A blue hue drenches the landscape in silvery glows and tones, saturating everything from aluminum to grass, making it all easy on the eyes—a light syrup coating of color. Travis looks at the world around him and wonders why it can’t be lit like this all the time—why the harshness of the sun had to be. Now, the asphalt of the parking lot, the cars, even the bright scrabble game pieces of the Waffle House sign, normally a hey-ya’ll-happy yellow, have taken on a tolerable softness. The dawn’s early light, when the yellow of that nearest star has not yet pierced everything, is mellow. It is light without a source, bent, and it makes Travis feel clean and his skin as soft as if he were underwater, his arm hairs adrift while he pushes his feet down to the ground, past hovering broken glass and flattened cigarette butts.

As the rubber of Travis and Nick’s boots come down to meet the sidewalk, they are just cradled by a thin padding of welcome. Their gait is long and synchronous as they slide along the world, four lanes and a median of asphalt to their left. Travis and Nick feel as though gravity is less a force and more an attraction; when they are paying attention to being on the ground at all. For the most part they are just smiling at everything and enjoying the general feeling of solace in the cool morning. In the background of their brains there is a mattress, unevenly laid, cushioning every heavy thought with creaky springs.

Nick looks up out of his own reverie to see what Travis has laughed about. He looks up the road and sees that truck-stop glee appear before him in all-black capital letters: Waffle House. “Food,” he says, mesmerized by the radiation.

“Wow,” Travis agrees.

“Are you comin’ down yet?” Nick asks. He had his gas station attendant’s jacket zipped all the way up, the collar turned up, too. A light wind tosses his thick brown hair.

The whole scene makes Travis feel like he is near the sea; the light, the air, the breeze, just the sense of the proximity of water. He wonders for a moment what that feeling is—the salt in the air or did the tides affect the weather by the shore? There wasn’t a body of water beyond the Broad River several miles away. But a big body of water was in the air. “Yeah,”

Travis replies thoughtfully. “For about the last hour really.”

Nick takes a deep breath, letting it out through his nose. “Meeee toooooo.”

“I don’t mind.” He waits a while, “You know? I usually feel really relaxed for a couple of days afterward.”

“Stupid?” Nick asks.

“No. Pretty clear-headed really. Post-zen.”

They get to the front of the Waffle House and Nick opens the door for Travis. “That was a night.”

Travis steps into the weather foyer of the restaurant and opens the inner door for Nick. “Good times.”