Lin Page 12
anything to them, even if the only interchange between them is a shared glance, a half-formed smile. He has spent far too long in the wilderness of empty train cars, the numbing silence aboard an airplane with all occupants asleep and snoring in their seats, their necks jutting back at uncomfortable angles.

Near the end of his unsatisfying sojourn he pays a visit to the annual summer fair, held in the expansive fields a few miles outside town. Simple carnival rides have been set up, including a chair attached to bungee cords that plummets nearly a hundred feet before snapping back up, the occupant doing cartwheels, squealing with fear. He debates taking the ride for a moment, but only a moment, because he has grown too accustomed to smooth, ever-flowing transport, hurtling on at such an even pace that one would scarcely believe one was moving save for the most subtle of ripples across the surface of his water

glass. Compared to that, the bungee chair's jarring of time and space seems like a descent into endless black.

As he continues to wander through the fair, the air crisp with incoming autumn, the skies darkening as if welcoming the death of another season, he feels affection for the Far North for the first time. People here are stocky and well-fed, perhaps taking their cue from the bears who must load up on hundreds of thousands of berries per day, storing up for the long winter. This is something else he cannot imagine; his life is built on a strict regimen of diet and movement, no alterations or sine-wave curves allowed.

In a converted barn, the winning entries in a vegetable-growing contest are lined up side-by-side on fold-out tables, and as the fair is already one week old, the unmistakable scent of decay spreads like a virus. A grand