His beer-battered tongue engorged her little mouth like horse balls, a hair from which unfurled to scratch at her uvula. It flitted in the purgatory of her throat even after he dislodged. When her face came into focus, he told her to leave.
She did remember how to walk, but her room at the end of the house was no other country. Stopping by her closet there, she took her black dress and did what he said. At the edge of her yard, where grass gave way to a bank of redwoods, she threw the dress over her clothes, grabbed her cardboard Mayflower, and sailed down the bank, the forest a curtain closing behind her.
When she reached the bottom of the bank, she sat with her toes in a cold creek. A salamander winked at her and crept in. The water carried it over a rock’s ledge, and it did not resurface downstream. She watched for an era as the water flowed on without it.
Standing now, she pushed over a log, a home to a nest of grub-worms. She saw the forest was littered with fallen branches. Were grubs under each of them? Did they writhe beneath her in the humus?
Sighting a banana slug, she picked up a stick and speared it. Purple blood gushed, and its body contorted around the wound. She heard her mother’s voice telling her she should know better, as if knowing better somehow meant she’d know what else to do.
From above the light thinned. She dropped the stick and marched back, leaving her boat at the bottom of the bank.