It is a large rolling green space. There are merchants and activity, but it is not crowded. I have been sent out to gather the dogs. One of them may have ear mites or fleas and so they must all be sprayed. I hunt around, finding one of the black and brown muscular puppies and dropping it into a pail. I find another identical puppy and drop it in on top of the first. They lay there scrunched into a too-small space and let me spray them repeatedly with some type of cure-all. I look around some more but do not see others. I turn back to the pail left on a merchant’s display and find that it no longer has my puppies, but now has three fish tails sticking out of ice. I explain to my boss that someone must have dumped them out and replaced them with fish. He sighs in relief and tells me, “Oh good, I was wondering how you got them to stay upside down like that.”
In search of pups (I know there are several, all identical) I go into a small coffee shop run by Kenyans. My advisor from grad school is there. She tells me that I can come back if I just take this test before Wednesday. She holds up several pieces of paper stapled together. It is a test that I had started years ago and I can already see her markings, her plans to fail me. I tell her that i have no interest in her test. I tell her that I have moved on. She says that she wants me to have a chance. I tell her that she does not. That she gave out several chances to people who were lazy and inattentive but she did not give me a chance. Not a real one. The Kenyans come over and whisper to her that they know I am telling the truth, they can sense it, and that she is stepping beyond her bounds. If she does not stop harassing me, she will no longer be welcome here. I get up and continue my search.
There is a fall in the land. What appears to be large slabs of rock piled hundreds of feet high is actually junk. I slide down, catching my foot on a glossy pink cardboard box on my way down into the warzone. There are families climbing down as well. A family picks up a toy and exclaims “It’s exactly what he wanted!” A boy carefully places his feet in secure places without even taking notice of the tresure of toys surrounding him. I look up at the box that caught my slipping foot. It is a life-size Barbie doll. She looks just like the original, but she is labeled as a princess of some Middle-Eastern place. Her tiara is secretly an odd-shaped wireless mouse perfect for spying. The company was not given rights by Mattel to sell her and so, like what makes up the rest of this place, they threw the discontinued and unsafe toys here at the border between worlds.
I get to the bottom and go into a school. I am granted an interview. The place is dirty and the neighborhood violent, but I want to be doing something. The principal asks me if I can teach math and I admit that I cannot. Only up to 4th grade. Math has never been my thing. He asks about Scoial Sciences and I tell him absolutely, I can. I would love to. I am already flipping pages of books in my head. He nods decisively. I am hired. Just like that. They need male teachers like myself and so I think that they will keep me even if I am not good at first.