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on childhood (breaking form) This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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when i was a kid,
my imaginary friends had backstories.
they came from secret syndicates, from alien planets, from supernatural cities with a lopsided sense of the present:

i would sit in the car and watch them take strides alongside me
and no matter where i was going, they'd be—
i remember that place like its linoleum linings and a
light layer of dirt, i remember windows with shades that look like panels of carbon-fiber,
that make me feel like i’m something special;
my mother opens a map in the front seat that
could block out the sun, if it tries.
there is no end to a country road, but i would never worry for my friend outside the window,
because she has a jetpack, and she won’t tire.
i remember—

falling asleep with my face against whichever side of the leather feels coolest against my skin,
in some memories my sister will be there, dozing in a car seat;
maybe there is rain in the distance, and i urge my friend to join me inside.
and she and i will sit there in the backseat for awhile
as an illinois storm batters the windows, the windshield,
but i am safe, and we are moving far from here, wherever it is that is behind me, i remember—

places in fragments, shards of memory and
gas stations in the middle of nowhere;
they feel lonelier than i do.
so far and wide, i can see nothing for miles and
i reach for my friend’s hand, where she looks past me;
my expanse is something of home, this pretty nothing,
these endless country roads, where i cannot lose anything

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