The world outside of the story made no sense whatsoever — that’s why, as soon as they learned about something, they worked it in as best they could.
The twelve crows flying over the cathedral became twelve crows flying over the cathedral, just like that.
There was a balloon hanging from a tree, thwarted in its efforts to return to the ground. No, wait — it was only a traffic sign in another language.
A little girl in the back seat watched her father handing money out the window to a policeman and marveled at the gentle treatment accorded those dirty scraps of paper.
The roadsides were decorated with empty beverage containers, empty take-out boxes, empty plastic shopping bags advertising Everyday Low Prices. “Garbage in, garbage out,” intoned the priests. Junk DNA was found to account for over 80 percent of the human genome.
People talked. You couldn’t meet a trucker alone at the end of a deserted road without somebody finding out about it.
Fishermen’s tales were not to be believed — especially after the one that got away didn’t come back, ever, and the fleet rusted in the harbor.
No matter what happened, there were children watching. People claimed to love them, won their trust, then did despicable things to them — and for some reason, people didn’t talk about that. Some things simply remained outside the story.
Balloons were released with notes attached. They often travelled for hundreds of miles before some mountaintop tree managed to snag them. I found a few myself, over the years.