All the clouds are pointing north.
It’s still I-85, passing exit Forty-Eight A in a town I’ll never visit in a state I barely know, passing breaking waves of traffic down a fresh black highway, and all the clouds are beckoning us on.
Like divers, like dolphins, they sit like endless schools of fish in the sky, huddled and waiting for the great plunge. The northern ends are invariably darker gray verging on black, little wisps of fog hanging ominously off the bottom, while the southern ends are light, fluffy, harmless cumulus. They have that streamlined shape where they actually do come to a point at the northward end, flattened on the bottom and tapering in the front and puffing out in the back.
It’s an armada that would have put Spain to shame, great darkened galleons on either side of us, above and behind and all around us, plowing slowly through the great wide sky. They pass over the trees of gold and brown and pine, the six-lane highway dotted with green signs, the parasitic rest stops and fast-food establishments that suck a little life from the travelers before letting them go again, gluttons of the roadway. They pass over factories and fireworks stores and used-car dealerships, far above crumbling bridges and autumn leaves and inane billboards, far over our little van. Inexorable, unstoppable giants heading mindlessly north.
Onward we roll, passing blown-out tires in the middle of the road and calling out “yellow car! Yellow car!’ every now and again, listening to Bon Iver and digesting the Arbys we had for lunch and snacking on occasional cookies as Hildie eats up the miles to the pre-staging area.