We’ve been driving forever.
Mum got sad and stopped talking when Ayla asked if we were there yet for the hundredth time. Sometimes the white noise from the radio stops and a few words come through.
Dad whistles half a tune every now and then.
White noise, gravel road and the rumble of the car. The sky is blue.
Ayla is fixated on something in the corner of the window near her seat. The windows are locked – we aren’t to wind them down.
Whenever we drive somewhere for the holidays it always takes so long and the last time we did I was sick and vomited on the seat. Even after we cleaned it there was still a smell but Dad got a new work car since then so I promised I would tell them if I felt sick so they could stop the car. I haven’t been sick yet and I think I won’t vomit the whole way.
Dad’s eyes are fixed on the road. Usually when I look into Dad’s eyes, they are bright like the sunlight bouncing off little puddles after the rain. Right now they look empty, like the eyes on one of Ayla’s stuffed toys.
A green sign passes but I can’t read it. The sky is grey-brown.
With a blink, Dad seems to come to life, “Guys! Only 20k’s to Bega!”. He glances around, beaming.
I don’t know what Bega is and I don’t know why we’re going there. We’ve been driving non-stop since last night I think. Mum and Dad woke us up at night and told us we were going on a holiday. We didn’t even get to pack our bags but they said we could buy things when we got to Bega.
Mum looks back at us for a moment and smiles faintly. Her eyes are red, she looks past us a for a moment and her face changes. Eyes wide, I can see the red around the edges. Lip quivering. She quickly turns back and grabs Dad’s arm as he drives, her knuckles are white. Dad doesn’t say anything.
I want to look back but the last time Ayla and I tried to Mum and Dad both screamed at us. Dad never screams but I never saw him look so scared when he did.
Mum and Dad are looking at each other now, he’s not looking at the road anymore.
Mum’s crying and so is Dad. They both smile while they’re crying. I don’t know why.
How long has it been? I don’t know.
They both look back at us, “Only 15 k’s to Bega! Why don’t you two have a rest before we get there? We don’t want you napping when we’re walking around town.” Mum smiles through the tears. Her smile doesn’t seem real.
The sky is a red-brown, it’s almost glowing and getting brighter like a weird sunset.
Ayla has stopped playing and is asleep.
Do- on the cor-
Ou- in t-e street
Willy and the – are playin’
Bring a ni-, ta- your feet-
Oh, it’s that song that used to be on the radio all the time when I was in prep. I remember how hot the summer was back then. It feels like it’s getting that hot now.
The glow is getting brighter as I close my eyes. I feel sleepy.