“Follow the paint,” she’d said, and then the line had clicked off. It’d been three weeks since he’d seen her. He’d replayed the voicemail a thousand times since then.

Jack, I think I’ve figured it out.

It wove its way into his dreams, landscapes full of sun and dust and Rachel’s voice. Sometimes there was an engine, loud and terrible, drowning out everything else. Other times he could hear her words, soft, like air from a tire.

I can smell the paint from here.

She grew up addicted to the rooms in other peoples' lives.

At night she walked among the houses, hunting for the familiar blue glow of a flickering TV, the reassuring motion of a ceiling fan, ribbons of light cascading through half-drawn blinds. Every lit window a world–teenagers hunched over computers, adults reclining in their favorite chairs, babies screaming over lullabies.