Jory Mickleson, 37
I am in a car and it is night, the kind of night that looks like the well-loved oval of dark blue paint in a watercolor set. You suspect the white plastic to show through the bottom eventually, but not yet. When the paint is dry you put your thumb into that space to feel the smooth-rough groove. My car fits into the smooth-rough groove of the darker road in all this blue night.
The car is moving quickly and I am so tired I keep falling asleep, despite the exhilaration of its speed. I know it is unsafe, that I need to stop, but I am still just a little way from the next town. If I can make it to the tiny town up the road, then I can pull the car over to the side and sleep, maybe, in the park or in the car, pulled off on some tiny side street. I just need to keep the headlights pointed forward and my swerving under control. I am so impressed by the stars I keep ducking my head down close to the steering wheel to take in as much sky as possible, a sky that seems like more than it can possibly contain.
I finally make it to the town and get out of my old green car. It’s supposed to be a late 70’s Impala but the angles are all wrong. Too square, more Buick. But it doesn’t matter, I have stepped from the car and onto the cool damp grass of a park—a grassy field next to the road that the nearby town keeps watered and mown. After the confined, plummeting danger of the car, the park feels expansive, almost as huge as the sky.
I still can’t shake the forward motion of the car ride as I walk slowly across the park with my eyes up, still trying to take in as much of the sky as my head can hold. I feel woozy between the stretch of grass below me and the starlight above. It’s too much. Perhaps this is why the town is wedged up against low bluffs— to block the wind and muffle this immense horizon.
This late, every light is off in every house—the town may as well be an abandoned movie set. I know that I am going to fall asleep soon, the lingering motion of the car has almost left me. I sit down and run my hand through the mown, dew-strung grass and it seems as if I can feel every blade.
Somehow I know the now-closed diner with only two tables will open in a few hours, and the promise of something opening ahead is just enough to let me let go. I lay back in the grass drifting in and out of sleep. Every time I manage to open my eyes, the sky is still above me, throbbing like the dream it is. Maybe when I wake up the cafe will have its lights on. It will be glowing against all this night.