Lowell sat staring into the campfire and imagined a flaming skull staring back at him, poised to open its cinder mouth and swallow him whole.
He’d driven all day to be here, to sit among the dark mountains and watch the stars come out. The road played on a constant loop in his mind, ready to reappear any time he shut his eyes. He could hear voices speaking out in the darkness, other campers huddled around their own fires, but they kept their sentences short and their voices quiet. They’d come out here to get away, too.
The trees rustled as the wind picked up. Lowell closed his eyes and breathed in the pine and dirt and the woodsmoke. The wind dropped again and an owl hooted, brought to wakefulness. Somebody in the campground hooted back at the owl and Lowell opened his eyes, smiling. He raised his plastic cup of whiskey mixed with dirty cooler ice and took a long drink, enjoying the mix of cold and warm it brought to his stomach. He’d decided to drunk as possible as the stars burned brighter and brighter and then he’d go off into the woods, for an adventure.
It’d been so long.