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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Minute(s) (as in time) (03/03/11)

TITLE: Anxious Moments
By Patricia Protzman


It was a hot, August morning 25 years ago when my husband Dan and I left our three sleeping teenagers at home to pick up his car at the airport. Still weary from our moving trip the day before we crawled inside our Ford LTD, turned on the air conditioner, and rode in silence. Bleary-eyed, I glanced at the pastoral countryside noting the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance; but had I known what lay ahead, I would have been much more observant.

Dan’s employer had transferred him to central Virginia three months earlier while our children and I remained in Ohio to finish the school year and sell our two-story Colonial. He lived in our camper until renting a house the week before we arrived.

Dan drove a rental truck loaded with our belongings while I followed in the red station wagon with our three children and Cockapoo, Petie. Along the way, he made a wrong turn that resulted in a twelve-hour trip instead of nine hours. Exhausted, we slept on the floor. Our aching backs the next morning told Dan and me the idea was a bad one.

It was not long until the car stopped at a crossroads. Dan turned left passing a small, white church. He inched along the steep, winding hill stopping once to let a Jersey cow wander off the road. A river meandered through a tree covered hollow on our left. Several more miles brought us to the main highway.

Ten minutes later, we reached the small airport, picked up his car, and headed toward home. I stayed close behind Dan but in town, a traffic light separated us. I felt a little anxious, but I was sure he waited for me.

After what seemed like forever, the light turned green. I drove through the intersection noticing an exit ramp, but I did not see Dan. After passing the same school building twice, it dawned on me I was on a bypass. I panicked; my heart raced and my clammy hands gripped the steering wheel.

“How do I get off this crazy bypass?” I shouted. “Oh this is just great. I’m in a strange town where I don’t know anyone, I don’t know my address, we don’t have a telephone yet, and—it’s Sunday—everything is closed. If I go to the police station they will think I escaped from an insane asylum.”

I pulled into a closed gas station, bowed my head, and prayed, “What should I do, Lord? I’m so scared, please help me.”

I heard a small voice whisper, “Calm down. Don’t panic, remember the landmarks.”

I returned to the road. This time I took the exit ramp. “Please let this be the right way, Lord.”

I drove until I spotted a somewhat familiar road on my left and turned. Soon, the car wound its way uphill, then the white church and river came into view. I turned right.

“I think this is it, Lord.” I whispered.

Moments later, I arrived at our house. Dan stood beside his car with the car door open.

“Lord, thank you for your help.” I prayed.

I sprang from the car, ran to Dan, and lit into him.

“Where were you? DON’T you realize I DO NOT know my way around this town yet? I DO NOT know our address and we DO NOT have a telephone. How could you leave me alone? Why didn’t you wait for me?”

Dan moved closer and tried to put his hand on my arm but I moved away.

“I’m sorry, Honey. I’m so tired I didn’t notice you were gone until I pulled into the driveway, but I was coming to find you when you arrived. Will you forgive me...please?

“Dan, you have no idea how scared I was.” I whined, my eyes welling up with tears.

“I’m sorry.” He said pulling me close to him. “Yesterday’s trip did me in. I wasn’t thinking clearly. But I knew you would find your way home because I asked the Lord to bring you back safely.”

“Yes, He did show me the way home.” I whimpered, wiping my eyes with his tee shirt.

Dan kissed the top of my head and said, “Hey, let’s wake up our brood and go out for breakfast. I know a great place to eat.”

“Sounds great, but no more separate cars for a while, okay?”

“Okay, Honey.” He said, giving me one of his heart-melting smiles.

* * *
A true story.

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This article has been read 382 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/10/11
I can so relate to that panic the feeling of being alone, than the calmness when I remember I'm never alone. Great story.
Yvonne Blake 03/12/11
I know how that feels to be lost in a strange place. A few minutes seems like hours.
Margaret Kearley 03/15/11
Oh, I can identify with this one! Several times, even recently, I've uttered that same 'panic' prayer whilst driving! Thanks for sharing - great writing.
Loren T. Lowery03/15/11
Well thought out and descriptive. I could picture every scene. It read like a testimonial and I really, really liked the way you turned to prayer for guidance and peace. We need more examples like that today.
Rachel Phelps03/15/11
Great descriptions and pacing. Good work.
Bonnie Bowden 03/15/11
It is very anxiety provoking to be left alone in a new area, especially a mountainous one. I am glad you stopped for a moment to pray and clear your head.

Very well written story.
Beth Muehlhausen03/16/11
Ooooo....I hate that feeling of panic when minutes seem like an eternity and fear presses in!! Nicely told story, very engaging, and especially gripping since it is true. :-)