“Mother?” Dale has leaned up now and is staring over her shoulder at the water.
“Shh.” Lara’s eyes are wide. The water is deeper than she thought it might be, but she has made a commitment, and now is no time to stop, to deny God’s commandment, so she gives the engine more gas and feels the car lurch into the current. The force of the water against her door makes the car tilt some, then she feels the back wheels slip with the current.
It is too dark and the rain is falling too hard to tell how much water there is. She looks into the mirror to get a glimpse of her boys, her precious boys, but they are below the view of her angle. Besides, it is too dark for her to see them. Nonetheless, she stares into the mirror for a second then looks again at the creek. They deserve to be rescued. She must push on, whatever the costs. She pulls the gearshift into low and presses on the accelerator. The station wagon eases into the creek.
The light from the yellow headlights disappears into the black eddies. Lara stares at the creek through the momentary clear spot caused by the wipers before the heavy rain makes her view blurred again. She has no idea how deep it might be without a scale of some sort, a tree or a rock that she might recognize and from that, judge just how deep the water is. Perhaps it is up but a foot or so, and her fear is unfounded. But what if it is higher than that? Why has He given her this added test?
She can’t see the water yet, but she knows she doesn’t want to plow into it and kill the motor. That would be awful. They would
be stuck there, or worse. She cannot risk her sons’ lives, especially Dale. It is a terrible responsibility, and she shudders now to think
of it. She has come to a stop just at the edge of the water. The creek has risen, all right, the water swirling past much faster than
normal. Most days, the water trickles along, and crossing is no more adventurous than wading through a puddle. But any time it
rains, the creek rises. Many times they have been stranded back on the farm, unable to get out or to get things in for a day or so ‘til
the water recedes and the road can be traveled again. The light from the yellow headlights disappears into the black eddies. Lara
stares at the creek through the momentary clear spot caused by the wipers before the heavy rain makes her view blurred again.
Oh, sure, he’s great with the children, when he has the energy, playing football or helping them build something trivial that they treasure, although the truth was he and Dale played while Louis watched, that same silent watching he seemed to always do. But Frank’s entire view of the world is so jaded. He had to serve in the military to pay his school loans, and he came back so different after the war, more intense somehow. They got back together when he was released, but it has been different this time. Her understanding of how special she herself is has grown about as much as his view of the world has jaundiced. She has learned to appreciate the voices she hears, to listen to them and not be afraid, and she knows they make her special.
She feels the car dip down into the small valley that borders the creek, and she brakes hard. The station wagon slides, then crunches to a stop in the gravel. Her back is wet – is that the rain she ran through, or perspiration?