As blinding smoke billowed across the interstate, Paige strained to make out the car in front of her. She was already late for class, and now this blasted fire had the heavy Friday traffic more jammed than usual. Too late, she saw the cherry red of brake lights. WHAM. The airbag smothered her, and now her vision was blocked by white instead of black. UGHH. Why now, God?!? Rubbernecking drivers steered around her car as the airbag slowly deflated. Cautiously, she got out to see whose day she had ruined. She froze in place. Stunned and embarrassed, she watched a fireman in uniform get out of his car.
He took a quick look at his fender. "I don't see any damage. And I'm afraid I don't have time to wait on a police report - I've been called to a fire." He gave her a friendly grin, and Paige wanted to shrink into the concrete.
"Wait!" Hastily she grabbed her purse and fumbled for paper and a pen. Coughing and tearing from the smoke, she scribbled her name and cell number. As she handed it to him, a breeze cleared the air. She saw that, not only was he a fireman, he was a very handsome, young, fireman. Flustered, she stuttered, "Um, yes, I can uh, see. You're a fireman. Well, uh, please call me. I mean call me if you change your mind. Or… whatever…" Aggh! When will I EVER learn how to talk to a man? I'm 22 years old, for crying out loud! I'm such a dolt. He thinks I'm a TOTAL idiot now. Miserable, Paige slunk back behind her wheel.
He gave her another grin and a wave as he pocketed the wrinkled receipt she had written on and jumped back in his car. As he sped away, Paige muttered to herself and struggled to move the now-deflated airbag so she could leave also.
"In a memorable epigram the historian Richard Hofstadter stated: "Memory is the thread of personal identity jwioud dcmcatcae dioedild…." The words ran together on the page of Paige's Christian History textbook. She was already bored stiff after just the first sentence. WHAT was I thinking taking this class? This is NOT what signed up for. Paige had THOUGHT this class would be a fun and interesting elective to fill her schedule the last semester of college. Not only that, it might even make her parents happy for a change. Being home, alone, studying, on a Saturday night is depressing enough. Images of the good-looking fireman filled her daydreams, but the jingle of her cell's ring-tone jolted her back to the present. She greedily snatched the phone from the nightstand, welcoming a diversion from studying. She didn't recognize the number, but answered it anyway – even a wrong number would be better than reading anymore of that monotonous book.
"Yes?" she answered curiously. Something in his voice sounded familiar.
"This is Tim. We met yesterday on the interstate?"
Paige was so overwhelmed, she could not utter a word.
Tim apparently mistook her silence. "You rear-ended me. The fireman, remember?"
"Oh, yes, I remember you!" she finally gushed. Ok, Lord, help me stay cool, and don't let me say anything stupid. "So, how was the fire?" UGH, that was stupid!! "I mean, how are you?"
"I'm okay, no damage. And the fire is out, too." He chuckled at her gaffe. "No casualties, praise God. But I wanted to check with you, make sure YOU were ok. You know you need to take your car to the shop to have your airbag replaced?"
"You are so sweet! I'm fine. And my dad told me the same thing about the car. I'm going to make an appointment on Monday." Yea! I made it through a whole sentence without embarrassing myself. Thank you, Lord! "My dad's a fireman, too, back in Des Moines." She strove to not be a stammering fool.
Tim said slowly, "Look, I know we don't really know each other, but I'd like to. Um, there's a concert at my church tomorrow evening. Would you be interested in going?"
After chatting a few minutes more, making plans, Paige hung up glowing and excited. She dropped to her knees and gave thanks. She had been waiting so long to meet a Christian man. She was tired of frat boys who were interested only in parties and sex.
How ironic. God, who is the all-consuming fire, and the unquenchable fire, sends me a fire-fighter!
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