The stormy weather finally came back. It opened up a vein that was wide and heavy and never stopped, the first rainfall since June. Everything was thick with water and greyness.
Simon would have ensured there was no dust on the Accord to be spotted by rain, thought Maryam. Simon would have tinkered with everything under the hood in anticipation of winter. He would have carved pumpkins, taken hot drinks with her, talked to her, tucked the kids in.
Maybe not. Maryam knew she needed to bank more reality checks.
She was driving south on the Sea to Sky Highway with the children; the rising wind was laced with rain that bound itself to the droughty ground. She was dropping the kids off at Simon's new condo in Yaletown. It was the home he now shared with Anne, Anne who came out of nowhere but had apparently been everywhere.
Michael would miss nursery school for one day. He and 20-month-old Shula were having their first overnight visit with their father since the Shattering. Maryam was trying to embrace the new normal; she knew she was certainly better off without a liar and a cheat. Simon hadn't seen the children for weeks; he would bring them back. And then what?
Maryam wasn't managing everything yet. The tension and grief was like a medicine ball sitting in her solar plexus. She vomited at work, and Clive, the ginger-dreadlocked Londoner who managed deliveries, saw her slam the bathroom door shut and heard the retching.
"Are you all right?" he asked her afterwards. Maryam liked the kid, as she saw the friendly 20-year-old. She briefly explained the pending visit to Simon's as they walked to his truck in the lot. She was cut short by something new that was stuck on the truck's grill.
"Pooh Bear!" she said with horror.
Clive had tied a toddler-sized Winnie-the-Pooh, Disney version, on the grill of his cab. It looked grotesque. It was bigger than Shula. He grinned, Pooh Bear grinned wider. It wore a red t-shirt that said Pooh. Maryam thought the t-shirt clashed with Clive's hair.
"Bagged him in the charity shop. I thought it would be wicked to put him on the juggernaut," he said
"Juggernaut" was Clive's name for his delivery truck. He told Maryam that juggernaut was what the British called large lorries, and "lorry" was another word they used for truck.
In this case, Clive used "juggernaut" ironically because it was neither a very large lorry nor a very big truck. Clive could never get everything in it that needed moving. Some days it was ridiculously, and dangerously crammed. The owner promised more investment, a bigger juggernaut, but so far there was no tangible commitment.