1. They'd fill our tired old world with blissful panic.
  2. All those summer evenings they spent on the porch have been streamlined into archetypes and filed away in different sections of her cerebral cortex.
  3. She recalls swimming under stars and singing folk songs and drinking wine until their heads floated off their necks.
  4. ...the dark shape in the bed beside her when she came up gasping from the depths of a bad dream.
  5. And then she felt drained of wrath.
  6. ...sucked into the oblivion of the dog days: shrieking cicadas and heat like a blanket of wet velvet that made you feel half-asleep.
  7. ...smiling slyly, the way he used to when our love was a living creature, breathing in the room with us.
  8. Gobs of slobbered paper flew from certain mouths, smacked against the napes and cheeks of certain targets.
  9. "Consider the salmon," you actually say, though there are no hip, clever people around to get your allusion.
  10. As darkness closes in on the balcony, you feel the world shrinking to nothing but you and your aging parents.
  11. ...and your mother begins to cry, her face ripped open at the mouth, loose around the eyes, ravaged by decades of cheap food, polluted air, carcinogenic sun, and disappointment.
  12. Plus, mist-cloaked mountains swell around us.
  13. The ocean is gorgeous, but what's the point?
  14. Cicadas scream.
  15. The sour chunks of food I keep sucking from my braces symbolize something - I'm not sure what...
  16. Mom laughs at something he has said - they must be in love again.
  17. At last the tears start trickling, and the sadness of the world courses through my scrawny body...
  18. ...and when the devil laughs at you he sounds like TV static and screaming rabbits.
  19. You could tell by the way he sighed and flipped around that he dreamed of better places - glamorous and distant, with a different kind of light.
  20. They hid incurable toenail funguses within their fashionable shoes...Cysts and tumors bloomed in the obscure darkness of their wombs and testicles, in their brain and breast tissue, in their livers, gallbladders, bowels, and lungs.
  21. ...she always got depressed in these backwater towns with dead Main Streets and flood zones packed with double-wides.
  22. Flipping through channels, she felt a panicky wash of pleasure as the borders of her identity began to dissolve.
  23. I reveled in the perfection of her organs - especially the beautiful efficiency of her heart, which throbbed at the core of her, even when she was at rest.
  24. Nevertheless, I wanted to fuse with her in some meaningful way.
  25. How could we help falling together in the darkness?
  26. The End of the World is something they can toss between them like a fraternal football, a prosthetic appendage that enables them, two troubled men, to touch each other.
  27. And they keep on dreaming up new nightmare worlds.