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‘Today is gonna be the day…”

A sign slicing by reports only four hundred kilometres until Johannesburg, before being lost behind me. Lost in the dead flat Free State fields. I’m not checking the mirror today. There’s enough behind me.

“Backbeat, the word is on the street that the fire in your heart is out”

Oasis’ Wonderwall plays hot, sound mixing with warm air and parched agricultural dust. Reaching down for water and leaving a single lazy hand on the wheel, I smile at Sam – fast asleep in the passenger seat. Her dark glasses throw the sun angrily back. In high school all the cool kids liked Oasis. Like many things at boys-only schools, it was popular because girls liked it. I never knew who they were. One of many things missed in the ordinary course of growing up.

“I don’t believe that anybody feels the way I do about you now.”

Take a look back. The slicing sign little more than a spec, but the second’s glance isn’t looking there. It’s looking past, into the long, warm afternoon, willing the air to dance a little longer in the tail of the car as the music gently ends.

Reach forward. Punch the keys. Repeat.

“There are many things I’d like to say to you”

Wonderwall. Wonder. Wonder if being gregarious a little earlier would have meant being a different person when we met. Would have meant being a little less eager, naive. A little less quick with my words, a little less quick to believe in forever. Forever, as it turns out, is the tarmac slicing the fields in an endless measured line. The landscape beyond ruled according to someone else’s plans.

“And all the roads we have to walk are winding”

Sam sleeps on. Long distance driving is a tax, last night was a little too large. It’s easier to simply put your head down, stop thinking and sleep. Stop thinking.  Stop. Quiet.

Punch keys. Repeat.

From somewhere up ahead, dust floats in through the aircon, at the mercy of some chaotic air currents. A passenger, but one carrying scent, heat, memory all of its own. Another sign slices past and we are a little closer. I’m killing the distance dead. I’m slicing signs. I’m reeling off the words between places. Between her and I. Between was and am. Between never thought and can’t stop remembering.

“I said maybe, you’re gonna be the one that saves me.”

“You’re gonna be the one that saves me”

The song ends. Sam starts to snore a little. The dust dances while I smile, we drive right on.