I never expected to return here. I don’t really remember any of it—except the color—but somehow I can tell that nothing has changed. There are no tangible walls, no floor or ceiling, only a blast of hot pink on every side. I might reflect on how I have changed since then, but being here renders me completely incompetent.

The children are gathered around in a circle, Indian style, just as before, their attention fixed on the young woman with the colorful storybook. I listen with them—I want to hear the story too—but all I can hear is the traffic outside. I can only watch as her lips move enticingly to the beat of storytime, and her kindergarten minions are inspired for the last time in their lives.

There is a neon sequence of letters off to the right that spells “OPEN.” The children are forgotten now, and I set my gaze on this wonder of technology. I try to see what the lights are referring to, but they just fade away, assimilated into the pink background.

Exasperated, I decide there is nothing left to do but take the money out of my wallet and shove it into my mouth and eat it. Dollars have no taste, and they dry out my tongue, and I don’t know why I just ate the money that I’ll undoubtedly be needing later. And now I am alone with a mouth full of paper—wet, tasteless paper in my mouth that I can’t even swallow.

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