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One night, Rose was alone in her college dorm room. Her roommate had gone out on her usual Saturday date. Rose and Jill lived on the fourth floor, up a narrow winding staircase, on the far north end of the Quad. The Quad was the best dorm on campus, yet few people ever came to ‘the tower,’ as Rose called it.

She thought about going down to the TV lounge, or maybe to the cafeteria for a hot chocolate. It was late October, and already completely dark at seven. Rain slashed against her window as she kept watch from her seat at her desk. From time to time an oak leaf would stick itself to the glass for a while before blowing free.


Rose decided she didn’t feel like talking to anyone, even though she really wanted some hot chocolate. She would just stay in her room instead and read a story.

Without being fully aware of what they were doing, her fingers had found their way into her bellybutton, and they were picking at the grape nut. Rose was thinking about what would happen when her roommate got back. Jill and her boyfriend might want to use the room, and Rose would have to find someplace to go. It would have to be the basement laundry room. She could do some laundry and watch some television. There was no way she was going out to the library in that rain.

Just then, she noticed what her fingers were doing. She felt something. Her left pinkie nail had done something. The grape nut had moved! She dug now more carefully with her nail, prying as firmly as she could. She felt a drop of sweat roll down her cheek. She pried harder still, carefully, carefully, she must not lose her place. She was holding her breath. Then, she let out a loud gasp, and everything sort of let go all at once.

She had fallen from her chair and was on her hands and knees with blood pouring from her belly. The room spun halfway around then snapped back into place. Everything looked very clear for a second, like it was made of glass, even the walls, and they were shining with a soft blue light.

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