It is nighttime, dark and cold, the air tinged with the electricity that comes before a storm. It is a small town on the edge of a highway in the middle of a great flat expanse of dry land. The town is a tiny rest spot for travelers and a recurring source of sustenance for the few local inhabitants. There are two open gas stations, each with a corresponding convenience store. There are a few other stores and a car mechanic shop, all closed for the night. Few cars drive by, and even fewer stop. The traffic light flashes red continuously and the pedestrian lights have all been turned off. The tall dry grass on the edge of the road bends backwards with the force of the wind and some leaves float away towards the outer darkness.
In the little gas station on the north side, an old man slumps backwards against an old rickety chair, his head bobbing up and down with the weight of tired drowsiness. A single man fills the tank of his new red car, calmly surveying his surroundings as he leans against the back door. A large truck is parked on the side, its massive bulk forming a temporary barrier against the wind. A small brown cat scurries behind some large dumpsters behind the building.
In the gas station to the south, a fat woman sits waiting for clients. She reads a celebrity news magazine and sips from a plastic cup of coffee. She looks out to the street every so often and then back to her magazine and the dream world of the movie stars. There is a small sedan parked on the side and a large fat man sleeps soundly behind the wheel, little trickles of saliva dripping off the side of his mouth and down his chin.
A block further down, there is a third gas station, dark and abandoned. A light blue pickup truck is parked on the street in front of it, all its wheels are flat and the lights have been broken. The pumps are rusty and their design is from another era. The windows of the building have also been broken and the inside has been completely pillaged. An old cash register and some dirty ripped up newspapers are all that remain.
I sit on the step that leads to the forgotten main register. I am wearing a thick black jacket, the hood pulled back towards my shoulders, black pants and black shoes and a white shirt. Around my neck is a tiny porcelain mushroom, painted in with many colored lines and dangling from an elastic black cord. My back is resting against the wall and my eyes shift slowly back and forth between the dark cold street and the girl that rests in my arms.
She has a small fragile brown body, black hair to her shoulders and a delicate soft face. Her eyes are turned downward as she presses her cheek against my chest. She is wearing a black skirt, a light brown blouse, and flat black shoes. Her body trembles every so often and mine trembles in response. Her breath comes in loud gasps and tiny little sobs. I hold her head with my hand and softly caress her black hair and her forehead. I press her tightly towards me and she responds by pushing into me, as if she wants to sink completely into my heart and find a true hiding place in there, away from the wind and the cold and the loneliness.
Every few minutes, the wind makes a loud sound as it flows through the desolate gas station and the cold rush sends a collective shiver through both our bodies. She looks up at me as if to confirm that I’m still there and I look down and continue to caress her hair. I nod and her cheek returns to my chest.