Our car boiled over again just after my mother and I crossed the Continental Divide. While we were waiting for it to cool we heard, from somewhere above us, the bawling of an air-horn. The sound got louder and then a big truck came around the corner and shot past us into the next curve, its trailer shimmying wildly. We stared after it. My mother said, ‘Oh, Toby, he’s lost his brakes.’

The sound of the horn grew distant, then faded in the wind that sighed in the trees all around us.

Quite a few people were standing along the cliff where the truck went over by the time we got there. It had smashed through the guard-rails and fallen through hundreds of feet of empty space to the river below, where it lay on its back among the boulders. It looked pitifully small. A stream of thick black smoke rose from the cab, feathering out in the wind. My mother asked whether anyone had gone to report the accident. Someone had. We stood with the others at the cliffs edge. Nobody spoke. My mother put her arm around my shoulder.

A Letter to Our Son