The SUV tires rumbled on the wet pavement, lulling Andrea to sleep. She and Karl were among thousands attempting to escape the worst congestion I-95 experienced in years.
A tractor-trailer’s horn startled Andrea; her left foot slammed the car floorboard. “Karl, you okay? You want me to drive?”
Shaking his head, his eyes never left the road. “I’m fine. Besides, I don’t want you driving in these conditions. You’re exhausted, go back to sleep.”
Andrea closed her eyes. “Thanks. I know I should at least talk to you so you can stay awake, but I’m wiped-out, in a fog, ya know? Am I dreaming, or is it true?”
Karl, reaching to pat her gloved hand, smiled. “It’s true.”
Abruptly, she opened her eyes. “Did we do the right thing? Should we have waited? I don’t order in a restaurant that quickly!”
Karl chuckled, muttering under his breath.
Andrea, sitting-up, poked his arm. “Hey you, what’d you say? Don’t make me whoop you.”
“You and how many others?” he teased back.
After 24 hours of stress, Andrea needed some levity. Not all her planning, organizational charts, checklists, or experience as an event coordinator, had kept Andrea from failing.
Before laying back down, she looked out the windshield, “Wow, things have gotten much worse. It’s a sheet of ice out there. This is so insane. I warned you nothing in my life is ever normal.”
Friday, Valentine’s Day, meant only two days to go. Andrea woke-up early, ready to get a head start on her errands, and to avoid last minute shoppers. Without time to waste, she didn’t turn on the morning news. Her strategy paid off. Bank, bakery, caterer, party supply store, florist, church, car wash, dry cleaner, and home in time to get dressed for dinner with Karl.
After hanging the tuxedo, Andrea checked her answering machine. “What the… twenty-two messages? Why so many calls?”
One-by-one, she listened to each message, jotted down callers’ names and numbers, but not the messages, all having a common theme.
“Andrea, do you have a back-up plan?”
“What alternate date do you want?”
“Andy, need help calling folks?”
Putting down her pen, she turned on the television, hoping the news would explain everyone’s concern, as she was clueless.
A meteorologist was speaking. “Folks, if you haven’t heard yet, there’s still time before the worst blizzard the northeast has ever seen hits our area. However, chances are slim-to-none you’ll find any more snow shovels, rock salt, generators, bags of ice, milk, or bread in the stores.”
Andrea, motionless, listened intently. “As these systems collide, it should begin snowing around 1-2pm tomorrow, continuing heavily all afternoon, Saturday evening, and hopefully tapering off sometime Sunday night. We’re talking a blanket of 2-4 feet of snow, excluding severe drifts.”
Trembling, Andrea dialed Karl. Stuck in traffic, he didn’t want to talk.
“At dinner, Karl? Great, by the time we talk, the storm will be three hours closer and I’ll have fifty more callers.”
Over dinner, they debated the situation’s gravity. “Karl, I know weather forecasts are often wrong, but there are people, plans, and money to consider.”
“Well, I don’t think we should do anything until morning, except maybe call Jack.” Karl persisted until she agreed.
Leaving the restaurant, snowflakes greeted them outside, twelve hours earlier than predicted. Taking a deep breath, Andrea glared at Karl. Pulling her close, he kissed her forehead.
They couldn’t reach Jack. He had taken his wife away, not planning to return until Sunday afternoon. Karl called some friends. Everyone was celebrating Valentine’s Day. Confused, Karl sat quietly, Andrea sobbed.
Early Saturday morning she threw on sweats, rushing out to cancel orders, salvage deposits, and return whatever possible. Karl kept calling ministers; the answering machine reached capacity; snowflakes, now sticking, confirmed the forecast, and erasing all hope.
At 1pm, Andrea’s mobile phone rang. “Pastor Randy can be at your place by 2pm. What do ya think?”
“In one hour?” Her chest tightened.
“Andrea, we don’t have time to spare. Yes or no?”
“If you’re sure … okay.” Hanging-up, she stepped on the gas pedal.
At 2:15pm, Andrea arrived home. Karl, pastor, and six friends waited for her.
Without family or fanfare, they exchanged vows at 2:40pm; started packing at 3:30pm; headed for I-95S at 5pm. Karl drove, Andrea returned calls, not rescheduling, but announcing they already married.
Andrea laughed, “It was today, or who knows when. This blizzard may paralyze everyone else, but it couldn’t stop us... we did it!”
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