A chance of Knowing


Tara had fifteen minutes to make it to work, so there was no way to avoid the railroad. When she turned left, she saw the towering guard rail and sign, “Please don’t flash red.”

For nearly three months she’d steered clear of the tracks. The closer she drove the more feverish she felt. She tried to roll down her broken window but her sweaty hands and weak grip made it impossible. Her foot weighed down the petal. “Not now, Tara. It will all work out.” 

Her foot slipped and the car lagged, spilling her protein shake over her new running shoes. “Crap.” She leaned over to wipe the chocolate film off the carpet and pick up the shoe. The time on dashboard made her heart beat faster. She had no time to waste.

A blue pickup truck pulled in front of her and she couldn’t see past the camper shell. “Oh man, I can’t see the spruce tree. Goosebumps crawled up her arm and a vision flashed before her eyes of a little boy picking up rocks to throw between the railroad tracks.

“No!” Tara yelled, shaking her head. The illusion faded. “This is different.” Tara denied the possibility of seeing this boy while awake.

The sweet innocence of the golden haired child haunted Tara the most. Dreams weren’t reality, but Tara had avoided this area to make sure.

Without warning, the truck stopped. Tara slammed on her brakes to avoid hitting the back bumper. A loud screech echoed in her ears.

The bell rang as the cross arm dropped.

On the verge of tears, Tara covered her face, “How can this be happening? This is real life!”

When Tara opened her eyes all she saw was the back end of the truck. In the reoccurring dream, her silver Honda sat between the little boy and the train. Repeatedly, she had listened to the squeal of halting brakes, which always made her blood turn cold. But this was different. She couldn’t see the track. Was the boy there?

Exiting the car, she ran in her high heels to the crossing. Inconsistencies made Tara doubt this had anything to do with the dream plaguing her nights. In the nightmare, the tender boy threw his rocks over the tracks as he walked along side the rail but he wasn’t there.

The blaring truck horn paled in comparison to the monstrous honk of the oncoming train. Tara waved her hand acknowledging the truck’s warning with a sigh of relief. “Thank heavens.”

When she turned to leave, something red by the tree caught her eye. She turned just as the boy stepped on the rail. His back faced her.

How could he not sense the train behind him, or even hear it?

There was no time to analyze. The train was coming fast. Tara sprinted and threw herself around the boy’s tiny frame. They both tumbled to the ground, but Tara’s foot didn’t clear the track in time. The train seared passed the rail without hearing Tara scream in agony.

Despite the pain, victory flooded her heart; the young boy was safe.

Darkness sank into Tara’s mind as all lights went out.

She woke up in a hospital bed with her leg in a sling.

The beep from the monitors alarmed her. “Where am I?” She noticed the IV in her arm.

Her mother sprang out of the chair. “It’s okay. Everything is okay.” She held Tara’s hand.

“Where’s the boy?” Tara tried to move but an intense pain shot through her leg.

“Take it easy, dear.” Her mother caressed her arm.“The boy is home with his mother. They’re the ones who sent all these flowers.” The room looked like a flower garden. “They’re so thankful you rescued their deaf son.”


“Yes, his mother tried to watch him from the end of her street but got distracted. You saved his life.”

The memory of sheltering the boy flashed before her eyes.

“For months my dreams were haunted. I never saw him get crushed by the train, but I heard the brakes and assumed the worst.”

“I understand.” Her mother kissed her forehead. “The train never used his brakes. You both appeared on the scene too fast. The only brakes others reported hearing were yours, all before the train came.”

Tara frowned. “Why did I have that strange dream then?”

“Maybe the dream helped you be in the right place at the right time.” Her mother smiled.

“Then why didn’t it happen the way I dreamed it? The pickup was never in my dream,” Tara lifted up slightly and winced.

“Let me get the nurse. They don’t want you hurting.” Her mother pushed the nurse’s button and said, “Maybe the truck forced you out on the road where you needed to be.”

“In the dream, the boy was never between the tracks, he always walked on my side where I could see him.”

“Honey, you were precisely were you needed to be to make a difference.”

“If this was God’s way of protecting the boy why wouldn’t he just have . . .”

Her mother tapped her finger over Tara’s lips. “‘Be still and know that He is God.’”

Tara stared out the window in a daze.

The nurse came in with medication and started the blood pressure cuff. “You made the news tonight, you’re quite the celebrity.” She pulled out her pen. “Sorry you won’t be running marathons anymore, but at least you still have your foot.” The nurse jotted down numbers in her file.

A quiet peace settled deep within Tara’s bones, she’d helped God protect one of his little ones.

In the corner of her eye she saw a little blonde boy, she turned toward the door where the precious deaf child held his mother’s hand. Any remorse of not being able to run melted away after seeing his big smile.

He pointed in excitement and signed with his hands. His mother said, “I know, that is the nice lady who gave you the hug.”


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