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The FedEx truck before us constantly sloshes water onto our windshield. Looking through that front window is like trying to see your reflection in a mirror after a hot shower. I wonder who works out the logistics of FedEx employees; who decides where all of them eat and sleep? Do they live such lonely lives that they can unroot themselves at any moment? The wipers whip back and forth as if each time a monumental weight has been lifted, and their years of suspension can finally break free. But they don’t quite finish the job, so it’s a sort of game of luck when you switch from one lane to another, the prize being you don’t get rammed by an SUV going 80 mph and become one with the median. But I trust my dad. He’s experienced. And my mom is sick, so if something happened to him, I don’t know who would drive me to school. He looks so calm sitting over there. I wonder if I’ll get silver hair at a young age, because my dad has silver hair.
I shuffle click next play all the songs on my playlist seven times over to occupy my ears for the long ride. I get to one of those songs I don’t know, but I seem to recognize, like maybe it was my favorite song, then someone erased my brain, but there’s still something, one little chemical drop in my head that feels that high and bumps that beat.
The car ahead of me boasts an “I Climbed Mt. Washington” sticker. I wonder if they only sell those at the top of Mt. Washington, so you really have to climb it to get one. Then you could go to the top and buy a whole bunch and sell them for a fortune, because people could pretend they climbed it when they really didn’t. People love to lie.
There is a second where I can see out the front window, and the sun seems like it’s setting. It’s that weird orangey-pink that reminds me of a watercolor-painting of flowers. In front of the clouds is this airplane, and it looks like it’s almost completely vertical. Straight up to Heaven or something.
My dad has to pee, so we pull into a gas station. He turns the car off, and walks through the glass doors to the back where the bathroom must be. The two men working behind the counter look like me at a football game. Clearly bathroom breaks are their big business, but they have microwave pasta and abusive relationships to get home to. It’s also Mother’s Day, but I doubt anyone cares.
A bald husky man with short sleeves and tat sleeves exits the glass door and slides into my car. He sits in the driver seat and stares forward while inching his arm toward my upper thigh. He strokes it, and without removing my headphones I say no. He plays with the button of my shirt. I remove one earbud and say no. He looks defeated and exits the car. I’m glad because the other earbud was not coming out.
My dad comes out of the bathroom and exchanges glances and smiles with tattoo man when they switch spots through the glass door. When he turns on the car, I see this dead bird in the pool of light in front of us. It had been run over so many times it was like a piece of paper. I could roll that bird up and use it to get high.
We are back on the road. The sky is colored like that of expensive wine, and the moon covered itself up in the clouds to stay warm. We climb back onto the highway. My dad and I play the license plate game; pretty simple, whoever spots the license plate from the farthest state wins. And he always wins. And I always have to google a map. I can’t remember how everything is aligned.
There’s a rough section to my left. The houses all look similar but not in a nice way like at my grandparent’s neighborhood. The paint dives off the wall in some places, like even it would do anything to leave that house. The door looks like the cheapest temporary option you can get at Lowe’s after a storm ripped off your other one, and the windows are all closed with those white shades you see in public restrooms, but these ones had been hacked it and ripped apart. The people sit outside in little plastic chairs that are ending their life to keep them up. Their clothes don’t really cover them, which is crazy because in my mind it’s cold outside. I even have my seat warmer on. It was getting pretty cold in there. The car was almost getting uncomfortable.
High above this ground-dwelling area is a big billboard with a naked blonde woman on the front. It’s for some Gentleman’s club. She screams sex into every driver’s eyes until they begin to bleed or their wives begin to rant. My dad seems completely uninterested. Like he’d rather die than touch that sick lady.
I’ve chewed my gum for so long now that it no longer chews like Christmas. It’s stale. Like chewing rubber. The sloshing sloshing sloshing continues. Like a water slide at a nice resort.
I open my eyes in a bed. Not my bed though. There’s a lot of people around. I hear the cliché beep beep from the machine that traces green mountains. People seem rushed, but I really can’t tell. A bomb of flowers and cards has clearly gone off in the room. And a creepy plush bear stares at me and reads “We’re Beary Sorry.” On one side of me is a curtain with a shadowed man behind it. I’m sure it’s my dad. My dad has a lot of doctors too. I don’t even get pudding or something fun like that. I become tired, so I turn to face the curtain and lay my head on the pillow. One blue gowned doctor woman has to move from me to my dad, so she quickly opens the curtain between us.
The man on the other side of the curtain was bald though, and my dad has silver hair.

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