South of town, by roads weaving woodlands and fields of tall corn or low-lying soybeans, we would drive at unchecked speeds away from the light. Charleston, an illumination on the horizon behind us as we fled, glowed an unhealthy orange. The further we drove from that dull glow, the more the stars became flaring white. Points of radiance, unseen within city limits, appeared in the sky. The top was down on Homen’s car and we could sit on the trunk with our feet in the back seat, the wind too loud for talking.

Hardly a part of the black above wasn’t speckled with too many stars to make sense of. By the time we passed Fletcher’s Farm, we could barely see the constellations. It seemed they would light the night, so many were the number of points filling the heavens. The moon, too, shone and reflected brightly on the smooth, tarry parts of the road. But the trees beyond the ditch on either side of the country road were black masses of shadow. A few branches caught some moonlight as they reached out over the paved way, cutting into rural Illinois.

It wasn’t his fault, really.


[Having conspicuously noted that I was missing from the scene, these descriptions of the fall, this seal broken under the severing strain of two worlds, should appear as a form of morbid penitence. Visualizing the event is the narrator’s attempt to come closer to the gathering counterculture that began to wane that night. He knew it was over. The safety of Peacocks and the canapé that hid our righteous shame was lost. He pines for proximity and damns himself for not suffering the scars borne by those he loved.]

In Jessica’s thin and cradling arms, Clayton’s upper body grew less responsive like a child going to sleep. Nothing of the toothy smile Clayton always flashed remained. He had an expression that wore hints of shock from the fall, a face that feared the ground and anticipated the impact but had forgotten what had happened. Just a countenanced paranoia of the impending that faded imperceptibly. Off in the distance, Leif’s screams for his father were dampened by thick leaves. Trying to reach through the uneven terrain rising and falling between him and his father, I could hear “come and see.”

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