The night was cold. It was the kind of cold that shocks you, that offends the animal within on a primal, existential level. Nelly, our faithful Mazda 3, carried us over a long black tongue of country highway, signalling the essential information from the dash in a serene amber glow. It was midnight and thirty below. It was the dead of winter. The frost crept up the inside of the car window, filigrees of white ice summoned from the air, fed by the moisture of our warm breath and stretching across the glass.
I was half-asleep, and Andrew drove. There was some droning podcast on. I think it was the Undertale episode of Cane & Rinse, but I’d lost interest and retreated into my own thoughts. I don’t know what prompted it, but my eyes seemed to focus out the window without any conscious instruction from my brain, and I realized that I could see stars near the horizon.
You almost never see stars near the horizon, at least not near the city, where the light pollutes the air. I always thought that was an interesting way to put it — light pollution. As though light were an impurity, an infection. It makes sense, though. The night sky is a resource more precious than oil or gold.