Somewhere in the distance, a voice was calling me. It sounded far away, slightly muffled, and therefore perfectly easy to ignore. So I figured there couldn't be much harm in doing exactly that.


There it was again, but slightly louder this time. I could detect a growing sense of insistence, like the person wanting my attention was not going to give up easily. But they sounded miles away - by the time they actually got anywhere close, the urgency would surely be enough to wake me.


This time, it wasn't just a voice. All of a sudden, I found myself being shaken abruptly, and my eyes flickered open at once. The side of my face was cold, and it was only when I lifted my head that I realized it had been pressed against the window. Looking around, everything came back to me: I was slumped in the passenger seat of Jacob's truck, map open and crumpled on my lap, with Seb casting me an amused look from my left.

He made a swiping gesture at his mouth, and my own hand flew up instantly. My face began to flush when I felt a spot of damp there. I really needed to kick the habit of drooling while asleep.

"That's attractive," he said, grinning.

"Shut up."

Turning my gaze to the windscreen, I noticed the sun had started to sink lower in the sky, now teetering level with the horizon. The sky was an undecided shade of blue, streaks of orange thrown across as the evening began to settle in. A cursory glance at my phone told me it was just past seven.

"How are you supposed to be checking the map if you're asleep and drooling on the window?" Seb asked.

I picked it up, smoothing out the worst of the creases and attempting to find our earlier position. However, with my vision still fuzzy from sleep, and the diminishing light in the front of the truck, the road lines were transforming into little more than a messy scribble. "How far have we come?"

"We're about halfway through Ohio," he said. "We passed a sign not long ago."

"There's no way we're going to be able to do this in one trip," I told him, giving up on trying to decipher the map and rubbing my eyes. "Are we planning on stopping for the night?"

"Yeah, that sounds good to me."

"Except I've kind of lost our place on the map," I admitted. "So I have no idea how far away the next town is. Or even what it's called."

"You had one job, Ellie," he said, with a look of disapproval in my direction, but I could tell he was joking. "It's okay. I guess we'll keep driving until we see a sign for somewhere. Maybe an unplanned stop will be the next bit of the adventure."

"You keep calling it that," I commented. "Is this whole thing really an adventure to you? I mean, you're about to go backpacking around the world. That's an adventure. Breaking your best friend out of camp seems kind of tame in comparison."

He shrugged, flicking a switch behind the wheel to spark the truck's headlights to life. The road was darkening pretty slowly, but the small circle of light in front of us was comforting all the same. Like those few yards ahead of us made all the difference. "What defines an adventure?" he asked. "We're definitely not supposed to be doing this. And we haven't done anything like it before. So it's not the entire world... but that doesn't mean it's not something."

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