There’s a part of the desert where the winds don’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine — or not very much, anyway. Hazy, I guess you’d call it, and close, though not humid or muggy like that implies.

In this area there’s a valley, and in the valley there’s a maze. The maze is all of a pale, crumbling sort of stone, and the walls are high and rounded slightly, so that when the wind does blow, the sand doesn’t get inside. Dark-leaved trees, cypresses, probably, or ilex, maybe, lift their heads above each intersection. You’d think it’d be too hot for them, too dry, and you’re right, but they’re there anyway. They stand out against the sky and the paleness of the walls.

I’ve never found the entrance to the maze, though I’ve been looking, off and on, for the last, oh, ten or fifteen years. I’ve seen the exit, down at the foot of the hills that surround the place. Somehow I know it’s for leaving.

I’ve never gone inside the maze.

Once in a great while somebody comes out, old usually, but not always, and a little crazy looking. They don’t say much, like maybe they’ve forgotten how to talk to people, but I’m persistent, and so I’ve picked up more or less the feel of the place.

The important thing to remember is that everything stays put in the maze. Shoes, shiny stones you might pick up, a pocketful of peanut shells, right where it lands. I’ve talked to people who’ve spent years twisting their way through it, doubling back on themselves again and again, and whenever they come back to where they dropped something, there it still is, even if years have gone by, decades, a little drier, perhaps, but just the same.

Sometimes people die without ever finding the exit from the maze. They, too, (or so I’m told) stay perfectly preserved, just as they fell, untouched by decay, unburied by sand, forever.