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what he had become to please her. He crawled through the mud toward her with tears and desperate anticipation for the end. Still, she looked at him with her head tilted and amusement in her big, dark eyes. When her hand finally wrapped around his, Joey felt a moment of panic break through his misery. She held tight though, and he could not pull away. At the water, she led him in just far enough that he needed to crawl through the muck and reeds. No frogs sang now. No whirring bugs buzzed. There was only the sun dancing on the scummy water and her hand wrapped around his in a grip that he could not break.

     A stump stood, lonely, rotting, and covered in scaly fungus at the tip of a finger of boggy land jutting into the pond. The girl with the eel’s tail stopped before they re...

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