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Maryam saw the soddened bear as the juggernaut whipped past. Pooh was a sorry, droopy sight in the rain but he was still smiling, she thought she caught that. It's not like he could be doing anything else but he was still grotesque, a hunting trophy, the smiling corpse of a familiar beloved friend.
She was sure she saw the hint of red dreadlocked hair before the juggernaut was gone, and she shivered. She realized the children had fallen silent, too. Clive was very early for a Saturday; his deliveries to the city were usually later. But it was a comfort to know his hands made the flashing lights because she trusted him. Something was up ahead. She couldn't see any problems from her vantage point, apart from another vehicle in the distance that she hadn't noticed before heading south.
"Don't worry, I'm very protective of little kids," Clive had told her.
Maryam slowed down further. He would do this for anyone on the road, he couldn't know it was her Accord, everyone has an Accord. Maryam felt the warmth again, gratitude for a general kindness in a time of need and she buried her tears for later.
On the approach to Porteau Bluffs, the most unstable rock face along the entire route, four lanes turn quickly to two; around the blind bend a little further ahead the rail track was squeezed in tight between the ocean, the rock and the highway. It had once been suggested to build a tunnel there but the government said it was too expensive. A geologist friend told Maryam that he always pushed his gas pedal to the floor to get him through the bluffs that much quicker, but on the approach this time Maryam was much slower, heeding the juggernaut.
Grooves cut into the double yellow median lines in the road had over filled with rainwater and reflected Maryam's world, a clipped vision that ran like an old film, frame-by-frame, hypnotic. Trees and rock and feathered clouds and sky. It was moody and beautiful, she thought, forgetting Simon and his misappropriated kisses at last. It was in those watery frames that she first saw the flash as she rounded the corner into the bluffs and she hit her brakes even before she knew she must.
With no traffic behind her and plenty of space, she could slow and stop and see the fire in plenty of time. The end of a southbound freight train had... had somehow derailed onto the highway, crushing a vehicle and hitting the wall.