Olivia gripped the steering wheel. A slow, steady cloud of moisture swirled from between her lips as she watched the snow sifting like powdered sugar from the sky. It would be the first time she drove since the accident…but she had to go.
Thankful her dad always backed in, she shifted the car into drive and inched out of the garage. At the end of the driveway she skidded to a stop and hit the button to close the door before swishing onto the road, thick with untrodden snow. What would her parents say if they knew?
Mrs. Pepperdine lived a few miles outside of town not far from her friend’s house. Olivia crept through the quiet streets then tensed as she passed the town line where the landscape opened to fields and scattered farms. The wind’s heavy hand rocked her car and shrouded it in an icy veil of white.
After crawling for what seemed like an eternity, she bit her bottom lip as she approached the turn—and the turnoff to Mrs. Pepperdine’s house.
I can’t do this without You, Lord.
Though she slowed, the back of her car fishtailed as she steered around the sharp corner. Her heart pounded against her chest. Whumping into a snowdrift in the road, the car halted. She breathed a shivery sigh of relief before backing up and maneuvering around the drift to complete the turn.
She crept along the road then down Mrs. Pepperdine’s long driveway before stopping. She pressed on the bulge in her coat pocket before getting out and trudging to the front door. Snow kissed her cheeks as she knocked and waited.
The door opened. Mrs. Pepperdine poked her head through the gap. “Well, hello. It’s Olivia, right?”
“Yes, I’m Olivia Larsen.”
The middle-aged woman creased her brows before glancing over Olivia’s shoulder. “Are you alone?”
“Come.” She opened the door wider. “Come inside.” The smell of cinnamon and coffee stirred a rumble in Olivia’s stomach as Mrs. Pepperdine ushered her into the warm entryway. “Whatever made you come out in this weather? I can’t believe your parents would let you.”
“They don’t know. They fly back from California tomorrow. ”
“I see. Well, let me take your coat.”
“Oh, I’m only here for a minute.” Olivia tugged at her gloves one finger at a time before pulling them off and stuffing them into her pockets. With shaking hands she pulled an envelope from her pocket and handed it to her. “I came to bring you this.”
Mrs. Pepperdine opened the envelope and thumbed through the cash. “What’s this about?”
“It’s my own money, and it’s for a new watch. There should be enough to get one similar to what you had.”
She refolded the envelope before crossing her arms. “Please explain, Olivia.” The sternness in her voice reverberated in the small room.
Olivia wrung her hands. You promised You’d deliver me, Lord!
“During lunch Thursday, I went back to the chemistry lab for my calculator. I saw your watch on the counter and picked it up to admire it. I started to put it back but was distracted by people in the hallway and dropped it into your coffee mug. Then when I went to fish it out, the mug tipped over and ruined the lab reports. I’m sorry.”
“Why didn’t you speak up when I confronted the class yesterday?”
“I…” Olivia swallowed the lump in her throat. “I was afraid to.”
“Besides ruining your watch and the reports, I…” She licked her lips. “… well, before you took the class over for Mr. Sorensen last Monday there were a lot of rumors about you being…um…kind of tough, and—and I was afraid of what you would do.”
In the silence that ensued, a clock beside them sounded like a hammer pummeling the wall. Olivia hung her head as she waited for the outpouring of Mrs. Pepperdine’s wrath.
“I’m disappointed, yes,” she said at last, “but I appreciate the effort you’ve made to settle this.” Her voice gentled. “Have you driven much since the accident?”
“This is the first time.”
“What changed your mind about being afraid and compelled you to come out in this weather? You could have given me this Monday morning.”
“In my Bible reading last night, I read that God would deliver me from my fears, if I asked Him, and would lighten my guilt if I’m humble.” She lifted her eyes. “I just couldn’t wait until Monday to set things right.”
Mrs. Pepperdine’s eyes fixed on her. The envelope crinkled in her hand.
Olivia shrugged. “God even helped me brave driving again—and in the snow too.”
Her teacher smiled before handing the envelope back to her. “Let’s consign this matter to the past, shall we?”
Olivia widened her eyes and took back the envelope.
Mrs. Pepperdine gazed out the window. “If you’d like to stay a little longer, we can get to know each other better over a cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll. Perhaps by then the snow will let up and the snowplow will come by again.”
Olivia’s stomach rumbled again. “Do we have to talk about chemistry?”
“I won’t bring it up if you don’t.”
“Then it’s a deal.”