★★★★ The stale and sluggish efforts of the air conditioner gave way to a new, cheerful breeze. The sky, too, had crossed over to autumnal blue. In the sun, it was still warm; summer dresses were holding on, and a two-seater Mercedes went by with its top down. A few bright yellow leaves had gotten an early start leaving the honeylocusts. The blinds rattled. Afternoon clouds lay across the sky like knives. A drift of petals and leaves, mostly green ones, had collected against the forecourt wall. By the time back-to-school night was over, a real chill was in place. Up at the zenith, Deneb was shining its millennium-old light. As the eyes tried to gather enough other stars to make constellations with, more yellow leaves, even yellower in the streetlights, flew in front of them. The half-moon was white and crisp-cut, its edge almost imperceptibly swelling past perfect straightness.