They’d been walking for three hours. The car had run out of gas that far back. She’d stayed with him, but she still hadn’t told him her name.
Interestingly enough, he didn’t feel like he needed to know her name, not at that moment. She’d given him peace the very moment she got in the car with him, her presence washing over his atmosphere with a something akin to light.
He laughed on the inside. He knew his thoughts were foolish especially since he was thinking them about a complete stranger one who avoided the mention of her name even though she kept speaking one to him over and over again, Jesus.
At first hearing that name jolted him with the same force as the headlights that had come head-on in his direction, cutting through the fog like a hateful knife. He’d managed to swerve away from impact, his tires eating through the grass that lay just off the road.
Then he saw her, really, it was her coat that coat his attention, peaking out like a beacon just a few yards ahead of him. He wasn’t one to usually pick up a stranger. He left that job to Uber, but something about her seemed . . . safe, comforting after his heart tried to launch itself through the top of his head.
At first, she was silent. She’d said her thank you’s and then smiled warmly. As soon as they’d made it a little less than a mile up the road she started talking. She’d questioned him really, asked where he was from, where he was going, why he was alone.
None of it was her business. The questions actually caused familiar flames to lick up the walls of his belly. He didn’t want to think about where he was from. He had no intention of ever going back there. There was nothing left for him after Danielle filed for divorce. The irony was she was the guilty one. And yes he was livid, more so, he was bleeding inside, cut off at the knees by her confession but he still wanted to try and work things out.
Twenty years was nothing to just toss away, not without trying. They married straight out of highschool. Their roots were too deep to just yank up. Something had to be salvageable. Still, she would accept his forgiveness. That hurt him even worse. There he was giving her his heart again even after she’d torn it out and she refused to take it for guilt. It didn’t make sense to him.
Where was he going, the passenger had asked. He wanted to ask her the same question but couldn’t for the simple fact that he was stunned by his own lack of an answer. He had no idea where he was going. He was just driving, driving away from the hurt and the darkness.
Why he was alone seemed obvious, at least to him. He jokingly told her that he only had one seat open and clearly it was meant for her. That was when she started talking about Jesus, she even said he had made a way for her to get a ride, that they were meant to meet.
He politely smiled at each mention of the name Jesus and her gentle telling of his love and grace. He’d always found it too hard for him to wrap his mind around, that the God of all Creation would be so loving and forgiving that even when man had wronged him, created a debt that needed to be paid but could not pay himself, that this same God would become man to pay that very debt because he loved his creation so and he just wanted the pleasure of being loved back.
If all that were true, then he was guilty of that debt. He’d surely messed up enough in his life, he should have died for his own sins. How could he look God in the face and just accept such a sacrifice on his behalf when he didn’t deserve it? The thought made his chest ache, it always did.
After walking with the stranger for three hours he finally stopped and asked her, dropping all of his politeness, spurred on by the sudden parallel that he was seeing in his own unwillingness to accept Jesus and Danielle’s unwillingness to accept him.
“It’s not fair,” he tried to shout but his voice came out with a cracking whisper similar to that of a boy approaching manhood.
“No, but that is why it is love. That is why it is grace.”
She spoke to him some more about grace, the light began to fade and with it went his former denials. He loved Danielle, maybe not like Christ loved him but he wanted to try.
“Will you let him teach you?” the young woman asked, her expression hopeful.
Trembling from the cold or the anticipation of knowing for himself, standing there, in the darkening woods, with fog growing heavier, tears streaming his face, and his broken heart bleeding, he finally said yes.
In an instant, he felt more pain, sharper and deeper than he ever had before. Panic gripped him until he struggled to breath. He fell to his knees. Her arms lead him downward until he was laying on his back, her breath whispering words of peace to him.
“It will be alright,” she said. “You are going to be just fine. Trust Him.”
“Jesus, help me,” he heard the words slipping from his lips even as the noise of the sirens made his ears burn.
-“We’ve got a pulse! He’s back with us and he’s speaking! Sir? Sir? My name is Jennifer and this is officer Healy. You’ve been in a head-on collision. But you are going to be just fine sir, just fine.”
*Wow, so this went in a direction I had not anticipated but that is the fun of creative writing prompts. If you would like to see the original prompt with links to the image and rules to participate see, Monday’s Muse Writing Prompt May 1st, 2017.
~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!