Book of Days: June 30, Small God of the Road

Long afterward, I came upon it again, a small stone statue at the cross-roads. The first time, of course, those cross-roads had been the exchange between a highway and the turn to the city. The on-ramp and the off-ramp, and everyone moving by at speeds far too fast to stop and see a little stone figure at the centre of it all. I never would have noticed, except my little sister had an eye of Instagram opportunities and begged our mother to pull over so she could take a photo.

That, of course, was given the “hell, no” it deserved, what with the speed limit and our mother’s tenancy to travel right at it (but never even a touch above). My sister complained bitterly about the missed opportunity all the way home, where she plunked herself down at the computer immediately and pulled the cross-roads up on Google maps.

No statue. She tried it from every angle, spinning around the street view, but it didn’t matter. Whoever had put the statue there had done so after the Google-truck had trundled on by. My sister was determined, however, and not above bribery. I’m sad to say, I have a price, even for something as stupid as pulling off to the side of the highway.

We went at night, when our mother thought we were still at a movie, on the assumption traffic would be less at that hour. It wasn’t less enough to comfort me, but I didn’t feel like getting rear-ended was a guarantee, so that was a plus. I pulled mom’s little Corolla over to the side, flicked on the hazard lights, and hoped against hope no one stopped to ask us what we were doing. If they did, though, my sister could be the one to explain it. I would just point at her and let her take the floor.

The statue looked like something off a country road. Maybe even a country road in an entirely different country. That second part wasn’t such an odd thing. There’s plenty of stuff in Canada that looks like it came from somewhere else, and some of it even did, but the whole country-shrine thing, that wasn’t so usual. It reminded me of stories I’d heard, though I couldn’t remember the origins, of Small Gods. Little shrines to the deities who looked after the little things, maybe even ones that were really just long-departed ancestors, but the ones who would be inclined to care about the small everyday stuff the Big Gods were likely to overlook.

I don’t know if there was a Big God that took care of traffic, seeing everyone home again safe, but if there wasn’t, I could see a Small God being placed for just that. This section of highway didn’t have one of those “Fatality” signs that creeped the hell out of me, but it looked like it could get one at some point. Even with the late hour and the hazards, I worried about mom’s car sitting there while my sister was taking shots from all angles, just to make certain she got the best one.

The Corolla survived the night just fine, as did we, though mom saw the picture on my sister’s feed when she posted it the next day and almost had a fit. I didn’t think she’d even been listening to my sister complain about the missed opportunity of the small statue photo, but apparently she had been, because she knew where it had been taken, even though the location wasn’t tagged.

She wasn’t the only one, though she put it together faster, thanks to having an inside track. My sister spent the next week complaining about the copy-cats who’d gone to take photos of her statue. It seemed petty to me, given she certainly hadn’t put it there, even if she had risked our necks and mom’s car to get the first photo we knew of.

Maybe there was something out there that agreed with her, though. It didn’t take long before that cross-road earned a fatality sign. Someone hadn’t taken the precaution of going when the traffic was less, had just pulled over to the side of the road during rush hour. Some dumbass, more concerned with their pace than getting home safely, slammed into the car, even though it was pulled over onto a shoulder that was almost the side of a lane. Knocked the parked car off the shoulder, onto the grass, and into the person taking the photo. Kid, too, in high school, still enough of a minor they didn’t release their name.

City had a whole deal about safety concerns while taking photographs. Reminded me a little of all the pieces that flooded the web when that AR game came out years before and had about as much of an impact. Even my sister, who still takes stupid risks for the perfect shot, said, “That could have been us!”

I’d always thought the Small God must have been destroyed in the accident. I mean, I didn’t see anymore pictures of it, which seemed like proof enough. But they’d closed the cross-road for renovations, the attraction of the small statue wasn’t even the biggest danger it turned out, and I decided to check and see.

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by | Jun 30, 2021