Behind a house, a square, trimmed grass lawn, flowerpots in the corners, a short white picket fence at the back with a gate. A path of fine tan gravel leads respectably straight through the gate, beyond which the grass continues, no less trimmed. A yard wide is this space beyond the fence, and the far side is bordered by white plastic flowerbed edging. Past this, a few inches of grey bedrock and undomesticated bits of stone, and then day turns to profound darkness in the space of a few inches. As far as the eye can see in either direction, the grass and gardens end at that edging, and a strip of lifeless wilderness ground is exposed, like the skin of a workman’s finger pulled back from the quick of the nail, and that vanishes quickly into sunless night. Upwards, the blue of the sky and the snowy stretches of cloud also vanish into the shadow. It would not seem so dark if it was black as black paper, or even the space between stars – in the depths and distance of the obscurity, as in a mine, a well, or train tunnel, straining eyes can sense that there are shapes: near or far, large or small, common or alien, no more can be discerned.
A “shore” residence. Voices are heard in front of the house. A child comes out of the back door to water the flowers with a watering can; a sparkly pinwheel spins silently in a brief tasteless breeze that drifts out of the blackness.