A crunching of rubber on the gravel causes her head to jerk suddenly up, alert. She’d been nodding off, propped against the gritty wheel arch of a semi trailer truck who’s captain was off satisfying his proclivity for “a pie, ginger beer and a yak with Sandy” in the sun bleached truck stop across the ragged yard. She hears the nearby wheels roll to a stop, the sound of car doors being flung open and of hyperactive children leaping to freedom after their lengthy backseat captivity to run manic laps of celebration, chastised feebly by the half arsed requests of exhausted parents. “Slow Down. Come Back.”
April picks up the book she’d been valiantly fumbling through while she waited dozily for her ride to finish his most recent conquest of Sandy the truck stop cashier. She lies the book open across her face. The sun is well and truly up now and the harsh outback rays begin to make her have to squint which, given the increasing amount of life in the vicinity, could be misconstrued as angst. April doesn't want that. This trip is about being open to all possibilities, she thinks, and first impressions are important. This trip is about going with the flow. Making changes. Anyway, It’d gotten her this far... Hadn’t she chanced upon this lift with Deano, the operator of the matte-black machine she was currently slumped stiff-necked against, by being open?
She’d been a fair bit of the way out of town on in the grizzly greens beside the highway with her thumb stuck out pointing nowhere to the night when Dean had pulled over, a little up the road ahead of her and offered a lift from out a half sprung dirty window. They’d wailed south for three hours with Deano bleating on for most of it about the “best bloody pies on Route 89,” but April suspected it was more to do with the cashier who kept appearing in the stories that really made his voice twang with a gruff sheepish excitement. Sandy was her name and April had soon learned that Sandy had chestnut hair, loved old black and white movies, rode a yellow scooter with punk bands stickers all over the basket and has worked at the roadhouse truck stop for as long as he - Deano – had been doing his route. April smiled to herself as Deano continued his oblivious elaboration on details such as these that seemed to her, somewhat irrelevant to the quality of the infamous pies. Eventually they had turned off the highway making a bee line towards a neon BP servo sign, glinting in peaceful contradiction with the slowly encroaching dawn light.
“Ill wait for you here,” April had told him with an encouraging wink, “And read my book.”
Deano practically skipped across the dusty lot, through automatic doors into a fluorescently lit cafeteria where she’d watched him pull a stool right up to the counter before the frosted glass doors had closed on the scene.
Now, at least an hour later she wondered cheerily how he was getting on, picturing the salt-of-the-earth man perched awkwardly on a vinyl stool hovering above an over sauced, half forgotten pie as he swaps hopeful words with a thirty-something tired-eyed, name-tagged ‘Sandy.’ Maybe their hands touch as she passes him a serviette to dab at that bit of sauce he’s missed on the front of his Hi-vis skivvy? They probably both smile, look away at the news on the telly, uncertain what to say next…
April hops up from her daydreaming against the trucks wheel and hoists her back pack onto her shoulder, feeling it's about time to get moving again on her own story. She walks beside the trailer to the drivers side window and pulls herself up level with it. She licks the end of her finger a little and with the tip of it, paints a message into the thick layer of dirt and bug.
“Deano + Sandy.” She writes. And also “thanks for everything.” And finally “:-)” then she lowers herself back down, looks both left and right a moment, then crunches off across the gravel and tufts of dead grass in the direction of nowhere.