The scent of growth, quiet and green, hung heavy in the air. I heard everything. I saw everything. I could count the craters on the moon. I could count every mosquito buzz past, bypassing my tender skin out of respect for a fellow bloodsucker.

I’m leaning against the bookshelves when it occurs to me that one thing here is real-the books. I reach behind me and let my fingers trail over the rough leather of their antique spines, then pull one free. Nobody here reads them; the books are for decoration. Chosen for the richness of their leather bindings not for the contents of their pages. Nobody will miss one, and I need a dose of reality.

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