Stirring from sleep, I try to recapture the fragments of her smile, but they’re already fading away as the last streaks of light leave the sky outside. Getting up, my balls begin to ache, as does my throat. Looking out the window, I imagine walking the streets of the town I left behind long ago. Standing by the lake that was once dried up now flooded with cold, green water, I’m swimming in its memory. The sights and sounds of a Saturday night with bars and clubs in full swing. The curvaceous bodies just waiting to be taken and possessed. The empty minds and thread-bare desires. I was once like them, losing myself in the moment, not caring for the shame that would greet me the next morning. All those careless days, those riots of art and sex. Shaking my head, I get dressed and leave the house. Cold and starry, the night sky greets me with anticipation. Walking the quiet pathways that I’ve walked a thousand times before, I journey for the best part of an hour before returning home. When I do, my throat begins to hurt again. Then I remember my aching balls and conclude I’ve got ball cancer, and that it’s spreading upwards, eating away at me from the inside. Picking up a book, I read a few pages but grow bored. There’s nothing I want to do, and nowhere I want to go. Listening to music while sitting at my desk, I drift in and out of consciousness. I’m moving into some other realm, some parallel universe. Floating forwards, she rises into the sky, her beauty spreading across the land. Grinning at me as I watch in awe, she speaks her secret, but as the words leave her mouth, they don’t reach me. Instead, they dance before my eyes, all mocking and true. Trying to snatch at them, I’m back at my desk again, the lights of a passing car momentarily illuminating the room. Holding my cancerous throat, I take a sip of beer and close my eyes as music calls from a distant place. Straining the best I can, I see myself stood at the end of a pier with the ghost of a young child holding my hand as a storm approaches. Looking up at me, the little girl tells me that it’ll be okay, but as the waves come crashing down, my heart is filled with fear.