The whole world looks like sucked candy. Hard candy, pitted with holes, softening under a rough tongue. The cathedral dissolves in the rain, collapses into sludge and drifts in the gutter. The soft gutter. The sticky road.

Gretel breathes. In for a count of three, hold, let it out slowly. It isn’t working. Her feet sink into warm fudge. She panics, she always does, can’t help it. In her deepest unconscious she has never left the gingerbread house. She is still there, licking the walls.

Compulsively, she checks her pockets for crumbs. But she has left them at home, on the instructions of her therapist. Trust in reality, he said. But how can she? Even he admits, the grim Herr Doktor, that reality is a confection, no a construction, no, confection is right; it’s all in their minds, in their mouths, did he say? Reality is a confection in the mouth.

Would it hurt to break off a little in her hand, a little to eat? The soft, chewy corner of a road sign, or the wing mirror of a shiny toffee car. You can’t eat this world, says Herr Doktor, leaning on his striped candy cane. But finally, Gretel thinks, she must. Even this world, dry and hard and sour, metal and concrete and dirt; in the end she will eat it all. Every last bite.

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