(, Feb. 12, 2017)
Instantly Kathleen drew herself up. There was nothing to gain by letting herself panic. She had toclear her mind and concentrate on nothing but driving, because her baby's life depended on it. Thebaby was all she had left. Everything else was gone: her parents; her marriage; her self-confidence;her faith and trust in people. Only the baby was left, and herself. She still had herself. The two ofthem had each other, and they didn't need anyone else. She would do anything to protect her baby.Breathing deeply, she forced herself to be calm. With deliberate movements, she inserted the keyin the ignition and turned it. The starter turned slowly, and a new fear intruded. Was the batterytoo cold to generate enough power to start the old motor? But then the motor roared into life, andthe truck vibrated beneath her. She sighed in relief and turned on the wipers to clear the snowfrom the windshield. They beat back and forth, laboring under the icy weight of the packed snow.It was so cold! Her breath fogged the air, and she was shivering despite the layers of clothingshe wore. Her face felt numb. She reached up to touch it and found that she was still coveredwith snow. Slowly she wiped her face and dusted the flakes from her hair.The increasing pressure in her lower body made it difficult for her to hold in the clutch, but shewrestled the stubborn gearshift into the proper position and ground her teeth against the pressureas she let out the clutch. The truck moved forward.Visibility was even worse than she had expected. She could barely make out the fence that ranalongside the road. How easy it would be to run off the road, or to become completely lost in thewhite nightmare! Creeping along at a snail's pace, Kathleen concentrated on the fence line andtried not to think about the things that could happen.She was barely a quarter of a mile down the road when another contraction laced her stomach iniron bands. She gasped, jerking in spite of herself, and the sudden wrench of the steering wheelsent the old truck into a skid. "No!" she groaned, bracing herself as the truck began goingsideways toward the shallow ditch alongside the road. The two right wheels landed in the ditchwith an impact that rattled her teeth and loosened her grip from the steering wheel. She cried outagain as she was flung to the right, her body slamming into the door on the passenger side.The contraction eased a moment later. Panting, Kathleen crawled up the slanting seat and wedgedherself behind the steering wheel. The motor had died, and anxiously she put in the clutch and slidthe shift into neutral, praying she could get the engine started again. She turned the key, and onceagain the truck coughed into life.But the wheels spun uselessly in the icy ditch, unable to find traction. She tried rocking the truckback and forth, putting it first in reverse, then in low gear, but it didn't work. She was stuck.Tiredly, she leaned her head on the steering wheel. She was only a quarter of a mile from the house,but it might as well have been twenty miles in this weather. The wind was stronger, visibility almostzero. Her situation had gone from bad to worse. She should have stayed at the house. In trying to saveher baby, she had almost certainly taken away its only chance for survival.