By the time you read this, ten or twenty ghosts will have spirited through the spaces around your hidden toes. They come each night, seek cool refuge in the lake you dip yourself into like a brush. You too seek the safety of emptiness, washing from your hair the cakes of grease and flour from a day by the stove, a day filled with commands from customers and cooks alike. You like to slip away when heat from their bodies presses round you, a cool reptile whose temperature must not be disturbed. You fit through cracks, in closets, corners, no one else sees or cares to explore: when you were five, you found yourself falling down a dumbwaiter shaft and loving it, not sure why you’d been warned against melding yourself with air itself. Even the thud at the bottom shook your bones less than it might have, under the circumstances. You’ve always been someone who prefers raw feeling to reality. Slip your dishwasher’s smock on the kitchen floor, follow the moon that wells up outside. Leave the oven door open to cool like clay in the chill desert night. The head chef will find it full of lizards soon, their tiny eggs laid before being shut and breathed fire on like antique dragons. Hush of bare feet against the shore, you slide into glorious mud and murk and let the lake take you in breath by breath. The ghosts of bats and who-knows-who escape their moors and escalate, whip overhead like plastic bags, then sink, exhausted, to the dark beneath your feet, whisper for you to join them tonight.

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