Lucy winced as another branch hit the car’s windshield. Beside her, Mom gripped the steering wheel tighter.
Like Mom, Lucy kept her eyes fixed on the road and storm beyond the windshield. As wind whipped the rain against the car, Lucy shivered, glad she wasn’t the one who had to drive through this forest during a storm, especially in the dark.
Mom sighed. “If only I wouldn’t have forgotten my phone, and we could ask Dad for advice on what to do. But I think that we’ll spend the night at the next decent motel we can—” Suddenly and without warning, a crash interrupted her.
Through the pouring rain, the red glow of the taillights briefly revealed the small maple lying across the road behind them, having fallen prey to the slashing wind.
“Well, we can only go forward now,” Mom said, her voice strained. “The road’s blocked back there.”
A few more kilometers passed as Mom steered the car onward. Lucy sat tensely and prayed.
Halfway down a slope, Lucy’s eyes caught movement. Mom slammed on the brakes, and the car slid for a few terrorizing seconds. As it did, a thick oak tree crashed forcefully down onto the road in front of them.
The car came to a stop so close to the tree’s trunk that its leaves brushed the hood. Hearts pounding, mother and daughter breathed quiet prayers of thankfulness to God for keeping them safe.
Lucy looked at Mom. “What now? We can’t go ahead or much farther back.”
After a pause, Mom answered. “Let’s see if someone along the road back there will let us use their phone and stay the night.”
As Mom carefully turned the car around, Lucy breathed in shakily. Storms? Falling trees? Now strangers?
A few minutes later, Mom knocked on the front door of a small, brick house. Shortly after, the door opened slowly.
The gentle, slightly wrinkled face of an older woman studied them with interest. After Mom gave a brief explanation, the travelers were welcomed into the house.
Soon, the three of them sat around a warm basement fireplace. “Thank-you for letting us stay the night, Esther,” Mom said. “I hope it isn’t a big inconvenience.”
“Of course not. It’ll do me good to have someone to ride out this storm with. An old lady like me isn’t too relaxed when that wind goes a-hollerin’.”
Lucy looked at Esther with a new realization. She hadn’t thought of it that coming to this house might help someone other than Mom and her.
“You know,” Esther went on, “I haven’t seen many storms this bad. But back when I was twelve, just after my family and I had moved to this area from Alberta, a nasty storm hit…”
The fire crackled, its light shone on the small group, and a contented smile was on Lucy’s face. The storm was slowly lessening outside, but inside the house, friendships were only beginning.