The two women hadn’t said a thing. The older woman in the driver’s seat focused on centering her rig on the scale at the same time her scared young passenger worked to catch her breath. The driver handed her papers to a Canadian highway official and rolled up her window. She turned to talk to the passenger just in time to see a vehicle rapidly approaching through the window.
“Is that friend or foe?” she said in a substantial Canadian accent.
Brynn peered out the window to her right. The vehicle in question bounced along the dirt road and Brynn caught a quick glimpse of the side of it. She knew it was the van she had been riding in just minutes earlier.
“Foe,” she said and she started to breath heavy again.
“Climb in the back. There’s a compartment underneath the bed where I store my dirty clothes. Roll into it, then pull the clothes in after you,” The woman said without turning to Brynn.
Brynn did what the woman said to do. Lying in the dark, stuffy compartment, she closed her eyes. The compartment smelled of musty cigarette smoke and stale beer, and she covered her face with her shirt and started to count to keep her mind from deteriorating into mush.
She had counted to 162 when she heard the loud banging on the truck door.
“What do you want?” the driver barked.
“We’re looking for my sister. She’s run away from our group,” the man’s voice said. Brynn thought it sounded like Andy and she pinched her eyes together as tightly as she could.
“I haven’t seen her.”
“Did you see a young girl wandering around? Please, ma’am, she suffers from mental illness.”
“Nope. I haven’t seen any women around her all night except for that window clerk,” the driver said, pointing at the woman working behind the large glass window inside the weigh station.
The man turned to look at the building. The same worker that had taken the papers from the driver rig briskly advanced the cab. “Sir, you can’t be out here on foot.”
“But my sister. We’re looking for my sister.”
“I don’t care if you’ve lost the Queen of Sheba. You’re not permitted to be on or near the scales on foot. Return to your vehicle immediately,” the worker said.
Brynn exhaled carefully, but to her ears, it sounded like a foghorn. Before the worker could escort him away from the truck, Andy climbed up and looked into the cab. Seeing nothing but an unmade bed, he glanced at the older woman before jumping to the ground and running to the van.
The truck pulled off the scales, and Brynn didn’t move until the heat from the vibration of the truck below her became unbearable. She climbed out from underneath the bed and slowly peered into the cab of the truck. The woman looked at her through the rear-view mirror and pointed at the passenger seat. Brynn climbed to the seat and fastened her seat belt before turning to the woman.
“Thank you for the ride, and for hiding me.”
“Was that the creep that’s been hurtin’ you?” the older woman asked. Sitting in a dirty sweater, frayed, fingerless gloves and a crooked beanie cap, the woman had to be in her early sixties. Brynn could see a small piece of gray hair sticking out from the cap as her eyes traveled down from the hair to her wrinkled, pale face.
“No, that was his friend. The creep was probably looking elsewhere.”
“Was he abusing you?”
“Yes,” she said. “My name is Brynn.”
“I’m Penner.” She glanced at Brynn before quickly refocusing on the road.