It was a long time before he could sleep. When he did, he experienced, in the form of a dream, a memory of his childhood.
It was very clear. He was three years old, perhaps less, and he was collecting pebbles on a beach. All the visual values of the beach were pushed, as in some advertising image, so that things seemed a little too sharp, a little too bright, a little too distinct. Sunlight glittered on a receding tide. The sand curved gently away, the colour of linen blinds. Gulls stood in a line on the groyne nearby. Michael Kearney sat among the pebbles. Still wet, and sorted by the undertow into drifts and bands of different sizes, they lay around him like jewels, dried fruit, nubs of bone. He ran them through his fingers, choosing, discarding, choosing and discarding. He saw cream, white, grey; he saw tiger colours. He saw ruby red. He wanted them all! He glanced up to make sure his mother was paying attention, and when he looked down again, some shift of vision had altered his perspective: he saw clearly that the gaps between the larger stones made the same sorts of shapes as the gaps between the smaller ones. The more he looked, the more the arrangement repeated itself. Suddenly he undestood this as a condition of things - if you could see the patterns the waves made, or remember the shapes of a million small white clouds, there it would be, a boiling inexplicable, vertiginous smilarity in all the processes of the world, roaring silently away from you in ever-shifting repetitions, always the same, never the same thing twice.
In that moment he was lost. Out of the sand, the sky, the pebbles - out of what he would later think of as the willed fractality of things, emerged the Shrander. He had no name for it then. It had no shape for him. But it was in his dreames thereafter, as a hollow, an absence, a shadow on a door. He woke from this latest dream, forty years later, and it was a pale wet morning with fog in the trees on the other side of the road. Anna Kearney clung to him saying his name.