tonight the sky.

A strong late summer breeze met his face as he opened the door. It passed between branches and shook leaves with a firm but gentle force, and he welcomed its embrace as he walked down the path, avoiding the fallen, shriveled plums that littered it.

He didn't know where he was going -- only that he felt like driving. Most nights that was enough, especially when it was by choice instead of by necessity. He had read somewhere that, if you stood at the South Pole and faced away from it, every direction was north. This was like that.

He plugged in the device as he settled into the driver's seat, turning the volume up. An electric guitar melody, rhythmic and thrumming, began to spill from the vehicle's speakers. He rolled down the window and sat for a moment, enjoying the feel of the wind. He turned the key. The engine quietly roared to life.

He'd have preferred some company. He thought about the friends and acquaintances he had allowed himself to lose as he drove. He thought about the times when he could have asked any number of companions to join him on a quick run to the fast-food joint or the gas station or the 24-hour grocery store. He now made these sojourns by himself, and sometimes that was okay but sometimes it wasn't. He wasn't sure which kind this was, but he allowed as how it might be a third option: he felt lonely but enjoyed feeling it, like stretching out a muscle hours after a long run. The soreness was sharp but pleasurable.

He turned the volume up louder.

"Tonight bright stars
Are shining for you.
Oceans and big clouds,
Deep midnight blue."

He pressed the accelerator and thought of the day when he would sing that for her.

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