Chapter 1

Chapter one seems like an odd place to start, but Riley is starting over. Again.

The storm she created abruptly ended today. What slowly came to be over the last four years disintegrated in less than a week and the last pieces left with a final gust of wind as Tracy’s words punctured the heart held by the little girl in her soul.

Imagination as a source of survival is a curious phenomenon.

“I need you to slow down.” Tracy says, Riley’s therapist of three years and nine months.

Riley stared just left of the laptop screen, seeing nothing and everything at once as reality began to steal the last bits of the magical land her brain invented, trying to hold on.

Tracy broke the silence. “What’s happening in your head, I know it’s not quiet right now?”

I can’t possibly explain. You won’t get it, Riley thought, as her heart twisted and the world she’d created crumbled, exposing reality.

Cement bricks piled up in her stomach as she searched for words and tried to make sense of what was happening. No one will ever understand this. Heartbroken, she said goodbye to a screen that used to be a physical person she loved with the fury only a child gives.

Riley wasn’t going to ever be allowed to use the land she escaped to to survive, because it only worked when she believed it was real.

Nothing she knew was real, and everything real was nothing she knew.


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