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The end of the world

He steps outside and realizes he forgot to fold this part.

The sky above him glints like sugar spilled on ink. There are trees here, sharp and twisted things, like nothing on earth. Where is he?

When is he?

How old is he?

How old was she when–

He grabs a branch; his hand comes away bloody, and he smears it across the pages. Names lift from it and float away (Zocco Zion Zinnia Zhenya) but they’re all wrong. What page was it on? Seventeen? Nineteen?

Maybe he shouldn’t ask.

Somewhere a snowskull drifts to earth, ELIOT melting from its brow.


Three weddings that summer, and Penny and Bram are sitting at a reception table with “if we’re thirty-five and single, then” yelling in their ears. Bram looks at Penny. Penny looks at Bram.

Penny writes a prenup that will give back exactly what they put in; single dad Bram has five-year-old Zinnia give him away. They save some money on health insurance. Bram gets an apartment down the hall: Zinnia, it turns out, is Penny’s biggest fan.

When they go out, alone, they wear their bands on slender necklace chains. Neither pauses to consider the semiotics of that.