My job is to make sure the driver doesn’t fall asleep. That’s why I’m here, even though I’m very tired, too. I watch him out of the corner of my eye. Watch where his hands are on the wheel. Watch if they’re slipping or shifting. He doesn’t like small talk, so I don’t try.
The radio only comes to life when we’re waiting at a stoplight. Short soft bursts that aren’t static, but aren’t really anything else either. Sometimes, I think I hear Patsy Cline or Buddy Holly in them, so I pretend we are driving into the past. Each hill is another year. Back, back, back. The roadside signs are faded, so I pretend it’s from decades of baking heat or maybe a great flood that made all their colors bleed together. If I could, I would roll down the window and trail my hand through the night air, but now it’s too dark and the heater is on.
When we reach the highway, we are back in our time. Halfway home. I turn the radio up a little louder to keep us awake. This time, it really is static.