Despair rose up in me like a flash flood, so quickly that it had almost reached my heart, when I heard a snuffling. The dog who smelled like cake shuffled out from behind an overgrown bush. “Are you real?” I asked her. “Or are you going to disappear, too?”
She cocked her head and bared crooked teeth at me, as if to say, does it matter?
I dropped down to the ground next to her. When I wrapped my arms around my knees and began to cry, she butted her head against me until I laid a hand on her back. The setting sun was hot on my neck. “You won’t be safe here,” I told her. “You should go back into the woods, where’s it cooler.”
But she wouldn’t move.
Tiredly I leaned back against the damp, cold ground. When I closed my eyes I heard some more snuffling, and then felt her fuzzy head against the palm of my hand. We will be safe tonight, I thought to myself. Tomorrow was anybody’s guess. Absolute safety would never be mine to have. It simply did not exist.