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  • We were women playing school-boy games at dusk in a grassy field at the edge of a little patch of woods. Not Kick-The-Can or Capture-The-Flag. Games we made up ourselves, games adults would only make up in dreams. We were playing and laughing and running and chasing and hugging and out of breath and free.

    Some ran through the woods and we followed them. As a meadow spilled out, all the constellations of stars in the sky reflected like a mirror onto the dewy grass, twinkling. We laid down next to our stars winking in the grass, giggling, and felt our hair and clothes drinking in the dew, sinking into the fold of everything, glowing dark blue in the moonlight. I wondered how long until every last star extinguished, and what could be shown about anything, matter or energy, between now and then. Stardust to stardust, soil to soil, dust to dust, until no one says or does anything anymore, until nothing.

    The head of something, an animal, was peeking through the grass a few feet to the left, half-buried, and its eye was cloudy and rolled back in its lid. It was a big deer with an ear like an endive leaf. It was sinking into the fold of everything. We looked to the right, and there was another animal whose head was nestled above the grass, body under earth. It was a tiger. We looked at her eye, half-rolled into its lid, like the deer. But then, it moved, looked directly at us. She was pretending to be asleep. We were still giggling but felt trouble. We decided to get up.

    We ran across the creek, our shins pushing through water headed down-stream, our feet cold on rocks on the bottom. We ran up the bank, and looked at the tiger emerged from the ruptured brown earth, patches of loose grass strewn around her, standing and shaking herself off. We ran down the cobblestones, underneath the leafless, fruitless, labyrinthine grapevines, which look uncommitted to the untrained eye, but are really dormant, gathering energy to grow this season's leaves and bear this season's fruit. We ran between the columns in the outdoor hallway, and into our room, giggling but scared, and jumped up onto our armoire and bedpost.

    In came the tiger, tail slowly wagging. She waited a beat, planning. Then she lunged toward us and we screamed. No words can describe the terror, the heaving lungs, the heart on fire, the bruises you don't know you're creating. The terror of wondering whether you are about to sink into the fold of everything. She licked what she could reach, my toe, and I knew: of course I am sinking into the fold of everything. But I am not yet extinguished. I am still breathing.

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