My heart leapt into my throat when I saw him in the distance. His arm was straight out with his thumb rigidly upwards. He trudged down the lane into the future, without turning for hope of a ride.
I took calming breaths and remembered my foray into hitchhiking or ‘tramping’ as it was known over there. One day, eager for adventure, I’d stuck out my thumb, quivering with a mixture of fear and excitement. I’d been about to give up when a lorry stopped.
I’d climbed into the cab and given my first name and destination with halting painful speech. He’d responded and I‘d smiled, scooting well into the door of the cab. I’d pretended to sleep until I’d recognised the outskirts of the city. I‘d thanked him profusely for deliverance to my destination unscathed.
But that was gentler times. Now it is the driver who worries. What should I do? That familiar sweat of fear popped out.
I contemplated driving past and leaving him in my mirror. This road though was hardly ever used. He’d be lucky to get another car before nightfall. I wound down my window and listened for tractors, saws, off-roadsters, anything.
I glanced in my mirror, no vehicle coming to my rescue. I had a choice to make, which was no choice at all. I slowed and beeped. He stopped as I neared.
“I can take you to the road’s end if that’s any help? A couple of miles further on…”
I left it for him to decide.
He grinned and sauntered around the front of the car to the passenger seat.
“Thanks,” he said as he settled in, “I’m Miles, so if there are a couple further on I’d love to meet them.”
I stared. Oh, a joke. I relaxed.
I shouldn’t have.