A group of girls walked by Blaine. In the soft glow of cell phones and the fury of headlights, he could make out the costumes of slutty cops and strung out gypsies. He couldn't tell who they were, but he knew he recognized the voices. He had bigger things to worry about anyway.
It was dark, and it had been a dark day. When he woke up that morning, walking out to his car, wearing shades and tilting his head back to reflect the sky, he couldn't find the sun. He felt it's light, stuck uncomfortably onto his skin, like pitch. He attempted to redirect himself under the light, and he waited for the clouds to move. He stood in his driveway until the entire sky was barren of clouds, and looking in every direction he still couldn't see the sun. This had happened before, he remembered, but the ordeal was always forgotten when he saw the sun burning in some obscure corner of the sky like a savage and empty eye socket.
Blaine had been inside all day after that. It was an obscenely hot October, and this heat seemed to be peaking right at the end of the month. All the windows were open in every classroom, and he never looked through them, remembering that unsettling moment in the morning when he didn't see the sun.
When he left the school at the end of the day, he walked out toward the parking lot; staring at his shoes make their way across the cracked and weed-snaked pavement. He got into his car and drove home, watching the early trick-or-treaters and fresh and unlit jack-o-lanterns resting on steps and porches. Over-zealous celebrators of Halloween were still stringing up massive spider webs on their front yards and breaking ground on cemeteries with crooked and cracked headstones.
"Look at the moon," she said, drunkenly leaning on Blaine's shoulder, it seemed like she was smelling his hair. "This is the . . . perfect moon for Halloween."
He could hear her smile, she was so close he heard the inside of her lips parting from her teeth. He was standing in Liz's driveway to go to her Halloween party, and had driven Sophie there. She was already drunk when he picked her up from her house. The cops and gypsies were going through the door, and something was making a noise at the edge of the woods.
From inside, he heard yelling, and a song he couldn't identify.
"Do we really have to go?" he asked.
"I want to have fun, for just like an hour."
"Where did you say the moon was?"
She shut her eyes, and slouched toward the pavement, tiredly pointing a finger to the black sky, streaked with silver clouds, where Blaine didn't find the moon. "Right?"
Walking up the driveway he started shivering. He saw some people inside sitting in a circle. A small party, nine people, somebody was standing outside talking on a phone, and walking in the other direction as Blaine approached. He'd decided to stop looking up.
A game played among Blaine and his friends (something made up one hazy week-off in mid-winter, the type you feeling settling in your bloodstream days after,) was telling the "worst story ever." Revolting, "true" stories, some of which seemed true in the awkward pauses and occasional abrupt ending. Last week, a boy who Blaine had never met before, but seemed familiar with the game, told the story of how he was raped by his dog. He left and drove off when he heard someone mutter "bullshit." A lot of the stories had been funny: sexual injuries and deviance, stories of absurd drug experiments and early signs of alcoholism.
Some were sad, like "what I coughed up the other day," "the day I found my aunt dead," "digging up my dead cat when I was seven," et cetera.
Sophie started a story, saying in a jaded and rose-tinted voice, "I've never told anyone this before."
Pulling back into his driveway around noon, Blaine thought about what happened the morning before. He hadn't looked up since, not even by accident. He had begun to realize that looking up was a deliberate action. This is probably why people don't see UFOs or Ivory-Billed woodpeckers, he thought to himself. They probably just aren't looking. He didn't realize until he turned off the car that he had the heater on and all of the windows up. He stepped out, and heard some echoing and lost avian call erupt from the woods. It sounded like an owl. Looking at the pavement, he thought she saw shadows of clouds racing through the sky like something spewed from a smokestack.
"I've been really cold lately," Blaine started. "I was sitting out on my porch, smoking the other day."
He looked at everyone sitting around silently, listening.
"And . . ."
He looked at his glass, the ice cubes shrinking and the sides were dewy and slowly perspiring. "And I stuck it down into my arm." Blaine pulled up the sleeve of his sweatshirt. "Really quick, and pulled it out, but it's pretty bad."
"Oh! Speaking of pulling out. . ." and someone started another story.
Blaine rolled down his sleeve and started to listen, watching a few people get up and leave.