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She dreams sometimes: dreams of swirling galaxies and balls of fire; dreams of a glowing room with twisted columns like an overgrown piece of coral; dreams of strange places and strange faces and strange tongues, a universe filled with all the wonders of creation.

And sometimes, she dreams that she has some place in that universe—that she’s intelligent. That she’s powerful. That she’s confident, worthy, competent; that she’s valuable and that she can help.

She can make a difference.

Sometimes, amidst the backdrop of a million textures and colors and sights and wonders, she hears a buzzing sound and catches a spark of blue out of the corner of her eye. She glimpses a pair of twinkling brown eyes before they blink and disappear. And she runs, chasing a grin—runs and runs until her legs give out and she’s staring over the edge of the cosmos, and then she collapses and falls into the darkness while the sound of time itself gasping drowns her.

“Donna, are you still in bed? Get up; you’ll be late for work!”

She opens her eyes.

And she forgets, as a river forgets the touch of stone that lines its banks.