Three girls, maybe eight each, lean over a pothole of water, stirring with sticks. It’s hard to tell, because they’re frozen, although it’s summer. They’re looking into the water together, with their sticks. Dim oils sketch the surface like lines from skating. One girl, the one in the middle, from this angle anyway, has a piece of grass between her teeth, and she’s grimacing. The end of the blade has fluffy seeds, and normally it’d be bobbing in the breeze. In this apocalypse, the air, it seems, can move, though nothing in it can. Where do you draw the line? Even seeds that could drift like smoke stick, no logic in it. Especially with pages accumulating, time continuing to pass. The girl on the supposed left is turning to dust as we speak, but invisibly, like a figure made of icing going stale, touch her and poof.

I know what they were doing. The girls were playing “three witches.” They were making magic. They were poking their stew. They kept meaning to get on with their game. They’d planned to capture someone, and they’d planned to turn a bunch of things into other things. But after a while the entire plot had been taken over by recipes for potions.