For the first few weeks Annie still clings to delusions of hygiene, and sometimes is so conscious of her skin—the rind of sweat, the sticking density of her hair—that she thinks wistfully of a fire. Hot water, that’s all she wants; hot water and a place to stand that isn’t crawling with semianimate dust. But there are no fires in the forest except the ones that spring up after lightning, and her host family, technologically adept in many ways, pull faces when she brings it up: they assure her that she smells lovely, like rotting oak, and won’t she have another gilled mushroom? Hahaha! Once her stomach gets used to raw fungi and little berries like jewels, the food is only terrible, but she remains wary about things directly offered. The Anwyn’s sense of fun favors laxatives over jokes.
SHRIEKS AND DIES