The distance by black tender night is wrapped.
An ache sprouted from Ray’s shoulder into his skull. Beads of sweat seeped out of his skin, making it slick and wet. Creaks wheezed from the struggling air conditioning unit in the window—the machine droned. Distant sirens broke Ray’s concentration, stealing his thoughts away from his midterm. His fingers stopped tapping the keys on his laptop. His paper was in rough shape—he’d have to rewrite the damned thing anyway. Fatigued by the heat, Ray closed his laptop and leaned back in his chair. He tried to massage the knot out of his neck.
Enslaved by darkness and encased in dusk,
A blanket of night wraps around the forest, enveloping the plush summer trees in darkness. The air is warm and heavy with moisture. A storm might be near... closing in on the forest to swallow it up in clouds and rain. A breeze blows through the wooden limbs of the trees, fluttering their leaves.
The room is dark and chilled. Scotty lies in bed, wide awake. His digital alarm clock displays big red numbers: 3:28 AM. Scotty’s breath comes in short dry gasps that catch in his chest as if his lungs were lined with cotton. He fixes his eyes on the ceiling: glow-in-the-dark stars and planets dot a flat white sky, forever frozen in orbit. Scotty decides to count them. Twenty-two. The same number he counted an hour or so before. A ceiling fan wobbles around and around, sprinkling cold air down on him like dry rain; clouds of dust float in the darkness, balancing on thin beams of moonlight.
I sit down on the curb of the street, away from the party inside. The smoky rooms and pulsing speakers inside are not mixing well with my inebriated stomach and my light head. I look up and down the street I am sitting alongside: silent and empty in both directions. The 3 AM cold prickles my skin, helping to settle my writhing belly.