The wind bit into her exposed skin as Dena huddled against her broken down car on the side of the interstate. Dusk was closing in and she knew it would be dark soon. How could she have forgotten to charge her phone before starting the drive home for Thanksgiving?
Mom is going to kill me, she thought ruefully, but with no phone and no car, she had no choice but to try to get someone to stop and help her. Maybe she’d luck out and another kid going home from college would stop and pick her up. Or maybe a nice truck driver. They were the ones to help you on the road, her dad always said.
Okay, if no one was coming down the road, she was going to get back inside her car and wait where it was at least a little warmer. Maybe the OnStar thing would work. She got in and pressed it again and again, but nothing. No disembodied voice asking how they could help her. Her luggage was in the trunk of the little Dodge Dart and maybe she’d get it out and put some more layers of clothes on to try to stay warm. She didn’t have another coat, but more jeans and socks and a big sweater, at least.
Darkness was rapidly closing in when she heard rumbling sounds behind her. Peering out the frosted over back window she saw a huge semi bearing down on her. The noise must have been the truck downshifting as the driver tried to stop after seeing her car. Too late to get out and make a run for it, she just prayed that the air brakes caught and the massive machine stopped before slamming into her car. Head down, trying to remember the long ago prayers from when she was a little girl, “Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name…”
Oh, thank you, Jesus, the truck swung around her car and pulled onto the shoulder just in front with an awful squeal. Dena’s heart was still pounding and her mouth was nearly dry, not noticing a tall, broad-shouldered man get out of the cab, a knit cap pulled low over longish brown hair as he stalked toward her car. She was still in a daze when the loud rapping on her window brought her into the present.
Dena opened the door a crack to peer out and his lips tilted up a little. “Can I help you with anything, miss?”
“Oh, thank goodness you stopped,” was all she could muster as her eyes filled with tears.
“Yep, seems like good luck all around, doesn’t it? Come on into my truck and warm up a little and I’ll see what’s going on with your car.” His big hand tugged on hers a little until she finally got her body to move. She was almost stiff with the cold and the remnants of fear from seeing the truck bearing down on her. And now, relief — or something — was making her light-headed.
“My name is Dena,” she managed as he guided her toward the cab of the truck. She noticed it was white and had some sort of telephone number and Jones Trucking on the side.
“Nice to meet you, Dena,” he smiled, again with the slight uptilt. “Most folks call me Jonesy, but my name is Bill. Now get on in there and warm up a little.”
It seemed like she barely had time to settle back against the luxurious padded seat and feel her toes and fingers start to thaw before he was climbing back up beside her. Then she felt the truck lurch forward before it moved onto the highway.