A plane suddenly disappears from the radar and no one knows where it has gone. The initial assumption is that terrorists must be responsible. From that point, this short story collection travels elsewhere: having coffee with a group of Iraqi immigrants working as drivers, a hospital emergency room where the sick and injured wait for help that never seems to come, the unique candidacy of a governor whose most compelling platform is his plan for Right Living, a group of old men who gather on a polluted beach every morning to remember what life was like when the water and sand were pristine. And, we meet a lonely woman who inexplicably finds long white thread spilling from her lips.
Later, we learn about a clump of dust that drifts across the U.S.-Mexico border. We then meet: a small farmer from a tiny Mexican village who has, to a patrol agent's extreme dismay, managed to skirt the border fence; half-human/half-avian creatures that live at the top of a dormant volcano and are known as Bird Women; Blanca Peña, who might do anything to get a new pair of jeans; and a Muslim and Christian who find themselves bonding over the loss of an island.