She woke up with a jolt. Why was she in a car? What had happened? Remembering, she relaxed again.
“Sorry, we hit a pothole” Sam. Rae breathed in. What if she didn’t breathe out again, would she pop like a balloon? Or would her heart just stop and not start again? She breathed out, not interested in the answer.
It was sunset. They had left right after noon, so they'd been driving for a couple hours. They must’ve stopped for gas recently, because the meter showed 3/4 of a gallon.
“Where’d you get the money for gas?” she asked, rubbing sleep from her eyes. Sam looked sheepishly towards her and knew she wasn’t going to like this.
“Debit card” he said, like he was afraid she would explode. She didn’t even look at him.
“You mean your college fund don’t you?” Out of the corner of her eye she saw him nod.
He was right to be afraid she’d explode. Rae could feel a tantrum coming on that made four year olds look calm and reasonable. She didn’t want to be predictable or difficult, in a strained voice she said “Okay”. What was done was done.
“What, no hissy fit?” she could hear the joking in his voice, but also edgy anticipation as if he was still expecting it. Rae tersely jerked her head back and forth, just so she wouldn’t have to talk.
“Okay then. So. Where are we going? I need things to be a little more specific than ‘south’” she buried her head in her hands. Where was she going? They were just going on a whim, a thought that the voice had given her. The same voice she had yelled at and wanted out. She needed another nap.
A place burning hot yet freezing cold. Yay. The voice was back.
“Know any place hot and cold?”
“What? That doesn’t make any sense. Did you inhale too much exhaust from your bike?” Sam had mock concern in his voice. Rae demonstrated which of her fingers was her favorite.
“How long have we been driving?” she asked, exhaustion already seeping into her voice. It’d be a long trip, wherever they were going.
“About 7 hours. Do you want me to find a hotel?” If they stayed at a hotel, it’d be even more time and money lost.
“No” Rae said hurriedly “We can sleep in the truck. Here, pull over, let me drive a while” A tired smile appeared on his face.
“You don’t have a license.” Of course. He loved to comment on how he was so much older than her. 6 months isn’t exactly eternity. Unless you're Sam.
“Like it matters. I’m a better driver than you and you know it.” He stuck his tongue out.
“Fine” he relented “but if i find my off road, muddin’ truck bent around a tree, you’re buying me another.” He pulled off the road.
They stopped at taco bell to switch. Eyebrows went up at the noise her stomach was making and she realized she hadn’t eaten all day. Not even the orange juice, she had left it out. Rae felt a bit guilty about the mess, but remembered what her aunt had said. She ordered four soft tacos and something she couldn't pronounce with her country accent, and Sam (after asking twice if they had fries) settled for a burrito.
The next few hours blurred together. She drove along the coast, switching from country to rock music, depending on which station had the least static. Sam’s light snoring was heard in the background. A little after midnight, Rae pulled over to a rest stop. Leaving Sam asleep in the car she headed for the bathrooms. The seedy guys looking at her made her rethink and go back. She took the knife from the pocket in her hello kitty bookbag.
Staring at herself in the dirty mirror she realized she looked sick. Sure, the fluorescent lights didn’t help her pale skin, but the bags around her eyes made her look like a drug addict. No wonder those dudes didn’t attack her, she looked like a homeless person. Rae brushed her hair, changed and hand washed her other set of clothes. She was past makeup, so she walked out, knife in hand as a warning.
Back at the truck, Sam had a five hour energy and a look that said he had found out what it tasted like. Rae tried to push him out of the driver’s seat which he now occupied, but only succeeded in getting the keys snatched from her bag. He cranked the car and locked his door. Sighing obnoxiously, she climbed in the other side. Without needing to ask, she put her head in Sam’s lap.