Cyrus's nose had been useless since he moved to Muskegon. The paper mill had long since closed, but people said it was the kind of town that deadened the senses anyway. His friends had abandoned wild hairstyles and clothes, moved past tattooing, and taken up piercings and implants in an arms race of personal branding. The pavement cracked; their psyches thrashed.
They said he was uptight. He resisted their jaded scarification. Inwardly he reeled when Ethel became a junkie as a fashion statement, but at the bar Cyrus pursed his lips and nodded with everyone else. He felt the emperor had no clothes, but who would listen?
He took to driving the battered streets after the early bars closed. They said the Midwest was a post-industrial wasteland, but the bricks felt warm to him. At least the buildings let the bindweed grow on them. Nothing grew in his broken social scene. As he rolled past the fences he felt watched, or perhaps looked upon. It wasn't the buildings' glassless spectacles regarding him. Maybe it was the Milky Way. Muskegon no longer put out enough light pollution to drown out the stars.
Sometimes, as he drove, the crickets would go silent and Cyrus would sense a presence. Above him there floated an ambivalent deja vu. The hair would stand up on the back of his neck. Would they take him away? Would they show him a different place to be, a different way to be? If they did, what could he do? Nothing: his friends' condescending grins would lock him out forever. They could never change, even as they burned with the pace of their fashion.
I wish that they'd swoop down on a country lane late at night when I'm driving.
They'd take me on board their beautiful ship and show me the world as I'd love to see it.