The Folly of the World
boat, perhaps regretting his good deed. “Think they tried to do me in on account of my not fitting into their little fucking schemes, that what you think?”
    “I don’t know,” said the fisherman, slowly standing up. “I—”
    “No, you fucking don’t,” said Sander. “So don’t look at me like that, you value your billy-goat eyes, you—where the fuck are you going?!”
    The fisherman didn’t answer, darting to his boat and shoving off into the water. He hopped in without a backward glance, and Sander scrambled up, wondering just what the fuck this so-called fisherman knew, if maybe he had been the one to tow Sander all the way out here in the sunshine, and if he really thought he could get away with the river so languid. But then Sander put his weight on his injured foot and toppled back over.
    He lay cursing in the grass, grabbing his ankle and pulling his leg up to inspect the stinging sole. The cut wasn’t deep, but it hurt like God’s disfavor, the wound starting between his big toe and its neighbor and stretching a finger’s length down. That gave him pause, and by the time he’d remembered the fisherman, the plaguebitch had already nicked off down the river. A perfect time to assess the situation.
    Tunic and breeches? Gone. Boots? Gone. Glory’s End? Gone gone gone, gone as the devil’s graces. At least it was warm, thesun feeling right nice on his pruned skin—that was something. That, and the only real bits of him that hurt, aside from his pounding head, was his foot and the odd eel bite, so again, groots in his favor. And assuming the fisherman wasn’t lying, Sneek was a long way off, meaning the river had taken him far from lynch mobs and Belgians. Again, something. He was famished and needed clothes, but these were minor dilemmas in the overall scheme, and would be righted whenever he found whatever house or village the fisherman had run back to. So yeah, not so bad a state of things, as it went.
    Being careful to step using only the heel of his right foot, Sander began hobbling downstream along the reed-skirted river. It was the direction the fisherman had gone, and if the current had delivered Sander from Sneek, then this was doubly the right direction to travel. As he walked he reflected on the state of the day and reckoned he must be far south indeed, given the warmth and greenness of the fields, which were all gray and dead in Friesland. It was one of life’s sweet wonders, to stroll naked on such an unseasonably warm day, the breeze drying your hair, the sun roasting your bottom, wildflowers tickling your toes even as their fragrance reached your nose… Then Sander paused, the water gurgling, the birds singing, and stared incredulously at the grassy meadowland that stretched to a border of darker green and brown, where a forest ran parallel to the river. Not good.
    Sander resumed walking, limping along even quicker than before, as if he could somehow put distance between himself and the unsettling realization he had come to. Losing a few days for Sander was like losing an hour to daydreaming for anyone else, hardly the sort of thing to read too much into, but this was something else entirely, and boded exceptionally poorly. The farther he walked and the harder he tried to not think about the crocuses and cranesbills he stomped underfoot the more sense it made, in a very tragic sort of way. He came to a willow leaning over the bank, its leaves full and long, and gave a little groan tosee young sparrows wheeling though the branches. It was autumn, late autumn, saints knew, it was probably winter, and they had tried to hang him, and now, immediately after all that, here was some, some
tree
, flaunting its leaves, encouraging these stupid birds to wheel around and chirp as if
that
were acceptable, as if it were spring,
late
spring, as if snow wasn’t imminent, as if…
    Sander sat down in the shade, the spongy loam itching his ass as he dangled his feet in the water. It was shockingly

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