Panic on the Highway 山路历险记 （2）
 I gave him a weak smile and said good
night. But later as I tossed and turned in bed, I couldn't chase
away the apprehension I had about the high driving ahead. The more
I tried not to think about it, the more my mind kept going back
to that helpless feeling of panic I had on the first leg of the
journey. My fear seemed to possess a life of its own. You're being
childish , I chided myself. This is ridiculous ! If I could just
close my eyes and relax, I thought, the renewal of a good night's
sleep would drive the fear away.
 But it didn't go away. All through the
flatlands of Arkansas, Oklahoma , north Texas and New Mexico it
lay like a coiled snake inside of me. When we approached the high
plateau of northern Arizona it began to stir. As the grades grew
steeper and the curves sharper, my sense of control faltered, "It's
all in your head," I kept repeating desperately. "There
is no danger. It's all in your head."
 Yet I couldn't defeat the terror. Mile
after mile it was like an invisible force drawing my attention toward
the edge of the road where the soft shoulder gave way to thin air.
I tried everything I could think of. I cranked up the radio. Sang
songs. Recited poetry. All to no avail. The palms of my hands were
so sweaty that I had to squeeze the steering wheel to keep my grip.
 I kept closing the gap between my car
and my brother's truck, inching toward the reassuring glow of the
taillights like a frightened sheep following a shepherd. I could
see Mac watching me in his rearview mirror , and that night at supper
in Kingman, Arizona, he said, "Leigh, you're tailgating . You're
much too close for these mountain roads." He studied my face
for a moment, then added, "Tomorrow will be the last day of
high country. Just try to hang in there. We've got this far okay.
You know there's nothing to be afraid of."
 I understood that. I had to go on. But
the prospect of hairpin turns and sheer drop-offs made it impossible
for me to eat any supper. Mac tried to keep the conversation breezy,
but it didn't help. I excused myself early and went to bed, exhausted.