The sun flutters behind the clouds as it descends, leaving behind a world of darkened wonder. But it isn't dark, not on the highways of New England, where the headlights beam and flash, curious and excited. A car, green and older, travels in the middle lane, rattling and tired. The family - a little girl, just two years, and her parents - are returning to their hometown in a small New England state, eager for the cold and frost of home. The girl is asleep, dreaming whatever it is little girls dream. Her parents have the radio on, and light piano music waltzes to her car-seat, invading her dreams and floating through her mind like a petite puffy cloud.
The car smells of coffee, for her father, who is driving, would hate to be tired on the road, and her mother, like many other Americans, has a decaf addiction. The little girl doesn't mind - coffee and mint gum and piano music are the scents of her home, and her sleeping lungs inhale deeply, mixing the smells with that of her shampoo and mother's faint perfume. She sleeps on, unaware of the cars passing by outside her window, not hearing the honks and cries they make. Her bright blue eyes, when awake, are innocent and wide; but this night they are closed, and her little brown head bobs up and down slightly as she inhales and exhales. She is tiny, even for two, and the brown ringlets and long lashes make her look even more fragile. Perhaps that's what she is - fragile. But she is too young to care, or to know if she is or isn't. And while the sounds whir and beep and shout outside, the little girl ignores the horns and headlights and sleeps in a world of coffee flavored dreams.
Her father, awake and alert - perhaps thanks to his caffeine-charged veins, changes lanes, crossing the blurred white line, speeding up slightly to pass a car. The car is red and shiny, new and confident, but the car's driver is unsure where she's going, driving slowly and peering at the flashy green signs declaring EXIT. The father glances at the license plate as he zips past. Out of state. Of course.
The woman in the red car is from out of state: New York to be exact. She's driving back from a weekend with her son and her parents and her twin, where she told them she was pregnant again; a surprise even to her, but an exciting one. Her son doesn't really understand, but he looks forward to a little sister; he is only three, and falling asleep in the backseat. His thumb is in its favorite place, his mouth, and his eyes are flickering shut. Every now and them, they fly open, and he presses his nose curiously to the window, looking to the bright lights and loud sounds, and this confuses him - why are they forever changing locations? He can't see the stars, only the headlights, and lights from passing houses. He tries to peer inside their windows, but the car always passes too quickly, and soon, he forgets what he is trying to see.
His mom isn't completely sure where she is going, having never traveled without a navigator before: she isn't too good with directions and maps, and grows nervous when driving at night. It's unfamiliar territory, full of long landscapes and few signs, with arrogant drivers consistently speeding or pushing on impatiently behind her. She leans over the wheel, desperate to find the exit she wants, but even with her headlights it's hard to see. Her speed dips down again as she looks out the window, and an annoyed green car speeds up to pass. The boy watches as the car flies by, mixing into the sea of other cars. For a moment, he can see inside the green car's window, to where a little brown-haired girl sleeps, head pressed against the glass. She looks like an angel from those stories, or a fairy, he thinks, eyes wide. He tries to keep the car in sight, but soon it passes beyond his vision, and he forgets about the little girl.
The boy's eyes shut for good, his mind diving into the depths of dream. In them, he sees a little brunette girl playing, laughing, pulling him out to sea, where the waves tickle his feet and her ringlets flounce in the wind. The fish flutter against his legs, and her hand is in his, tugging him towards the deeper waves, the loving crash of foam.
When he wakes up to the sound of a car horn, he can't remember a thing about his dream. But an unfamiliar warm feeling presses against him, burning him curiously. He closes his eyes once again, and falls into sleep.