Eventually, Iris comes in caught breaths and thoughts snagged on branches and the sense of guilt I feel looking down at the soul-person residing in my chest. We had a tree in our front yard when I was growing up. I had a black hole in my stomach then, too. I named them Victor, and Victor drove away the world outside until there was nothing left but the place where people live. I imagined a place with square houses of all different styles, winding cobblestoned streets and a lake that had its own gravity; there was an abandoned church somewhere off to the side with a cement-walled basement and a forest where the trees stood tall and close together. Sometimes the forest was purple, sometimes the forest was gray. I imagine there must have been a seaside nearby at some point, because there were “the docks” by which I mean eroded slopes and piers jutting out and the smell of salt and a persistent wind always there. Even if you couldn’t always see the water. 

        Iris is 26 and lives in her family home, set somewhat apart from the cluster of square houses, with a field of wheat or tall grasses just below the house but not yet over the ridge. Victor is there, too. And the Ocean. There was the Ocean in the sky.