With one hand I was stirring a gallon of pink paint. I put my whole arm in to break up clots at the bottom with my fingers. Happiness came and went as I stirred the paint. Heavy black snow made of human beings began to seep into the ground. An hour later I was still sitting there, after the gallon had been mixed and taken away. No one ever told me what they did with the paint. My arm was still covered in it. It was resting on my lap now, with the thick paint drying to a crust and leaving chalky pink stains on my pants. I brushed at them halfheartedly with my other hand a few times to try and clean them off, but the chalky scabs came away and there was fresh wet paint under them. I wiped it on the side of my chair until it felt dry. As I sat there, I noticed a coolness in my mouth, almost as if there were an ice cube in it. It started as a cold ridge down the middle of my palate and spread out from there. I felt a calm certainty and an inner harmony radiating from that spot. Then I shifted my weight a little bit and the feeling went away. When it was time for me to go I crossed the bridge and went toward the bend in the path where I could see the sun going down. I was supposed to meet a friend of mine there so that the two of us could walk home from work together. A few minutes later my friend arrived, looking a little bit uncomfortable. He kept glancing around from side to side and scratching at the back of his neck. We started walking, but there was an unnatural tension between us, and when I asked him what was wrong he said that on the way here he had died by the side of the road and just now come back to life. He said he had no idea how it happened, or what could have brought him back from the dead. He said he’d been walking to meet me at the bend as usual when he saw something lying in a ditch, thinking at first that it was a pile of clothes someone had dropped there by accident. When he bent down to get a closer look he saw it stirring slightly, moving back and forth, rustling the leaves. Then it started turning, in a circular motion–with difficulty at first, then more smoothly–and he became frightened, because at that moment he was convinced that someone had snuck up behind him while he was distracted. When he spun around, though, he saw nothing, just dust hanging in the orange light. He stood there for a moment. As warmth colored the branches he could feel all around him the emptiness left behind by whatever passed through that space before. That’s when he fell backward into the ditch, unable to get out. In the darkness, he saw a massive river of sand. People knelt at the edge of it, dipping their hands into it as it rushed by, leaning down to gather it against their chests, weeping. In the middle of the night he heard a woman pass by the ditch. She had a cat walking with her, and every once in a while he heard the woman whisper something to the cat. Then for a long time he saw and heard nothing. He stopped feeling his back against the bottom of the ditch. During this time he couldn’t perceive or think or imagine anything. Then he had the vision that he was walking along the path with me, but I always stayed a few paces ahead, and wouldn’t look at him. When we came out of the woods we were thirsty, so we stopped at a gas station just outside of town, in a place where everything was called “crow.” When we opened the door and went inside it was “crow”. To get something to drink was “crow,” too, as well as the drink itself, and even the thirst we felt “crow.” Each of us went to the cooler and took out a bottle of water. My friend wandered around the store for a while with his water looking for a clerk and almost getting so caught up in it that he forgot about where he really was. Meanwhile, I was on the other side of the store, examining a rack of baseball hats. I had taken one of the hats off the rack and was staring into the lining. Then I took another one down and turned it inside out, as if to compare the two. When my friend came over to ask what I was doing I still wouldn’t look at him; I looked off to the side when I answered him, saying that I couldn’t figure out how much the hats cost. He told me that we could decide that later. Then he said if we really wanted the hats we could try putting a little bit of money down on the counter while the clerk wasn’t looking; if he wasn’t content with what we gave him, all he had to do was ask for more from us, and if he was, then he could just take the money for himself and we’d be free to go off into the darkness again. I didn’t say anything in response to this. I was distracted by a man on the floor of the gas station writhing on his back with his limbs in the air. He kept twisting and flailing as though he were falling, and letting out little yelps of terror. I turned to my friend and said You know what? Let’s not go home after all. Let’s go back on that path and look for the woman who was following us earlier. He didn’t want to go, though, and so I went by myself, and I found her, and when we were alone I heard her say, “You’ll burn a hole in yourself, like you always do!” She didn’t say it to me, though; she said it to herself, while looking back over her shoulder at a field of massive crystals.