Snow was everywhere that Friday, in clumps and hills, glassy and metastasized as SUVs, and none of it white. The sky was a bright and affected gray—lit from some unseen light source and not very interesting. People went up and down Sixth Avenue with the word motherfucker in their heads. They felt no emotions, had no sensation of life, love, or the pursuit of happiness, but only the knowledge of being between a Thursday and a Saturday, air and things, this thought and the next, philosophy and action; birth, death, God, the devil, heaven, and hell. There was no escape, ever, was what people felt.

Colin himself was dressed lightly, in dark and enveloping colors. He felt of the same endless machinery and danceless, starless trance of the city at night, if a bit cold. He stood on the perimeter of Washington Square Park, waiting for Dana. They were going to a Leftover Crack show. Leftover Crack was a ska-punk band fronted by a person named Stza; their recent CD was “Fuck World Trade,” Colin knew, as he owned that CD.

Dana crossed the street quickly, as if over water. She wore a yellow beanie, stood with Colin on the sidewalk. They smiled at each other and nothing else happened. The atmosphere was not conducive to talking. Visibility was low because of a fog. In the distance, vague things were falling or rising between the buildings. Bats, flying trash. Werewolves, throwing themselves off of roofs. Dana was holding herself with her own arms, Colin could see. They’d known each other almost four years, beginning with the first college-orientation thing before September 11th, but hadn’t talked really in more than three. A few days ago they’d met on the street and made plans. Tonight Dana’s boyfriend was at a boxing seminar or something, so here she was with Colin.

In the street a car idled by, sideways a little and without its lights on. An unmanned car, lost in the world. It spun slowly around and continued down the street, backwards and twisting.

It began to snow.

“Are you sure want to go to the show?” Dana said.

Colin felt cold. He probably should’ve worn more clothing. The show was in Brooklyn, he knew, and they were in Manhattan. “Um,” he said.

“I want to do something with you still,” Dana said.

Colin looked at her. His eyes were very dry. He could feel his contact lenses there, little walls in front of his eyes. He yawned and Dana went out of focus, a bit diagonal in the air, as if about to travel through time. “When I see a smiley face I feel demented,” Colin said.

“What if beans were alive and they all had smiley faces,” Dana said.

They talked some more like that. Dana seemed to move closer over time, then began to touch Colin’s shoulder sometimes.
* * *
“I’m making a film,” Dana shouted on the train to Brooklyn. “I’m filming tomorrow. Want to be in it?”

“What did you just say?” Colin said. Then realized what she had said. Then the train started screeching and someone began to play a saxophone. Colin told himself to ask Dana about the film later.

Dana shouted something else but Colin couldn’t hear. He saw her mouth move in a laugh. “I’m going in there with white and green,” a little girl screamed, “and you’re going to choose green!” Dana took a paper from her pocket and gave it to Colin. A drawing of two whales.

Colin looked at it and nodded at Dana. She was blushing. She touched her face and grinned. She took back the paper. They got off the train in Red Hook. It was very quiet here. Snow had come down from heaven, swirled around, absorbed all the smoke and dust—all the coppery, spray painted wooziness of a city—and then fallen, thwarted, to the ground, stopped on its way to hell. There was not a deli anywhere, and no buses. A police van was ahead.

“The show is over,” a policeman in the van said. “The concert is canceled.” Colin and Dana kept walking toward the venue, a bit quicker. “Turn around and go home,” the policeman said. “There’s nothing here for you two.”

Colin and Dana turned slowly around.

“Just kidding!” the policeman said. “Hey!”

As Colin and Dana walked by, the policeman smiled at Colin. Because of snow, they had to walk within touching distance of the van. All the cops inside, Colin saw, were distinctly different in body size. Maybe a dozen cops, all in jackets. “Have fun,” the policeman said.

The venue was Polish-owned, had an outside area where kids smoked and where three Polish women—a mom and her daughters—sold hot dogs, vegetarian hot dogs, chips, and an orange drink that was inside a large punch bowl. A hundred or so kids were out here.

Colin thought of saying something. He hadn’t for a while. But he felt very calm, and a little dizzy—felt as if washed out by some sweet, anesthetic water, as he often did. Kids were moving in and out of shadows, being loud or elusive, eating chips or smoking. The bassist for Leftover Crack, Colin recognized, stood alone, eating a hot dog that was not vegetarian, drinking the orange drink.

Dana was looking at Colin.

“I’m taking a vampire class,” she said. “We just watch vampire movies.”

Something black and warped was rippling through Colin’s head, little voids, and he couldn’t concentrate. Probably it was unacceptable to be distracted in this way, he knew, by nothing—by nothingness. It took him a minute or two to respond. “Is Bram Stoker a vampire?” he said.

“Bram Stoker,” Dana said. “Are you one? A vampire.”

“Yes,” Colin said. Leftover Crack’s bassist was looking down into his orange drink. “I was a cat when I was five for Halloween,” Colin said. “I wore a cape.” A cat from three to eleven, then a boy with a ghoul mask, then nothing. Halloween quickly became mostly for vandalism. No one dressed up anymore, just destroyed property, attacked one another openly and in teams. It was a different world back then. There were a thousand different worlds in the world, Colin knew, and each morning you woke with longings for new and requited love. The longing was loyal only to its own cause. You yourself had no cause and seemed, at times, to be simply the effect of something. Fixed, unstoppable. Existing by momentum only, but pretending always otherwise.

“That’s good for five,” Dana said. She touched his elbow. “Colin, you were a vampire cat.”

“Look at the bassist.” Colin extended his arm out straight and pointed, startling himself in a dull and private way—he hadn’t meant to point like this. Some kids saw Colin pointing and looked. The bassist noticed and moved the hot dog down to his side, held it there like it wasn’t a hot dog, but something insurgent—a microphone or pipe bomb.

Dana laughed. “You’re embarrassing him!”

She slowly pulled Colin’s hand down.

“There aren’t enough songs against McDonald’s,” Colin said. “There should be a song called ‘Fuck McDonald’s.’” He felt suddenly excited and looked directly into Dana’s face. He was not afraid. There was her face. At night it would move through his vision, colorless and behind the eyes, like a phantom, floating bird—a hood of wings, folding away. “Do you…are you okay?”

“Yes,” Dana said. “Are you?”

“Yes,” Colin said. “I feel…something.” He looked away. Leftover Crack, he knew, had a song called “Fuck America”—it had begun to play in his head. It was catchy. It had rhyming couplets.
McDonald’s will bloom as the major competition
Between Jesus and the Devil for this government’s religion
People so caught up in the freedom that they see
While America’s fucking over every single country

Something Something Chorus Something

Fuck America
Fuck America
Fuck America
Fuck America

Dana was talking about if she were Bill Gates. “I would do things about McDonald’s,” she was saying. “I could end the McDonald’s corporation somehow. With Windows software.”

Colin didn’t feel excited anymore. He felt drugged and indifferent. Something depressed and on drugs had moved through him; had been watching him, from a distance, and had now come and moved through him.

“I’ll sell them faulty windows that would keep breaking,” Dana was saying. “So their restaurants will look bad. When they sue me I’ll bribe the Supreme Court. I’ll give them supercomputers. I like supercomputers. I want to take care of them.”

Colin wondered if Dana talked this way to her boyfriend. He knew nothing about Dana’s boyfriend. Except that his name was Tyson, and all Colin could ever think was Mike Tyson. Colin didn’t know much about Dana anymore. They had talked a lot at first, years ago, that first August before school, before September 11th—walking up and down Manhattan, side to side, through parks—but Colin couldn’t remember specifics unless he tried very hard, and he didn’t feel like trying that hard.
* * *
Leftover Crack had a history of inter-band disputes. At a show Colin attended the guitarist had left the venue after Stza became depressed and smashed his guitar—the body snapping quietly from the neck, as if willingly—and sang a few songs lying flat on his back. Another time, at CBGB, a few months after September 11th, the guitarist had on a fawn-colored sweater over a crisp white shirt and had said, in a sincere way, that he was proud to be an American, that it really moved him how everyone had come together. Then Stza had said that September 11th was the greatest day of his miserable life. Then they had played “Stop the Insanity (Lets End Humanity)” or something.

On stage now Leftover Crack’s bassist walked to his bass, picked it up, strapped it on, and stood waiting for the others. His face was expressionless and he did not move his eyes, mouth, or legs. His shirt said “NO-CA$H.” The guitarist was asking the crowd for beer. Someone passed up a shiny blue plastic cup, but it wasn’t beer.

“Somebody pass this fucker a beer,” Stza said.

“If I don’t get a beer,” the guitarist said. “I’ll put my guitar down, smoke some crack, drink a forty. Seriously, I don’t care.” He had just done a set with his own band; he had his own band.

“We all know, dude,” Stza said. “We all know.”

They played “Gay Rude Boys Unite (Take Back the Dance Hall),” their anti-homophobia song, “Money,” their anti-money song, “Life is Pain,” their anti-breeding song, and “Suicide (A Better Way),” their pro-suicide song. Behind them, against the wall, was a large upside-down American flag with a pentagram drawn over it in black marker. In the corner was a little silvery “666.”

Colin and Dana stood to the side, back a little. Both had toilet paper packed in their ears. About ten songs in Dana pushed Colin toward the middle and front. They were squished, were pushing forward and screaming the lyrics, and then Colin fell back into a circle-pit area, was okay for a while, moving quick and unharmed, but then was elbowed some place and smacked in the side by someone’s fat, hard body. He fell to the ground, which was cool and sticky. Kids picked him up. “My shoe,” Colin said. Kids began to search for his shoe. Then someone was slapping Colin’s cheek with his shoe and giving him his shoe. Colin saw some yellow and pushed up front. Stza was dancing something like a jig on stage, rapping, “incarcerate the youth of the next generation / and you get the high-fives at the police station.” Colin screamed the lyrics for a few songs. Leftover Crack played “Born to Die,” their usual closer—“just can’t escape the lying / moment we’re born we’re dying”—and immediately after that the venue people turned on the lights. The house music was death metal. Colin found Dana and they stood around for a while. They used the bathroom. They wandered to the outside area where a girl was interviewing Stza.

“Alright,” the girl was saying. “So what’s the point of what you’re doing? What do you hope to gain?”

“Well, the point…” Stza said. “Actually we’ve pretty much done everything I had hoped to do. I wanted to be in a band, I wanted people to come to our shows. I didn’t have a lot of friends growing up and I wanted to meet people… see, I’m really shy, and I just can’t walk up to people and talk to them. I feel like a total jerk. But if kids come up to me and talk I can just talk back.”

“Is this the one important thing about the band… that you are going to extremes just because you’re making a point of free speech?”

“That’s one of the things,” Stza said. “But it’s not the only reason I say some things. I mean a lot of the things I say. I joke about a lot of things. But only half joking.”

“Is that why you have satanic imagery on your website? To be offensive?”

“Yeah, yeah. I mean, I’m an atheist. I like satanic art, I think it’s pretty… I’m not a Satanist, but if you read the Satanic Bible, a lot of it is just common sense, really. It’s not about hurting people, it’s about freedom and autonomy.”

One of the Polish women—the mom—was watching and had been moving closer and was now standing next to Stza. She asked about some beers that were sitting on a fence. “I wonder whose they are,” she said. There were three beers.

“Don’t know. You can have them,” Stza said.

“No; you should have them. They’re not mine.”

“Thank you,” Stza said.

“I wish someone would have them so they wouldn’t just be sitting there.”

“I’m sure someone will have them,” Stza said.

“Okay. Goodbye.” She turned to leave.

“Goodbye,” Stza said. “Well, you know, I eat out of the garbage, so…”

The polish woman turned back around. “What?” she said.

“I eat out of the garbage, so it doesn’t matter,” Stza said. “A lot of kids do, so they’ll drink the beers.”

“I don’t think they’re garbage, I think they’re sealed cans, just over there—look.”

“I’ll go check it out if it makes you happy,” Stza said.

“Just chuck them over the fence into that garden.”

“No! That’s wrong,” Stza said. “I don’t believe in littering. This is such a pretty place.”

“But someone might use them to throw at people’s windows.”

“They’re empty aluminum cans, that’s not going to break a window. I know these things.”

“He’s too smart for me,” the woman said to Colin and Dana. She smiled at Colin. “Oh,” Colin said, and looked away. Dana was holding his hand, he saw. “Will you put them in the bin for me then?” the Polish woman said. “They worry me.”

“Alright,” Stza said. “When we go back we have to go back that way—so we will.” He looked around. The little girl with the orange hair was gone.

“Thanks,” the woman said, “you’re an angel.”

“Thank you. An angel of death.”
* * *
Outside the venue the sky was a distinct brown. Kids pointed at it. There were clouds but those were brown too. Groups of people stood around. No one wanted to go home. Colin walked around a little and soon couldn’t find Dana. He stood in one place, looking and shivering, feeling an unpleasant and comprehensive longing for tonight; it was a thousand years later and Colin was thinking back, remembering—regretting everything. But he would not be alive in one thousand years, he knew. He would be…alone or something. He felt a little confused. He saw Leftover Crack’s bassist running away, sprinting down the block, slowing to a walk, turning a corner. Then a girl was asking Colin his name. “Colin,” Colin said. “Hi,” the girl said. She had round eyes and a very thin, silver hoop in her nose. “I’m Maura. Do you want to eat Chinese food with my friends Frank and Donnie?”

Dana walked up.

Maura introduced herself again. They talked about a building across the street, then buildings in general. What if they got so tall that they broke off into outer space? “You aren’t alone and feeling bad… feeling alone,” Maura said after a while to Colin. “You two are together.” She gazed at them.

The moon was fuzzy and it looked like it had snowed there too, or else it was a large piece of snow, falling slowly, carefully, in an orbit.

“You two aren’t very curious,” Maura said.
* * *
At the Chinese restaurant Maura had an idea that everyone should spend all their money tonight. They had found a homeless person on the train and he was here with them too—a short, bearded man who hadn’t said anything. They put their money together, a little over a hundred dollars. Maura brought the cash to the large Chinese woman at the cashier and asked her to order for them, and keep twenty percent for tip.

Dana’s cell phone rang. It was her boyfriend.

She said that she was going to go now, and stood.

Colin wasn’t thinking that he would not ever see Dana again after tonight. He didn’t think of that until after Dana had left. It was later, now, that Colin realized: when Dana was standing by the table, a few minutes ago, looking, she was waiting for him to stand, so that they could say goodbye or something, exchange phone numbers maybe, but Colin had sat there staring blankly at something—thinking about Dana’s film, about asking her where to meet tomorrow, if she was just being nice, then about how nice and mysterious it was that Dana had held his hand earlier—and then she had leaned down, hugged him, and left.

“I wonder if Stza masturbates to celebrities,” Frank was saying. “What about to 9/11? I don’t like it when people say that. Nonsexual things don’t do that. I don’t know.”

“He probably masturbates to the idea of masturbating to 9/11,” Donnie said. “He’s one step ahead like that. That’s how people are. There’s like five steps, and you know what kind a person you are by what step you’re on.”

Frank had a worried facial expression. "I don't know," he said.

Maura was leaned over the table, her head low, gazing up at Colin with a vulnerable expression. “Are you offended?” she said.

Colin shook his head no.

“You’re crestfallen,” Maura said.

“I’m not,” Colin said.

“Crestfallen,” Donnie said. “Nice. I like that. Romantic.”

“What if Stza saw a slide,” Frank said. “Like a playground slide. In a field somewhere. And he was alone and no one was watching—would he do it?”

“I want to eat food,” Donnie said. He looked off to the side at something.

“He would,” Frank said.

“I feel hungry,’” Donnie said.

“Osama bin Laden,” Maura said. Her head lay on its side, on her arms, on the table. Her eyes were closed. “I feel so alone when I close my eyes and talk. I hear my voice and everywhere else is sad music, like, behind me.” She began to hum, very quietly, “La-la-mm-mm-la, ah-ah-mm…”

“Did she say sad music or sadistic music?” Donnie said. He put his hand in the air. “Give me five,” he said to Frank. “Give me a high-five for what I just said.”

Frank looked at Donnie. “I wonder if bin Laden ever gets depressed,” he said. “I’m serious. I think about this a lot. Depressed people… are depressed. I think Bin Laden and George Bush are always grinning on TV. People should think about this.”

There was a metal rod inside of Colin. The rod went from his stomach to the middle of his head. It was made of steel and sugar, and had been dissolving inside of Colin for ten or fifteen years, slow and sweet, above and behind his tongue; and he could taste it in that way, like an aftertaste, removed and seeping and outside of the mouth. Sometimes he’d glimpse it with the black, numb backs of his eyes. But what he really wanted was to wrench it out. Cut it up and chew it. Or melt it. Bathe in the hard, sweet lava of it.

Their food came. Three dishes, then three more, then a pot of something murky and deep. The large Chinese woman sat down with them. Maura sat up, opened her eyes, asked the Chinese woman about getting more homeless people to come help eat. The Chinese woman laughed and shouted something and the waiter left the restaurant on a bike.

The short homeless man was eating and so was Colin, but no one else.

“My phys-ed teacher-person called me ‘homeslice’ yesterday,” Frank said. “What is that? I mean why did he do that? He kept doing it.”

“He probably said he needed to go home and slice some pizza,” Donnie said. “I’m going to go home, slice some pizza.”

“No,” Frank said. “He was like, ‘Frank, homeslice, get over here and do twenty push-ups.’”

“You should have told him to go fuck himself then stayed where you were, doing zero push-ups,” Donnie said.

“I feel depressed,” Frank said.

“Do you know?” Maura said to Colin. “What is a homeslice? You’re older than us. You’re wiser.”

“Crestfallen,” Donnie said.

Colin looked up and shook his head. Blood moved disproportionately through his head, like a water and a syrup both. He concentrated on eating a piece of vegetable. It wouldn’t fit in his mouth and he concentrated on that.

“You seem hungry,” Maura said.

Frank began to eat rice.

“I’m going to eat a lot of food tonight,” Donnie said. He stared at Colin, who was looking down, at all the vegetables he had moved onto his plate. There was a carrot, a mushroom, a pile of baby corn, and an enormous green thing.

Frank stood. “I’m going to the bathroom to vomit,” he said, and went there.

The waiter came back with his bike and three other people—his twin; a tall, bearded man; and a tiny, wrinkled, peanut-colored woman. They pulled up another table and sat down.

“These are gargantuan,” the short homeless man said. He held his bowl up to the light and everyone looked. It was a normal-sized bowl.

The tall man was sitting by Colin, and now stood.

“Thank you, sir,” he said to Colin, and sat.

Colin said something shocking yet compassionate, but he wasn’t sure what exactly—or if, even, as he didn’t hear his own voice and also had been thinking about something completely else.

“Thank you, Colin,” the short man said.

“Thank you, Colin, sir,” the tall man said.

The tiny, wrinkled woman was smiling very pleasantly. She had a small teacup in front of her. The waiter’s twin had on a “NASA” hoodie and was talking to Donnie. “We lived in Seattle and wrote four film scripts each, eight in total. We have a shared identity but also distinct and individual goals and needs. Well, what do you think?”

Frank came back. His face and hair were wet, his eyes were unfocused, and his seat was taken. He stood there a while, then focused his eyes and sat alone at an adjacent table.

“You’re trying to say something,” Maura said to the tiny, wrinkled woman, who was moving her lips in an unhurried, fishlike way. Some spit got onto her chin and she coughed a few times. Little coughs, like drops of water. Finally she very clearly said, “What are your movies about?” She did not have an accent. They were all looking at her.

“That depends,” the waiter’s twin said. “Wait… do you mean plotwise? Wait,” he said loudly.

They all continued looking at the tiny woman. She was very wrinkled. She began to cough again, then knocked over her teacup, which was filled with something not easily describable. It wasn’t tea. There was food in it, and a small mound of sugar or something. “Oh shit,” she said without agitation. She stood and walked out of the restaurant.

“I think what she meant?” the waiter said, looking at his twin. “Was overall, as in what are our preoccupations?”

“Life,” the twin said quickly. He stared at his brother, the waiter. “What, you don’t think so? I hesitated earlier. I shouldn’t have. We’re different.”

Maura stood. “Let’s go help her,” she said, and pulled Colin up.

It was snowing outside. Colin felt cold, but in a stony way. He was a marble statue, unearthed after a hundred million years—fascinating. The old woman stood on the corner, small and shoulderless as a penguin. The wind lifted her hair above her head in the shape of a flame

“We’ll each hold one of her arms,” Maura said. They went and did that.

Maura leveled her face with the woman’s and asked where they were going, then positioned her ear directly in front of the woman’s mouth. Maura’s nose ring was very bright. Colin stared at it and could hear it shining. It was a noise like a happy person waking from a nap—continually waking.

The woman pointed across the street at a McDonald’s.

As they crossed the street Colin couldn’t see well. Snow moved elaborately toward his face, in curlicues and from below. But he felt that he could hear better. He could hear their six shoes against the snow.
* * *
Inside McDonald’s it was very warm. They sat in a booth by the entrance. The woman said she wanted an Oreo McFlurry, but had no money.

“You don’t need money,” Maura said. “Don’t move.” She stood and went to the back, to the ordering counter.

The woman began to shiver. Colin took off his jacket and put it on her back. She touched her ears. “It’s cold here,” she said. “These places.” She touched her forehead and eyebrows.

Colin pulled the jacket up, covering her head completely. It looked like it put an uncomfortable weight on her neck. Colin slid in close, right next to her, and held the jacket up a little.

The woman said something about moving to the Florida Keys. “I think I’ll go by plane,” she said. “Then maybe I will live in a hut on the beach.” She stopped talking. After a while she coughed.

“Oh,” Colin said.

“I think everyone’s doing something,” the woman said. “I don't want to anymore. I don’t want to communicate at the speed of light on Mars.” She began to make noises like two or three hamsters squeaking. Colin leaned over to look at her face, but it was just a shadow under the jacket, an abyss. “What did you do yesterday?” she said.


“Sing,” she said.


“I like sleep,” she said. “I wonder if I would be happy if I slept more. I don't think I should say that. But what should I say? It’s too late to say anything.”

“It’s… what time is it?” Colin said inaudibly.

Maura came back holding a McFlurry with ice cream smeared on its outside. A McDonald’s manager was following her and she set the McFlurry down and sat opposite the woman and Colin.

The manager stood by the booth. “None of you have money?” he said. He was extremely tall. He stared at Colin. “I believe that. I’m not self-righteous. Listen,” he said. He stared at Colin without blinking. “Okay. Listen. ‘From anyone who takes away your coat, do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you, and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again.’ ‘Students of Buddha should not take pleasure in being honored, but should practice detachment…’” He continued on like that.

Colin’s eyes were very dry. He was staring back at the manager, wide-eyed, and when he finally blinked, both his contact lenses crinkled and fell out, onto his cheeks. He brushed them quickly off his face.

The manager stopped talking and affected a sudden, neutral expression. He stared at Colin’s contact lenses that were on the table.

“Do you need something for those?” the manager said slowly. “Yeah. I think you need solution to clean them now. Now that they’re dirty.”

“It’s good to not wear them sometimes, for a change,” Maura said. “Once a year… week.”

They were all looking at the contact lenses, which were squirming a little, slowly unfolding.

The woman made a strange, low-pitched noise.

Colin brushed at the contact lenses until they fell off the table. He was blushing hard and sweating a little in some places. He rested his hands in his lap and felt them there—light as gloves, gentle and dead as birds.

The manager took from his pocket a colorful wad of Monopoly money, then put it quickly back in his pocket, then took a five-dollar bill from another pocket. “Here,” he said. He put it on the table, looked at it, flattened it out. “That’s five… real dollars.” He smiled. He smiled less after a while, then renewed his smile, then left.

“People can be so nice,” Maura said. She was looking at the woman. “Maybe you shouldn’t eat that. I think you’re hyperventilating.”

The woman moved the McFlurry into the dark area below the jacket where her head was.

Maura climbed over the table and set the side of her head lightly against the woman’s back and closed her eyes. “I’ve wanted to ask about your friend Dana,” she said after a while. It was snowing very hard outside, snow was flying against the glass then vanishing. Everything else outside was black. “What do I want to know?” Maura said. “I don’t know. Something.” She began to hum very loudly.

Colin had been thinking about the week after September 11th, had been thinking about that for a long time—but wasn’t anymore. He wasn’t thinking anything anymore. He was the effect of some inception. There was the first thing, and then so on, all the rest being effect, and there was nothing Colin could do about that. If he was going to feel this way, then he was going to feel this way. Feelings were a part of the effect too. The effect was everything, and forever. It couldn’t be changed or gotten out of.

But Colin wasn’t thinking or feeling any of this, really.

It was all just there, in him—what he’d think or feel if he were to.
* * *
September 11th, that Tuesday, Colin had called Dana’s room and left a message. He called again the next day and left another. It was the second week of college and Colin didn’t know anyone. He spent that week lying awake in his room, listening to music, not eating much. Mostly just thinking about Dana. Waiting for her call.

By Friday Colin had convinced himself that Dana hadn’t called because she had left the city; a lot of people had—his roommate had. Though, really, he wasn’t sure, as he’d been thinking about when they last hung out. They hadn’t had fun really—not nearly as much as at first—and hadn’t made plans. But then maybe she had just left the city.

It wasn’t until a few months later—after Dana met her boyfriend—that Colin found out she had been across Washington Square Park all that week; she hadn’t left, hadn’t called.

But that was later.

On Friday Colin could still feel a little less lonely thinking about Dana.

That night they were showing movies for free at Union Square and Colin went. There were many homeless people, all of them alone. No one wanted to sit by a homeless person—with their puffy, Godless coats; their animal largeness—but then every seat filled, and some people had to. Colin was a little dazed, watching this, and had stopped, for a time, feeling sorry for himself, but for everyone else—everything. The movie was about a teenager who felt sad and confused. Outside, the streets were closed to cars. People walked on them. Missing-person flyers were taped over ads and poles. It was very quiet without cars. Colin felt vast and disembodied; it was the same tired and endless feeling everywhere, he felt, inside of him and out—in the stung and ashen air, the buildings tall and pale as apparitions, the strange and lowered sky. Colin didn’t want to go back to his room. He walked around for a very long time, looking down at the sidewalks and streets, and thought of the things he and Dana might say to each other if she were with him. And every once in a while he would catch himself smiling and laughing a little, and it was those moments right after—as, having lapsed into fantasy, there was a correction, a moment of nothing and then a loose and sudden rush, back into the real world in a trick of escape, as if to some new place of possibilities—that he felt at once, and with clarity, most exhilarated, appreciative, disappointed, and accepting.