said, "Me, too. When are we doing this again?"

"As soon as possible, I think."


in case of emergency, pt. 3

I tried to explain defensively how I knew her friends, and she just smiled at me. "Relax, kid. You did a nice thing. I wanted to say thanks. My name's Clara."

She held out a hand and I shook it. "Good to meet you."

"Yeah. So I'm going to buy you a beer or two tonight. To say thanks."

"Tonight? I'm kind of--"

"Offer's got an expiration date of today, kid. Take it or leave it."

A deadline is pretty handy at changing one's perspective. "Sure, why not?"

And we actually got on really well. It felt natural. After an evening of barhopping and exaggerated stories, the bars closed and we went back to her place for a nightcap. My head was spinning by now but it was far too early to end the evening.

in case of emergency, pt. 2

Her apartment was easy enough to find, and there was an elevator right to her floor. I laid her down on the couch and turned the light on. "Is it all right if I look at your hand?"

"If you want."

There was broken glass in the palm of her hand. I did my best to remove it, then wrapped up her hand with a cloth she insisted it was okay for me to use. She didn't seem to notice. I helped her to bed, and she fell asleep almost immediately. Her apartment--such as it was--was filled with little sculptures, including several glass sculptures.

I didn't think to ask about her, though sometimes I wondered if she was okay. I stopped seeing the girl, and mostly lost touch with that circle. Then one day Clara was on my doorstep, sober and smiling wryly.

I said, "Um, hi."

"Hey there," she said. "Who the fuck are you?"


in case of emergency, pt. 1

You may have heard this story before, but it's new.

The first time I met Clara, she was falling-down drunk and her friends were mostly just laughing at her. It was at a party where I didn't really know the host but the girl I was seeing at the time told me to come. It was a pretty cliquish party. None of my conversation seemed to get anywhere. I was really just waiting for an excuse to go, but I hadn't even seen the girl--I honestly forget her name now. I felt like I had to at least say hello.

And then Clara shouted "fuck you," punched someone in the eye, and staggered out the door. From her friends the reaction was mostly amused. Someone asked "Shouldn't we go after her?" The consensus was that she wouldn't get far, and she probably just needed space. "Probably just going for a cigarette," someone said.

I decided that "a cigarette" was a good excuse to duck outside, but it's not like anyone was following me.

She was seated on the sidewalk not too far from the house, clutching her knees to her chest and crying quietly. It looked like she'd fallen and skinned her knees, and there was some blood coming from her left hand as well.

I sat down next to her. "You all right?"

"I just wanna go home."

"Is it far?"

She shook her head. "I keep falling down."

I glanced back at the house. "Can I walk you there?"

She shrugged, then nodded. I helped her to her feet and she leaned on me heavily as we walked back to her apartment.



She took me to the Oregon beach and we burned driftwood and drank cheap wine out of the bottle and watched the darkness creeping in. She fell asleep on my shoulder when the bottle was empty, and I threw it out into the beach and watched the fire burning low. She woke up when I wrapped the blanket around her shoulders.

I told her I'm glad she took me here, and she nodded. "It's my favorite place in the world," she said, and she probably meant it. I said something about how I wished this night would last forever, and she didn't say anything. But there was something sad in her eyes. We spent a week there together. When it was warm we'd sleep on the beach with the blankets and the fire and each other for warmth. When it was too cold we'd walk back to the house we were staying in once the fire burned out, sleeping in our little bed, happy just to be there.

At the end of the week she asked me if I'd always think back on this as a happy memory, and I said I would. "Do you promise?"


We slept peacefully that night. She was gone in the morning, and I was alone and cold in the sunrise, trying to find her footprints in the sand. All I found was driftwood leading away from the rocks forever.


When we got married, we had little cyanide capsules surgically installed, so that we could only activate each other's. It was perfectly foolproof, and it was intended as a gesture of trust. I always felt like saying things like "I trust you with my life" was cheap, and now we had a way to back it up. I didn't really think about it at the time. It felt like the right thing to do.

I always felt like if I had someone else's life in my hands there would be a power trip. Like I wouldn't be able to be trusted with it. Maybe it was because it was mutual that I never felt that way, or maybe it's because we really did trust each other, but it just felt so natural and perfect--like wearing new shoes. At first you're kind of aware of it and it's uncomfortable but then they get broken in and you forget you have them entirely.

I was on a business trip to California where it's warm and nice this time of year, and after the conference I stopped at the bar for a drink with a woman who reminded me of a girl I never quite got over. A drink or two, anyway. I don't remember a point where I could have not gone back to her hotel room. There's never a moment like that.

Later, still drunk, I confessed it all on the phone and my wife forgave me like the beautiful person she is. I knew it could have been my life, and I know she was just tired. Maybe she wasn't thinking. Maybe she'd want revenge.

Better safe than sorry, right? Safety was just the press of a button away.

I tossed the ring out the window and texted the other woman saying I'd ordered champagne if she was interested. This weekend would be ours.


yearbook photos

I hadn't met my girlfriend yet in any of my high school yearbook photos. I've been studying them intently for the past few days. I still have the same smiles: the same smirk for when I know there's a camera, the same crooked smile when I don't. I've aged since then, obviously, and lost weight, but the smile is the same. You can tell a lot about someone from their smile.

I'm between two girls with perfectly composed smiles in all my yearbook photos. Every year their smile is the same. In every photograph, even when they can't see the camera. The same smile. It's plastic. It's a smile that's meant for photographs. It's guarded. These are people who go far because they know how to give people what they want, instead of give them who they are.

In mine I just look frightened. I'm not sure of what--maybe that I won't be smiling anymore soon. Or maybe I'm just surprised to be smiling? Either way, it's the same everywhere. No changes after I met my girlfriend, or when we started dating. I'm still afraid of smiling, I'm still smirking at the camera, fooling only myself.

But she's changed me. I know she has. I'm happier now. Surely that has to come through in photographs? So I keep looking for little signs. There's nothing new in my eyes. There's nothing different. It's all the same.


the abyss

A massive yawning chasm opened up in town square last week. No one seems to know where it came from or why it's there, and there doesn't seem to be a bottom. It just goes on forever. It's perfectly round, and the police have roped it off with police tape, but nobody stops you from going up and looking down. Scientists keep saying it's impossible, and I guess they know more about that than I do.

My sister was in town today, so I took her down to the abyss and we sat at the edge and had a picnic. We just threw the garbage into the gaping emptiness. We didn't talk about the fact that our feet were dangling into an impossibility. That would be awkward.

Every night since it opened I've gone out and paced around its circumference. I never measure it or counted steps, but it takes about an hour to go all the way around and I can do it with my eyes closed now. It's so dark and quiet and smooth. Sometimes I'll shout into it and the echoes seem to last forever. And then they fall quiet and I'm all alone again.

It feels more familiar than anything I've ever known. I know its shape, its infinite depth. Everything about my hometown, my lover, seems like I barely scratched the surface before. Now I understand them in relation to the abyss, and it seems so much clearer.



I have lost the ability to communicate with my girlfriend in any way. It started last week. I noticed that any time she talked, it sounded like English, but I didn't understand any of the words. I couldn't grasp anything she wrote. And I could tell from her expression that she didn't know what I was saying either, though we couldn't even communicate non-verbally. Somehow it just doesn't make any sense.

It has not affected either of our abilities to communicate with other people, though it does prevent them from actually being able to successfully act as an intermediary between us. Or that's what I think I've managed to figure out. It's hard. We can't actually spend time in the same room with other people anymore, unless one of us doesn't say anything, and even then we only get half the conversation.

I wish I knew what it was doing to her. She seems so sad lately. She'll come home and cry and I'll hold her and try to tell her it will be okay, knowing that she won't understand. She says something to me and I wish I knew what it was. I just know that her kisses taste like farewells and sad endings, and if she leaves I'll never know until she's gone. And I'll always wonder if one day she'll return.



My dreams have been increasingly vivid lately, and more believable. I don't want to say realistic, but I never think about them being dreams. Everything makes perfect sense and I've started building these elaborate worlds in my mind, which aren't usually that different from the real world. The characters are the same. The differences are subtle, and grow more profound as time wears. I wake up confused, anxious, worried, or, rarely, happy.

Except, lately the worlds are getting stranger. There's more differences. The world won't be round at all. There will be no more electricity. Time doesn't work properly. Everything takes place in the framework of a novel or a play, and there's no time between scenes. I've always had these dreams but I've never believed them before. Usually I figure it out. But these days I don't. I go through these absurd worlds like they're real--it's not like I understand them any less than the real world, and they have the benefit of dream logic to them.

And then I wake up in the morning, and somehow nothing seems real anymore. I wander through my life in a daze. My girlfriend asks me what's wrong, and I usually don't hear her. The one time that I do, I tell her I feel like something has changed.

"Between us?" she says, and I say no. I tell her I can't explain it. I tell her that it feels like I found a loose thread in reality and just started pulling, and soon everything started coming unravelled. "It's more like I'm in a story than a word with rules."

And she holds me close like she does when she's worried about me, and I fall asleep, and a world which makes sense waits for me.

deja vu

The strangest part about the end of the world was how familiar it all felt. It happens sometimes with disasters: I'll hear the report on the radio and then I will wonder why they are reporting old news. Yes, I understand that the world is on fire. But didn't we already know that?

This time it's worse, though. I walked outside to see smoke rising from Boston's skyline, to see most of the Prudential tower just gone, and it felt like I'd done that before. The smoke was in the same shapes. The train that was derailed just across the street was derailed at the same place it was before. And of course it hadn't been.

I called my lover to make sure everything was okay, and immediately it was like we'd had this conversation before. I hung up the phone, not worried that the world was over, but that I was living out something that I'd already seen happen.