The plungeAn empty lot. Surrounded by dusty chain-link fencing, bent by neglect. The kind of place where kids would sneak to drink cheap liquor in the back of a pickup truckand set off fireworks, illegal but not quite dangerous. Abandoned, but not forgotten.Our house is going to be built here one day. Beyond the chains, surrounded by identical roofs, garage doors, dormer windows and Rottweilers. This will be our neighborhood. Our community. The barely remembered playground of former teenagers, the graveyard of dimpled beer cans and half-consumed french-fries. Home. Someday.We pull up in our silver four-door, a few yards outside the gap in the leaning fence. A few strains and a hop, and we’re through. The grit stings and claws at the imagination. That picture is stained with an orange haze, wind-streaked and dust-addled like the plastic sheeting covering the wood beams. Walk around and see what it will become. A dream of green and yellow and blue. Water will find the place where it is wanted. New life will fill the wasteland. But dust will creep back in, muddy the image, settle and give form to the mirage. This place, it belongs to the sand. It can only be painted, never wiped clean.I make my way back to the car, through the cracking walls of this future paradise. Lungs itching in irritation, I need to breathe something real again.Approaching the window of the front seat, I reach my hand into my pocket, grappling for the keys that mean my escape. Fingers meet metal. Twirled around my index finger, the keys follow my hand’s movement. But they catch on the stitching of my jeans. I lose my hold. They fall.Footsteps and a shadow. A black sedan with opaque windows. Who is this voiceless stranger with stone behind his eyes? Why does he not speak? I look up.The lack of recognition sounds discord in my throat. Foreign. Out of place. My tongue swells, sensing the peril my mind is not aware of. It sits oddly in my mouth, too dry.He stands arms length from me. His face carries no intent, his eyes betray no connection, no love, no hate. Cold hardness presses against the curve of my belly.I look into his eyes in wonder, fear only threatening to form in the back of my mind. A distant bang, a pressure. The tiny piece of honed metal already buried in the depths of my flesh before questions form.Pain does not register.This is not how it is supposed to go. I should know you, faceless man. It should hurt. I should feel. Betrayal. Completion. Something. There is no flash of memory. No dawning of enlightenment. I should wonder, but the blackness creeps too quickly. My gut is wrenched so subtly I cannot scream. Thoughts fade, cease to form, never were. Nothing remains. There is only the plunge.
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