Chicken and the Road [Medium]

I woke when my head hit the glass. Not the persistent rattle like before — head lolled against the window, full weight pressed against the edge of my right ear — but hard enough to bruise.

I’d had my head pressed against it so long that all I could feel was the throbbing of the glass against my ear as the coach moved down the motorway, against my ear like a conch shell but I didn’t hear the ocean.

All I could hear was the road — different speeds produced their own vibration. I’d sleep and it was always the same dream of the road, dreams of where you are now, not where you are going. I’d jump back awake at sudden turns in the road.

The coach had stopped. People were talking up front as the driver got out of his seat and said, ‘This will only take a minute.’ As he got off the coach, he pressed the overhead button; the door closed behind him.

I scratched my left wrist until I made my eczema weep. Then I remembered the man sat next to me and stopped, the Japanese man with his daughter. She was a little too big to be carried but the coach was full when he got on, so he’d sat the whole time with the girl on his knee.

My jeans had a hole at the knee. I sat up and searched around for my coat, the long black coat I bought in Paris. It must have slipped from my lap whilst I was asleep. I pulled it up from the floor, back over my legs, and clutched it in one hand to cover the knee with the hole.

At first, all I could see out of the window was the little girl reflected in the glass, her round face and big brown eyes, wide open, eyes that knew more than they should just from looking, twin moons trying to make sense of the world. Then behind her I saw something heaped limp and bloody in the middle of the road.

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