At night I am drawn to the streets, through the bad neighborhood, to the house of my friend. I ring the bell, and someone who is not my friend answers. Where is my friend, I ask. When did he move? Where has he gone?

The man in the door, the man without a smile, opens his eyes. Your friend is not here. Your friend has never existed except as a pleasant dream. I have lived in this house for seventeen years, past your small dreams of friendship. You have been nowhere. You have been nothing. In fact, he says, eyes burning, had your soul advanced as his did, you too would be in another space, another time, as if you too had never existed, with only a placeholder to commemorate you. Instead, you are with me in the land of the unsmiling. The land of the unsmiling. The land of the unsmiling.

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