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      No matter how hard she scrubbed, Alice could never keep the green fuzz from taking over Mango Palace. Though built by the Petulant Imperialist only a decade prior, the dilapidated structure appeared pre-Colonial. The forest had consumed it. Flayed it open and devoured it from the inside like an infestation of writhing maggots in rotting meat. Or, more accurately, by mango flies.

      The house had been decaying from a throttle of Cordylobia anthropophaga, a species of blowfly who are the unfortunate inspiration for its namesake. Their existence is only known because they lay their eggs in the wet textiles of its inhabitants. The tiny larvae, nestled in the overlock stitching of a pant cuff or the zigzag of a v-neck hanging to dry outside of the Palace, sense a mammalian warmness at their first skin contact. Swan diving into a pool of flesh, they fully submerge deep within.

      Eventually, the clothed face an unsavory decision: to cut or not to cut. Incise one’s skin and dig the larvae out before the pupating young cause damage or wait until they feast on enough flesh to plumply reach the surface where forceful squeezing can propel them out. The only way to prevent this predicament is to iron the seams of clothes. Sizzling pre-flies in their sleep.

      Every day, in a Sisyphean effort, Alice attempted to thwart the tireless procession of flora and fauna. She ironed every piece of fabric. She traced the building’s contours with a bleach-soaked rag. Alice ran her hand gently over the green velveteen foliage emerging where the floor met the wall before sanitizing it out of existence.

      Chuckling, she remembered asking her mother -- when Alice had learned she was not alone inside her own skin - whether she could keep a larva as a pet when it emerged.  Just one. Please. A lonely child, she hosted tea parties for a thicket of small shrubs on her parents’ farm. She longed then, as she did now, for companionship, even when it might consume her.

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