That was the feeling: that jarring car-forward feeling. That perfect numbness of spirit and head. Jitterbugs in the stomach all day, and then when you finally see her—finally—the voice that buzzes in your ear somewhere down a phone line suddenly crackles clear and there's her face pasted at a steering wheel and this is where she enters your world, this is the moment, the line crossed. You adjust and readjust your shoulders and your feet. Her car has a roofrack, one yellow bungee cord dangling off with umbilical tenderness.
When you've got on your way, after you've told her to stay in the car and not to worry, you climb in the front seat beside her and you latch up your seatbelt so you're still held apart. It's as if—you think—it's as if you can't bear the impossible human heat that reality brings. The things you've told her, the things you've written, you've hardly felt closer to another person: but here, now, it's different. You're all awkward smiles and half-turned heads and she's silhouetted by sunlight so that one eye is visible through the tea-tree tint of her sunglasses and it's carmine green.
You slip to talk of books and films. Music especially. She lets you choose. She lets you trace one finger across her music, gently rolling out your choices. You let the melodies fill the empty space. Then you're watching the lines of a mountain, the static flash of signposts. You feel so spent already, like there's a thousand years of history crammed beneath your tongue.
You okay, she asks.
And you say, Fine fine fine.