The road stretched before our car, thumping under all four tires. All around us desert and mountains stretched for miles.
“Nothing. Absolutely nothing.” I thought and loved it. This was my favorite part of our family road trip. It meant that we had finally left our home state and were now plunging headlong into a new adventure.
“Honey,” my mother said from the front seat to my father, “Pay attention to the road, you’re drifting.”
I smiled as my father nodded and pointed the front of his hat to the windshield. He loved this part of the journey as well, I could tell. The car always wandered between the white broken lines on the road.
My two siblings slept, their bodies fidgeting with dreams. I sighed and looked out the window again. We were traveling up the pass, and hills were transforming into mountains.
And that was when it happened. The rumble of an engine shifting gears from behind. It was a comforting sound, one that I had been listening to the entire trip. From behind us, an engine roared and a rusted bumper came into my view. The car swayed to the right shoulder and mom cried out.
“Richard! Pay attention! You’re going to get us killed!”
We all jumped in our seats and I almost looked away from the passing truck. It was covered in dust, it’s paint job having long since rusted out. Stained windows reflected bug smears and even more dirt. But for a moment the sun disappeared behind the roof of the cab.
I stopped squinting and looked into through the window. An aged man gripped a slightly bent steering wheel. A cigarette was clamped firmly between gnarled lips. He was bawled, with skin the same dusty worn color as his truck. He stared resolutely out the windshield ignoring our car.
Next to him sat a younger person. I could tell because they were shorter and had smooth white skin. Bib overalls hung loose, over skinny shoulders that sat hunched down in their seat. I felt a chill run to my bones as I watched a ragged towel bounce over the child’s head.
It wasn’t right. The cloth laid over the kid’s face as if hiding the child from view. I only saw the pair for a total of five seconds, while my mother continued to scold my father. But time stopped for me. I saw a rigid back, etched with terror. The kid sat stalks still, unmoved by car nor bumpy road.
I knew, deep in my heart this was wrong, it was all wrong. The light from the late afternoon sun wasn’t even on the kids face, so why would they need it to be covered.
I opened my mouth to say something, but the engine of the truck revved even more and before I could get anything out the truck was gone down the road.
Our car was slowing down. Broken from the trance I looked around and realized we were pulling off to a rest top. Ahead of us, the old truck disappeared into the mountains.