I write to you from 1979 in my parents' aluminum-sided split-level in Derwood, Maryland. Near the cornfields that will be long gone by 2017. My parents' bedroom harbors the previous owner's two-inch shag carpet, matted to dreadlocks in places. The color of blood, after exposure to air. It lends itself well to a harrowing game my brother and I invent, called Lava Monster. More of a battle than a game, we knock each other off our parents' bed into the jaws of the monster roaming the shaggy lava below. Carpet burns, fresh blood, and crying always ensue. But we keep coming back for more, loving the violent pastime like no other. If humans wear our fur on the inside, when they cut me open they'll find that red shag. My brother may never dig a trampoline-sized hole in the ground so we can keep playing. But if our game ever breaks my wrist, I know he will bring out the shovels, take the lava one heap at a time. I'll do the same for him.
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