A bit of trees somewhere along a road, Portugal – April 30, 2017
The road crosses the Tejo river on an old steel bridge then shoots like an arrow across the floodplain. It takes a slight right turn and continues on like it will never end. Pavement, cars, trucks, and the two of us, all stuck together as the sun beats down.
The constant roar of cars agitates my nerves. The air soaks with the smell of engines and asphalt. Discarded bottles litter the roadside. I stare at each approaching vehicle as if it might swerve to kill me.
A single texting driver, someone taking a sip of coffee, a kid acting up in the back seat, all could be the last of me. I watch each car ready to throw myself to the side. The remains of animals flattened against the pavement every few miles attest to how well bones fare against thousands of pounds of moving steel.
We find a dozen chocolate cake bars someone lost off the back of a truck. They’re baking in the heat, but sealed and still good. We find a scratched up euro coin and slide it into a pocket. We pass bottles of piss tossed out by truck drivers who don’t want to stop.
And the road goes on, baking in the sun until our socks drip with sweat. We stop, air them out, and walk on, grinding our feet into the pavement while every little bone calls for rebellion.
“But at least there’s a good shoulder,” Daya says.
I nod. It’s a solid three steps wide. It could be worse. We walk on.
We don’t reach the end of the road. We won’t tomorrow either. Maybe not even the day after. Only the day ends, light slipping away as we slide off into a thin forest, putting a few hundred trees between the road and us, enough space to quell rebellions and sleep off the day.