by Dee Lorraine
“Daddy, please stop! I have to go!”
Sometimes Curtis wished time would stand still. The Bible verse in which God made the sun stand still and the moon stay was one of his favorites. He was a stickler about being on time, and it irritated him to no end whenever someone was late.
“Daddy! Please! NOW!”
Now, he was on the verge of being late. The terrible weather had slowed them down a lot. Even though he had left two hours earlier than usual to compensate for the storm, the blinding snow, darkness, and icy roads were killing his drive time.
Curtis was doing 40 in the right lane. He planned to get off the interstate after two more exits and wanted to avoid lane changes.
Cars and trucks whizzed by in the left and center lanes.
They’re going too fast, and they’re too close together, he thought.
“All right, Angel, hold on just a couple of minutes more.”
His daughter’s name was Angela. Jessica, his ex-wife, chose the name.
Curtis called her Angel. When she was a baby, he rocked her to sleep in his arms, saying, “my precious little Angel.”
Most of the time, Curtis considered Angela as his only blessing during his brief marriage to her mother. But he didn’t blame Jessica for the breakup.
When he got involved with Jessica, Curtis had enough experience to know better. He just ignored the signs.
“Thinking with the wrong head,” Curtis had admitted to his lawyer.
Curtis’s five-year-old daughter needed to pee.
If he stopped, they would be late getting to Jessica’s house. Jessica was liable to call the police and lie to them if they were more than a few minutes late. She could be that mean.
But Angel needed to pee.
Jessica would just have to wait 20 minutes.
“Hang on, Angel. Almost there.”
Curtis approached an exit ramp. He decided to get off, one exit early, and take Angela to the restroom in the gas station across the street.
Turning on his signal, he checked his rear and side-view mirrors.
An 18-wheeler was barreling down the highway toward him.
“What the.… Oh, Jesus,” Curtis whispered. As he maneuvered his SUV onto the exit ramp, the truck sped by in the right lane, where he had been just seconds before. Angela was strapped securely in her car seat behind him. With the snow collecting on the side windows, blizzard-like conditions, and the high sides of her car seat, she couldn’t see anything outside.
Curtis sucked air involuntarily as he heard the crash. His stomach churned as the sound of metal crashing into metal rang in his ears. Then came the long series of gut-wrenching crashes, partially muffled by the snow.
“Daddy, what was that?”
“Might be an accident.” He didn’t want to alarm her.
“I hope nobody gets hurt.”
“Me too, sweetheart.”
“I’ll hurry, Daddy,” Angela said, rushing to the restroom.
“Take your time, Angel.”
Curtis rang Jessica’s doorbell at 7:15 pm.
“Angela had to use the restroom on the way.”
Curtis handed Angela’s backpack to Jessica. Then he knelt, picked up Angela, and hugged her. The loving father hugged his daughter as he had never hugged her before. Curtis couldn’t let his angel go. He didn’t want to.
It was as if time stood still.
She felt it too.
“I love you, Daddy.”
“I love you too, Angel. Have a good Thanksgiving.”
“You too, Daddy.”
“My precious little Angel,” he whispered in her ear before kneeling again and releasing her.
They could barely see each other through their tears.
He cleared his throat.
“Take care, Jessica. I’ll be back Sunday night at seven.”
“Thanks. See you then.”
As Curtis got in his vehicle, the raging snowstorm was subsiding. He closed his eyes for a few minutes.
Ambulance, fire engine, and police sirens blared in the distance.
“May God be with you,” he prayed aloud.
Curtis decided to skip the interstate and take an alternate route home.
He had no reason to rush.
Twenty minutes from home, Curtis noticed a small church. He had passed it countless times but never paid it much mind. A dozen cars were in the snow-covered parking lot. Someone had cleared a path for their exit.
Curtis hadn’t been to a church service in years. Not since Angela’s christening.
Maybe the service isn’t over yet, he thought.
He had time.
Curtis parked, walked into the narthex, crossed himself, and entered the nave.
He slid into the last row of pews as the rector was about to give the benediction.
With open arms, Father Benjamin said, “Welcome, friend. The peace of the Lord be with you.”
Curtis stood and genuflected.
“And also with you, Father.”
“Is there anything you’d like to share?”
The parishioners turned to look at him.
“Tonight, an angel saved my life.”
Dee Lorraine writes fiction, non-fiction, prose, and poetry. Her 100-word stories often appear in the online literary journal Friday Flash Fiction. She makes videos for drabble authors and posts them on her YouTube channel, “Superfast Stories.” Having experienced homelessness as an adult, Dee uses her YouTube channel, “Provoke Unto Love,” to promote a unique, Christ-centered solution that can end child and family homelessness in the United States permanently.