Work Header

don’t take the money

Work Text:

This is how we got close, bound inexorably by the atmosphere, like those that decompose the same way.

— Ryoko Sekiguchi, Heliotropes (trans. Sarah O’Brien)





I was camping. Yeah, you know, I was with my friends and we were gonna—like we were heading for Joshua Tree. Backpacking? It was such a pain in the ass to get the time off, you know, cuz everybody takes time off in November, but I saved up my PTO and got Audrey to cover me—Audrey’s the other admin assistant, super nice—anyway, we all met up at Juniper Flats on Thursday. And we were somewhere in the desert this one morning, I don’t know, must’ve been a Saturday, right, fuck if I remember now, uh… so I break off to pee, and there’s this. Earthquake? Kind of thing. [Subject indicates shaking motions with both hands. Provides sound effects.] And all of a sudden this cliff off to my right splits open. I go in. It’s fucking glowing red. I hear voices. I step a little closer, and then it’s like—like my heart gets vacuumed straight out through my mouth. Like I just get pulled in. And then I—then… look, I don’t know how to say this, are you sure you want to know? [Subject is silent for a prolonged period.] I woke up back in my tent. [Subject is silent for a prolonged period.] And I kept waking up in my tent every day for maybe six or seven years.





When Sarah was five, she wanted to be an astronaut. That’s about all she remembers, actually, about being five. There are relics of all of her ages inside of her, somewhere, but most of them amount to more than that—a birthday party, at least. Five is only this: a preoccupation with biting the heads off of animal crackers, and thinking at any given moment about the rings of Saturn. 

Therapist #4 had found this really fucking interesting. Why space? She’d sat forward in her wicker chair and everything. Most girls want to be veterinarians, or the president. A nurse, maybe. What do you think that means? Sarah had been hard-pressed to think of a time in her life when she had felt more annoyed. I don’t know. That I’ve never had a nurturing personality, and I subsist on existential crises? Therapist #4 hadn’t been too impressed. You’ve just never wanted to be here, Sarah, she had said. You never want to be anywhere you are. 

That was how Therapist #5 happened.

She might have forgotten the astronaut thing, actually, had it not been for living through innumerable lifetimes in Palm Springs or whatever. Nothing like the horror of infinity to get you off your ass to fulfill your childhood dreams, right? Not that she’s got any plans to be an actual literal astronaut; she’s learned enough about space, now, to know that it should scare the shit out of her—no, she comes out of her time loop an astrophysicist. What’s the saying? You don’t become one of the world’s leading experts on quantum mechanics without breaking a few eggs. It’s just a little funny, anyhow, isn’t it? The way things circle back to themselves, the repetition of desire, the one unbreakable fishbone stitch through living. Maybe that’s what she’s getting at here. The vastness of the world, the smallness of existence. The triumph of Being, one individual entity in the careening infinite cosmos. She’d cried about it, on occasion. It had felt weird to see that exhilarating, tragic feeling culminate in blowing up a goat. But, you know. Once upon a time somebody had looked at the stars and thought, let’s get some fruit flies up there. 

That’s what she’s thinking about when she and Nyles get thrown out of that family’s pool. Fruit flies. She’s thinking about fruit flies, dripping chlorine water onto somebody else’s driveway, getting a sunburn that she’ll still have tomorrow. 

“This is really, really embarrassing,” Nyles says, “but I super don’t remember where I parked my car.” 

Sarah tips her head back, eyes squinted against the desert sun. It’s November 10, and she’s like a hundred years old, and somewhere out there Saturn still has rings. 

“I’ll give you a ride,” she tells him, and turns to her left, one eye shut tight, to give him a crooked smile. “Where do you wanna go?” 

Nyles’s big hands bracket his hips. He blows out a breath, puffing his cheeks. Nyles, who hates cashews and has a dog named Fred. One of them shaggy dogs, she thinks, with a huge rush of love. 

“I live in Berkeley,” he says, almost like it’s a question. 

“What the fuck am I, a Greyhound? I’ll give you a ride to In-N-Out.” 





Jesus. You know, it took you people long enough! This was thirty years ago, you understand? Well, thirty years and change. All right, all right, not a crowd with a sense of humor, good to know. How’s that? Just follow procedure? Sure thing. Procedure is my middle name. So for me it was… February ’93. Little town called Punxsutawney. There was a bear of a snowstorm that day, let me tell ya. Cut off traffic from there to Pittsburgh. I thought I’d be stuck there forever. Turns out I was! Well, forever and change. Still no? All right, don’t fall out of your chairs laughing or anything… yeah, so, uh, the blizzard. The groundhog. Six more weeks of winter, and so on and so forth. God, I tried to off myself so many times. Did nothing. I was convinced I’d somehow become God. But everybody goes through that, right? I mean, in this sort of thing. How’d I get out? I don’t know. One day it just sort of happened. It was supposed to be snowing and then it stopped and that was when I knew. What was I doing? When? You mean what was I doing when it stopped snowing? What was the one act that somehow had the power to propel me out of this paradoxical snag in spacetime where death and karma were meaningless? You’re not gonna believe this, but I fell in love.





“I need some time,” Sarah says. “By myself.” 

This obviously fucking devastates him, but he covers it up well enough—gives her that consolation of a smile that pulls up one end of his mouth but not both—and nods, and licks some mayonnaise off his finger. After they’d gone back to the hotel, and Sarah had packed up all of her things, and Nyles had thrown all of his in a dumpster, they’d driven to In-N-Out, just as she had promised. 

The back of his neck is red, and his hat is on backwards. And he looks like she’s just sucked the air out of him. 

“Yeah, okay,” he says. “Sure. Cool.” 

“I just mean I—I need to like, experience it again,” Sarah tells him. “Remember what it was. I think it’d be good. I think it’d be mandatory, actually.” 

Nyles nods again, his expression mending itself, softening. 

“Yeah,” he repeats, but he seems to mean it this time. “No, yeah, you’re right. You’re right.” 

“Like, I don’t even remember what color my carpet is. Or if I even have a carpet. What if I don’t have a carpet?”

Nyles looks at her across the table with more tenderness than she has ever known anyone to look at her.Twenty minutes later Sarah kisses him goodbye—long and deep, fingers tangled in his hair, body-to-body—and gets in her car, and puts on Joni Mitchell, and drives. 

She drives back to Austin, the same feverish all-nighter along I-10 she’d pulled a century or so ago—subsisting on blue raspberry Icees and 7-11 hot dogs, screaming the lyrics to “People’s Parties” to keep herself awake. Laughing it all away! Phoenix! Laughing it all away! Las Cruces! Laughing it all away! El Paso, baby!

It’s just after 6 AM when she hits home. She drifts through the blue hour to Cherrywood, directionless, road-sore eyes drifting over the windows of the houses, some lit and some still curtained. God, they have lawns here, remember lawns, she wonders to nobody in particular. Nyles, maybe, three states away. 

She pulls into her driveway. Her bins are out on the curb, emptied. She gets the key in the lock, falls on the door until it opens. Her living room smells like a burned candle. She goes into the bathroom—fishes the electric razor out from under the sink—shaves her head. Comes back out. Turns on all the lights she can remember and lands hard in the middle of the couch. Her whole body feels heavy, dense with life. 

There’s a half-finished painting of a saguaro on the easel by the window. That’s right.  She’d been working on that one for about a month. She’d gotten stuck on the lighting, like usual. Light has always been a language she can’t render.

Dimly, she wonders if she even still remembers how to paint.

Then she sleeps for two straight days. 





[This interview has been translated from Malay.]

I was at the beach with my siblings. It was 1931. I think that I was eight years old. I had seven siblings; only three are still alive. We lived on Pulau Ubin. My oldest brother ran bumboats from the island to the mainland. My father worked in the granite quarry. Now the granite quarries are gone. They are filling up with water. No one lives there anymore. But in those days there was a great variety of people. On the day at the beach I ran away from my siblings to walk along the tidal flats by myself, even though I was not supposed to. It was low tide, so I thought that it was safe. Suddenly a great wave came from nowhere. Maybe it was a sneaker wave. But it swept me away. I thought that I would never get to eat my mother’s kaya toast again and it made me sadder than I could bear. I thought, “Please, let me live. Let me live.” When I woke up again, it was the same morning. My siblings were getting ready to go to the beach. My sister Bulan said, “[subject name redacted], what are you waiting for?” Because I always slept in! This I remember. But that was so long ago now. I had just learned to count in school, and I liked to count, so I counted every day in my head. I lived this day seven hundred and fifty-two times. Then, just like that, it was over. Time began again. A week later my father died in an accident. 





Sarah had never wanted to be one of those people who has an emotional breakdown at the Wheatsville Food Co-Op. She had really never wanted to be one of those people who does it in the produce section. It turns out she’s both. A nice old woman with about ten beaded necklaces comes over to check on her and Sarah is thinking about morning traffic and the stock market and school vacations and stillbirths and early trains and all told it feels like the closest thing to disintegrating, and that’s how she ends up sobbing like an infant in front of this total stranger. She’s going to make fucking ratatouille with this, she insists through coughs and tears, this fat deformed zucchini in her hand. She’s going to make so much she won’t be able to eat it all because buying in bulk is cheaper right and then she’s going to put the leftovers in the fridge and forget about it and in a few days they’ll spoil right they’ll be completely inedible because food ages and things rot and isn’t that beautiful? And the woman says yes dear why don’t we get you on Vonlane, I’d give you a ride myself but I only have my bike, because of course she does, because it’s Austin. 

“Is that when you knew it was real?” Nyles asks over FaceTime. He has a beard now, or the beginnings of one. “The zucchini thing.”

Sarah shakes her head. It’s a dusky blue spring evening, and she’s sautéeing the onions and peppers for the ratatouille, which she is, as she had hysterically told the woman in the produce section, going to make, and isn’t that just a fucking triumph of living? Her phone is on the counter, propped up against the stainless pages of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, so that she can talk to Nyles while she does.

She and Nyles call each other every day—say I love you every day; see each other’s faces every day, as if to log the subtle changes, a new laugh line or sunspot, like time can be measured by such things. Like time can be measured at all. Sometimes she misses him so bad it feels like her insides are fraying. Those times she keeps the phone face-up on her pillow and listens to him talk about product design—and hey, God, Nyles a product designer!—until she falls asleep or until the battery dies, whichever comes first. 

She still has her job teaching art at the Dittmar Rec Center during the week. She had remembered how to paint after all, although the first few times had been like trying to do it through a hangover. She delivers for a taco place, too, on weekends. She hopes they don’t hear about the Wheatsville thing.

“You know when I knew it was real?” asks Sarah. 


“When I woke up in the middle of the night and had to take a shit.” Sarah’s eyes swim with emotion. “Honest to God, I’d forgotten what that felt like.” 

“God, you’re right,” Nyles says in awe. When Sarah steals a glance at her phone screen, she sees his forehead knotted up, his eyes distant. She grins in spite of herself. He really does look floored. “Talk about a newfound appreciation.” 

A laugh bubbles over in her chest. She goes back to the pan. 

“Hey, did you see the news?”

“No. What’s up?” 

“Woolly mammoths aren’t extinct anymore. Bunch of ’em showed up in Canada.” He pauses. He’s speaking in the same casual drawl as ever, but seems to need to adjust the weight of what he’s saying so it doesn’t fall apart. “Plus, uh, people keep seeing old junks and pirate ships in the China Seas. They pop up for, like, an hour? And then disappear again. Cannons and everything.” 

Sarah’s heart starts to beat a little quicker. She turns the burner off, and picks up the phone—Nyles’s whole being, framed in the palm of her hand—and raises her eyebrows. 

“Like the dinosaurs,” she says. 

“Yep,” Nyles replies, popping the last consonant. “What a world, huh?” 

Sarah’s eyes wander to the cutting board, where the too-thick zucchini slices are huddled in one corner beside the eggplant. She’s never been any good at cutting things delicately. Little mundanities, she thinks to herself, like a mantra. That’s where the real things live. 

“I was gonna make ratatouille,” she finds herself saying, “for myself.” 

Nyles breathes out with a hum. “Huh. Sounds nice.” 

Sarah swivels back to the phone and looks straight into the camera. “Do you want to come over?”

Nyles has a fiddle leaf fig in his apartment, of which Sarah is violently jealous. That fiddle leaf fig, which is visible in the background, moves more than he does, right then. 

“To,” Nyles says, staring at her with that stupid, wonderful face of his. “To Austin?” 

Sarah shrugs, a little maniacally. “Yeah. Yeah, to Austin. Here. With me. I miss you.” 

Nyles’s expression opens, and opens, and opens. He reaches up and ruffles his hair, also a little maniacally. He’s beaming so wide it wrinkles his nose. 

“Um, yeah, yeah! Okay! Can I bring Fred?” 

Sarah throws out her arm. “Bring Fred!” 

So Nyles brings Fred. At 1 AM the next night a cab drops him off and Sarah runs barefoot down the lawn, braless, shrieking; and she vaults herself into his arms and wraps her legs around his waist and holds. They stumble joyously into the house and fuck on the unmade bed, laughing, half-clothed, touching and touching and touching. And Sarah’s feet are still wet. And her hair is still short. And Nyles still cries when he cums. 





Oh, my. It was so long ago now. So very long. It was at the wedding, you see. For Tala and Abe. They’re so good for each other, don’t you think so? I think he’s so good to her. Anyhow, I was on one of my little walks… one of my little night walks, you know, when I can’t sleep. It gets so hard to sleep. You know, I have a theory about it. I think it’s got to do with your body knowing it’s on its last legs, and wanting to make it count. So it just doesn’t let you. It’s self-preservation, you see. Anyhow, I was on one of my little walks and there was an earthquake! Well, I said, that’s what happens, isn’t it, in California—all those earthquakes! No need to cry Armaggedon over it, just brush yourself off and keep walking! But right there on one of the hills a cave opened up! And there was a light from inside as bright as you ever saw! The next thing I knew, it was the ninth of November again. I was jubilant. Isn’t that a wonderful word, jubilant? Well, that’s what I was. I thought to myself, [subject name redacted], you’ve got a new lease on life. You can know whoever you want to know. Because that’s always what’s so sad, when you’re old and you’re looking back—you wish you’d taken the time to know more people. What’s that, dear? The cave? I don’t quite remember what it looked like… a picture? Here, give it here… oh, oh no. No, dear, that’s not the cave I went into. Must have been a different cave. Anyhow, it was such a nice little walk. Every day I took that little walk. Every single day.





Sarah somehow learns more about Nyles in the first month of living with him than she had in eternities of being stuck in a time loop with him. He likes almond milk on cereal. He cries at commercials for dog food. He sings “Light One Candle” while he does the dishes. He says thoughtful things about her art. He always ends up sleeping on his stomach, no matter what position he starts in. And he can cook. 

“You can cook,” she says, stunned, when she comes home from teaching to find him braising pork loins in her grand aunt’s apron. 

“Yeah, it’s pretty hot of me, I know. Your hair’s really growing back in,” Nyles replies conversationally. He brushes her shaggy bangs with one set of fingers when she comes over to peer at the stove. “You gonna shave it again?” 

“Nah,” Sarah replies, dropping her chin onto his shoulder broad shoulder. “I miss ponytails. I just wanted to, like. See what stuck, you know?” 

“Yeah. I bought a bunch of ugly yellow paint and threw it all over my bedroom. Just to see. When it was still there the next morning…” He pinches his fingers in front of his lips and then releases them. “Mwah. Beautiful.” 

Sarah wonders what he, in turn, has learned about her—what little mundanities he can lay claim to now. How she puts leftovers in the fridge and forgets about them for months. How she keeps every bottle of nail polish she’s ever owned, even when the contents separate. How she doesn’t clean her hair out of the shower drain. How some mornings she wakes up and decides to be a colossal asshole for no reason. 

“You smell like sweetgrass here,” he says now, without prompting. He leans a little closer, his nose brushing her neck. “You didn’t, in there.” 

“Sweetgrass,” Sarah echoes doubtfully. No one had ever paid any attention to how she smells before Nyles. 

“Or, I don’t know. Sarah. Just Sarah.” Nyles leans away again, and in his eyes, Sarah sees the same thing as always—the end of a long road, a place to land. “Not Orchid Explosion. Just Sarah.” 





Ugh, it was that shitbird’s fault. Got me high as a kite and brought me out to some cave in the desert, told me my ancestors were in there. I was lonely and mad and miserable, and, as I mentioned, zooted off my nut, so I went. You know how it is, you lose track of how long you’re in there. It was a whole thing. It was hell. I really did think it was Hell, you know. In the Biblical sense. I mean I wondered. You get so desperate for an explanation, because—well, an explanation means a solution, right? Whatever that is. End of the day figuring out it was some kinda rip in the spacetime continuum is almost anticlimactic. Y’know, you think, Is that all? I find the meaning of life and it’s just because of something like that? Well, fuck me. I killed him a few times, got the anger out. Then I figured acceptance would be more productive. So, really, he gave me some free therapy. Then [redacted] showed up, and oh, man, did she ever change him. Smart woman. Can’t believe that trick with the dynamite worked. But it did. And now I’m getting old. You know my wife told me she loved me today and I told her I loved her back and we both meant it. I just want that on the record. I want that written down.





“Sometimes I still think about doing it,” Nyles pants. 

Sarah’s sweaty forehead is pressed between his shoulder blades, and his broad body is facedown on the bed underneath her, and she feels wild and incredible, thrusting slow in the dark. 

“Doing what?” she asks, barely paying attention. 

“Like I’ll be driving on the freeway and I’ll think, mm,” Nyles tenses up, and then unravels again, “what if I swerved into this Safeway truck? You know? Just to see?” 

Sarah freezes, breathing hard, clenched slick around the strap-on. Her arms are quivering with exertion from holding herself up. She removes her forehead from Nyles’s back, her hair plastered to her temples, and stares at him. 

“You’re telling me this now, Nyles?”

“Well, what better time, right?” 

“What better time to share your suicidal ideation than when you’ve got my dick in your ass?” 

“Well, it’s not strictly your dick, I mean, it’s attached to you—”

“You are a fucking atrocity, man. I’m pulling out.” 

“No, no, don’t pull out!” Nyles whines. “Please, come on—”

Sarah pulls out, and Nyles groans and shudders under her palm when she does. The skin of his back glistens even in the dark. She collapses next to him on the bed, making the mattress bounce. Nyles’s head settles sideways on the pillow, angled at her. 

The air is hot, with that mixed-up sex smell of silicone and some unnameable sweet thing; it lays over them both like Sarah’s arms lay limp over her middle.

“Do you ever think about it?” Nyles asks. 

Sarah glances at him over her nose, brows knotting. “About killing myself?” 

“Yeah.” Nyles’s eyes flit down. All of his earlier flippancy is gone. “Y’know. Like that. Just in case it’s all… a lie, or something.” 

Sarah looks back to the ceiling and gradually catches her breath. She isn’t surprised by the strangeness of these conversations anymore; she’s known Nyles for decades. But sometimes it scares her just how well they understand each other. Sometimes it really freaks her out. 

“Sometimes when the weather’s the same two days in a row I get fucked up,” she admits. “Had a panic attack yesterday morning because the like—like, the sky looked too similar to the day before, you know? No clouds.” 

Nyles nods, his hair whispering against the pillowcase. Fssh-fssh

“But hey, I gained five pounds,” Sarah adds, triumphant. “And one of my plants died.” 

Nyles is the only person she knows who would understand the significance of these things—these things that happen, and cannot be changed or controlled. She rolls over to face him, tucking her hands under her chin, and searches his eyes for a while, neither of them speaking. After a while she reaches up and traces his right eyebrow with her fingertip, smoothing it down. 

“I just think,” Nyles murmurs, “what if I wake up tomorrow, and—and you’ve stopped moving. You don’t remember. I mean, I could deal with everybody else. But you…”

“Well, unless there’s some kind of freakish cosmic event, A, and you walk directly toward it, B, I think we’ll both be fine,” Sarah says. “We did our time, man. It’s over. That’s what I keep telling myself. The chances of it happening again are, like—astronomically low.” 

Nyles’s mouth twitches up. He shifts a little closer, until their noses are touching. 

“My girlfriend the astronaut,” he whispers. 

“Oh my god, how many times do I have to explain this? It’s astrophysics—”

“You got a job offer from NASA!” 

“You know there are employees of NASA who aren’t astronauts, right? It’s important to me that you know that.” 

Then they’re both laughing, and Nyles is pulling her on top of him, and Sarah is kissing her way down his chest and reaching for the lube again. Her middle finger slips into him easy, slow joint by slow joint; his eyes glaze over, his chest rises. She loosens him up and then sinks in again, taking her time, still laughing in that happy accident of a way that she does when she’s turned on. He looks at her the whole time, open-mouthed, unresisting. Sarah, Sarah, he rasps, fingers bunched into the sheets, face twisted up; Sarah. Sarah. 

“If you run into a Safeway truck,” she mumbles into his neck in the afterglow, “you know I’m just gonna have to break time to bring you back.”

Nyles buries his nose in her hair and sighs. He’s holding her a little too close, but Sarah will allow it for a little while longer. She always does. 

“I know you would,” he says. “I know.”





Do I really have to do this? Um… okay, I mean, I’ll try. So… it was November 9, in Palm Springs. I was at this wedding; my girlfriend Misty was one of the bridesmaids, so… I figured it’d be fun. But it wasn’t. It was so, so totally not fun because I saw Misty cheating on me with this guy named Trevor. So I got drunk and went out to the desert in the middle of the night because like that’s what you do when you catch your girlfriend getting dicked down by a beautiful Australian cowboy. And… there was a cave. Walking into that cave got me trapped in a November 9 time loop for, I don’t know. Ten years? At first it was great! Y’know, you don’t get hangovers, you don’t have to go to work, you can get a tattoo of Tom Selleck on your ass… zero consequences. But then it started to sink in. The, like—inevitability of it all. That wasn’t so great. I did some dark stuff in there. I don’t wanna get into it. You lose your mind a little, you know? I sent this guy named [redacted] in there; that was one of the worst things I did. He kept showing up to kill me every now and then for a few years. Then after the anarchy comes the nihilism. You just go. You release everything. And that’s about where I was when, um. When somebody followed me in. 





Therapist #7 tells Sarah that walking can help with depression. Sarah has gotten the exercise lecture before, so at first she’s skeptical. But Therapist #7 specifies walking. Putting one foot in front of the other, and feeling that. So one weekend in July when they both have time off Sarah asks Nyles if he wants to hike River Place with Fred, and he says sure. 

He’s starting to grow his hair out, and now it falls in brownish curls over his forehead. He’s way out of shape, whining along two steps behind her. As they continue on up the path, past the joggers and middle-aged power walkers and usual preponderance of dogs, Sarah starts becoming more aware of the air in her lungs, the weight of her feet. It’s probably a placebo effect, but she’ll take it. 

Finally, dusty and wheezing, they reach the edge of a pond. The water is green and clear, rippling mildly around a waterfall that the summer heat has reduced to a trickle.

Somewhere, there’s a woodpecker. 

“I think I’m gonna quit my job,” Sarah says. 

Nyles, doubled over miserably next to her, coughs. “Go for it.”  

“No, I mean.” Sarah finds that every word and thought coming out of her right then is brand new. “I mean, to do something.” 

Nyles finally manages to straighten up, making an ugly face. He pulls up the bandana tied around his neck to wipe the sweat from his upper lip. Fred weaves eagerly between their legs, sniffing at the dirt. 

“What were you thinking?” 

Sarah takes a deep breath, and lets it out—and tries to feel the truth of the moment: that she and Nyles are sweating, and aging, and dying. And that they had walked here step by step. And that they will walk back, eventually. Eventually.

“I was thinking we can’t be the only people it happened to. Palm Springs, I mean. Events like that—I want to study them. And the people who’ve been through them. Maybe we can save some of them, too.” 

Nyles turns his head, beneath the branches, and stares at her in wonder. That’s how he’s always stared at her, Sarah realizes. From the very beginning. An echo of his speech tugs at her mind right then. Standing on the precipice of something so much bigger than anyone here.

“You know,” she adds quietly. “Like a… a support network. For survivors. To tell them they’re not alone.”

Nyles is nodding. Sarah wouldn’t have needed his approval anyway, but it feels like shining, knowing that she has it. Knowing that they were both born lost, but now—

“Let’s do it,” she says breathlessly. “Let’s fucking—travel the world and find people like us and make it work. You and me. Let’s do it.” 

Nyles shifts from foot to foot—settling into the future, whatever it will be, whatever it will become. He echoes, gentle, “You and me?” 

Sarah smiles, and reaches for his hand, and says the truest thing she has. 

“Let’s do it til we get sick of each other.” 





Hi. So, um… this is weird. I guess I’m interviewing myself? Okay, well, I’m [subject name redacted]. My time loop was in 2020. November 9. I went to my sister’s wedding in Palm Springs, and… I ended up hooking up with this guy who, ugh, it’s a long story, but he went into this glowing cave in the desert and I wanted to make sure he was, you know, safe—and it turned out that this glowing cave was, like, a rift in spacetime. It pulled me in, and… I was stuck in that one day, just repeating over and over, for years. The one good thing was that I wasn’t the only one stuck there. He was there, too. And we—

God… this is so weird. I mean… I already know the story. You already know the story.

But I guess that’s what this is for. So somebody can hear it.