My headlights sweep between the legs of the people running along the road. Their long limbs cast longer shadows between the trees and signposts as they match speed with my car.
One of them leaps from the roadside to cross in front of me.
I keep driving.
There is no bump, no hiccup in the contact between my tires and the tarmac: only shadows running beside my car, flitting between the shapes cast by my headlights.
The first time it happened, I came to a screeching halt, my engine stalled, my breathing ragged, and everything shaking as I opened the door and checked the shoulder behind me for the body. I was certain that I'd hit a pedestrian wearing all black and walking on the wrong side of the road, and at the speed I'd been going, there was no way I'd stopped in time.
But as I fell out of my car and scanned the road with the jittery beam of my emergency flashlight, the steady blink of my hazards more hindrance than help to my vision, there was no body to be found.
The only human sound was my radio; the only sign of disturbance, the skid marks my tires had left on the asphalt just past a pothole.
Still, I searched the thick brush edging the road for a body, ignoring the scratches to my skin and tears to my clothes, searching until the radio started playing static and the headlights began to dim.
I never found a body.
No one ever did.
They do not always run beside my car.
Most often, it's on nights when I'm alone and driving home from a long day’s work, half asleep from exhaustion.
Most often, but not always.
My sister is a terrible backseat driver.
She'll point out every mistake I make, even ones I don't, and flip out over other people's driving (in)ability. And if there’s a pedestrian on the side of the road, she makes sure I know with her raised voice and tensed posture, eyes fixed on the clearance between vehicle and body.
Once, while my sister rode shotgun, I commented that the shadows past the headlights looked like people running alongside the car. She snorted. Told me I must really need sleep if I was seeing things like that.
I feel safer driving with a passenger.
I joke, sometimes, that my car is haunted.
I worry, sometimes, that it's true.
I'm not sure if I believe in ghosts.
I think, sometimes, I should.
One of these days, when I'm driving alone and half asleep, without my sister to distinguish the people from the shadows, I'm certain that I will hit a pedestrian—
And keep driving, none the wiser.