Riley remembers being born. He remembers being adrift at the bottom of a lake, and the light on the surface being far away and quiet. He remembers watching fish move like ghosts between him and the sunlight. Every sound was muted and far off. He’d listen to the voices, just barely understanding that there were words, but they soothed him just the same. He remembers sleeping so peacefully and drifting forever in the warm darkness.

Then the lake got smaller and smaller and started crushing him. He felt claustrophobic. He swam to the surface where the sun was getting ever larger. Many hands broke the surface, grabbed him and hung on tight. They pulled him out of the water, and everything burned. He screamed. He screamed for the cold and the light on his skin and the many hands clutching at him.

Then everything was calm again. He remembers being rocked gently as if he were drifting like a boat on the water. He remembers a voice singing his name to him. He remembers being loved. He remembers opening his eyes and seeing an angel holding him. She was the most beautiful thing he could imagine. And then she was gone. She moved like a bird and rushed straight at him and into his head. And then he was lying naked on a bed, alone, eyes squeezed tight so as to not let anything else in. That was the last person Riley ever saw.

He still sees her sometimes. He goes out into the fields at night after the house is quiet and he walks until the horizon is all the same shape. He lies flat on his back and unties the bandana that he always wears over his eyes to keep everything out, and he lets the night air move over his lightly closed eyes. He lies there all night and watches the stars move through his eyelashes. He knows that if he turns his head, she’d be lying beside him, mouth moving as if she’s trying to say three words over and over, but her voice is distant, muted by water. He can never hear what she's saying, but it’s enough to know that he’s not alone.