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SNOWY LANDSCAPES were beautiful, Jean thought. Just not when I have to drive through them.
She felt a bit foolish in the fact that she didn’t know that Tennessee actually got snow and she thought it was a hard lesson to learn as she slowly made her way down the interstate toward South Carolina. She really felt dumb when she passed a turn off for a ski resort.


“Glad we’re heading south,” she grumbled to Louie, who was sleeping soundly in his little bed on the passenger seat. The cat slept nearly twenty hours a day, usually only waking up at about the time Jean wanted to settle down for the night.


She’d hoped to at least get to the South Carolina border before nightfall, but the winter storm that hit the area was certainly making that difficult. Her old Volkswagen was barely able to crawl along the snowy road.
A heavy sigh left her when she realized she was going to have to pull over in order to put the tire chains on that she’d been given. Her new friend, Tom, had insisted she take them when she left Colorado, though Jean had told him she’d had no intention of traveling anywhere snow fell.


But… God.


But God, Jean laughed to herself. But God… changes the plans. Laughs when you make them. And His plans are always better.


She smiled at the thought of why she was currently driving through Tennessee; it was all thanks to one of those changed plans in which she was able to help a young girl who needed some help, and to witness to a crotchety old man who’d bawled like a baby when he accepted the Lord.


Yep, God’s plans were infinitely better than any she could come up with.


Now, however, she really didn’t have a plan. No real direction. The whole trip had been like that, though. She’d point the car toward some destination and then wait for the Lord to move. And He always came through. Sometimes in very strange ways.


When she spied an area that was safe, she pulled off the road and got out, leaving the engine running so Louie would stay warm. She slipped twice as she walked to the front of the car to retrieve the snow chains, and decided she needed to change into her new boots first. Sneakers just didn’t work well for snow gear.
She sat on the bumper to change her shoes and looked through the crack left under the raised trunk. Louie had decided to use one of his rare waking moments to jump up on the dash to see what she was doing.

 

“Nosy cat,” Jean laughed, then waved at him. Louie gave her a look that said he thought she was very strange indeed.


Once her boots were on, she pulled the chains out, then moved to the passenger side. She laid the chains over the tops of the tires, then got back in the car, leaving the door open so she could see how far to pull forward. She then got out so she could affix the chains.


“You stay here,” she told the cat when he jumped on her seat, closing the door in his face. He gave her another look that said how much he appreciated that. Jean chuckled.


“Sucks to be you,” she teased, using the phrase she’d heard Avery use. The teen was full of funny sayings.
After the chains were attached, Jean closed the trunk and hurried to get back in the car with the heat. She was already chilled to the bones.


Only… the door was locked. And Louie had a rather smug look on his face.


Jean stared at the cat, then turned her eyes to the keys that were still in the ignition. She then looked to the passenger door, noting that the door lock was pushed down on that one as well, since she didn’t like to drive with the doors unlocked.


Of course, to make matters worse, her cellphone was in the car as well.


A shiver coursed up her spine as the wind whistled through the trees lining the road. Snow was still falling and the day was growing late. Soon, the temperature would drop even further and Jean wasn’t even wearing her coat.
With the storm brewing, there were few cars out. Jean had passed one truck heading the opposite direction, but that had been a long while before. There wasn’t much chance of someone stopping to help, if even to just let her use their cell.


She considered breaking a window, but that would mean a very cold drive to the nearest town and then there was the possibility of not being able to get a replacement. She’d already run into that problem on the trip, since Beetle parts were hard to come by.


Another heavy sigh lifted her shoulders, accompanied by another shiver. Her breath hung in a thick cloud before her as she looked heavenward.


“Lord, I really need Your help here,” she called out, her voice muffled in the snow. It reminded her of the acoustics in the hospital chapel where she’d prayed for a miracle. This is yet another chapel, she thought.
“I’m g-gonna f-f-freeze to death soon,” she said, teeth chattering. “N-n-need You to unlock the d-d-door.”
Jean thought she was probably being a bit overly dramatic when she closed her eyes and reached for the handle, still keeping her face toward the sky. But when the door opened, she shouted “Hallelujah!” and didn’t feel that it was over-the-top.


Not at all.


“F-father, You are certainly an awesome G-god,” Jean said as she hurried into the car, slamming the door against the cold. She turned to glare at Louie.


“And y-you are a h-horrible c-c-cat,” she said. He just blinked at her from his cat bed, then turned so his back was to her and curled up.


“Mangy feline,” Jean grumbled. She sat in the warm car for a few minutes until she stopped shivering, then put the car in gear and pulled back out on the interstate.


“Next time I have to get out of the car, I’m not leaving it running so you can be warm,” she muttered. “You can just freeze your little tushy.”


Jean had planned on getting all the way to the coast, to Charleston, but the snowstorm wasn’t having any of that. Despite the tire chains, it was still a very slow ride and a tense one, since Jean was so unfamiliar with winter weather driving.


She was pretty sure her fingerprints were going to be forever etched into Bob’s steering wheel from her tight grip.

(That's it so far... I'll add more as I write it!)