Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: MAP (01/31/19)
TITLE: Whoa! What a Day!
By Dannie Hawley
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“Take this northeast-bound road.” Don tapped his map spread before us. “The Farranah turn-off’s about here.”
“About? It’s marked, right?” I said.
Lois laughed, responding before her husband. “The brand-new sign sits too far ahead of the intersection to help.”
Sensing the shift of my colleague, I leaned forward, tilting my head toward the rustling paper. Whatever Anne’s thought, Lois’s clapping outburst derailed it.
“You can see! You’ve been fooling us.”
“It’s a reflex. I’ve only been blind five months. My body’s still adjusting.”
“It’s weird, isn’t it?” Anne said. “Lois, I even forget she can’t see when she’s looking right at me and making normal gestures.”
“You sure you want to make this trip?” Don said. “It could be dangerous.”
I smiled, arching both eyebrows. “More dangerous than a blind person living in the jungle?”
“Sounds nuts,” Anne said, chuckling, “but we’ve prayed and believe this is the time. We’ve wanted to go for years.”
“Don’t worry,” I said. “God can as easily protect us traveling an unknown road as He can keep me from stepping on a deadly snake at home, right?”
“Back to business, guys,” Anne said. “From this sketchy map, it looks like we’ll reach our overnight stop, even if we miss the turn.”
“You will,” Don said, “but believe me, you don’t want to miss that turn. Instead of a paved road, you’ll have many hours on dirt, walled by six-foot high savannah grass.”
After a lively discussion of the turn’s exact location, we finished packing and drove off. We’d discover if the turn sat at the bottom of the hill out of town or the top--by experience.
“We just passed the new sign,” Anne said. “Keep a look out for the road to the right.”
“How I wish I could. See anyone to ask?”
“No African will be out in this mid-day sun.”
“You planning to turn right before the hill or at the top?” As the words left my lips, I sensed the slight incline of the road. “At the top, huh?”
Nervous laughter filled the vehicle. “Guess so since I missed the start of the hill.”
When the first intersecting gravel road veered to the left, I knew we had a long, dirt road ahead. Night dropped like a curtain. Temperatures cooled.
“Feels like we’re traveling the narrow way,” I said, rubbing my shoulder. “Blades of savannah just smacked me.”
“Sorry. These walls of grass force single-lane traffic sometimes. I’m trying to leave room for other vehicles.”
The loud roar of a passing freight truck broke the night’s silence. I covered my nose and mouth with my bandana seconds before the dirt cloud poured through the windows. “Can you pull over so I can tie this around my neck?”
“Nowhere to pull over.” Anne coughed. “I’ll just stop.”
“Should be able to close the windows soon,” I said as we resumed our journey. “Temperature’s really dropping.”
The idea died with the slamming of brakes. “Sorry. A herd of long-horns just broke out of the grass. They’re everywhere.”
Finally, Anne eased us back into motion. My ears strained to hear any unusual sounds in the darkness.
The slow-stop-slow pacing occasionally reached a cruising speed. “Wow! How fast are we going now?”
Anne chuckled. “Fast? Almost 25 mph.”
Hours passed in silence. Cold. Filthy. Tired. “How much lo—”
The passenger side left the road. Clinging to the overhead grab bar kept my body off the gear shift. “Who-o-o-oa!” Two quick thuds sounded as the tires bounced to ground.
“That last truck must have hit one of the long-horn stragglers. We were on it before my brain registered the beefy mass in the headlights.” Anne’s giggle released hardy laughter from both of us.
“Just think,” I said, wiping tears from dirt-streaked cheeks, “If we had a real map, we’d have completely missed this adventure.”
“True. Hopefully, it’s about finished for today.”
“There’s the Bible School’s sign,” Anne said and sighed. “We made it.”
Our thirteen-hour journey ended with a painfully icy shower. Removing the caked-in dirt from my short hair proved a lengthy challenge.
At last, I sat on my bed, thick quilt covering my head and encasing my body. Anne handed me the tea and left for the shower. Hot steam warmed my face as I lifted the cup to my lips. “Thank you, Lord, for protecting us this whoa-filled day!”
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