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The fever, to Juno, is an excuse for an afternoon alone. The afternoon alone is an excuse for a fix. The fix is an excuse to indulge in her purity ritual.

Sometimes she does it two or three times just to make sure it takes: check the door locks, set needle to vinyl, space heater, phone silent, line chair up with seams in the tile. Compulsion. Her hands are shaking a little, but they have plenty of reasons to do so.

For what, begs the question, is the ritual an excuse? Dopamine circuits close in Juno’s brain, sparing her the answer.

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