“Hello children! How was your first day?” Mrs. Robinson sang as Caleb, Tara and I spilled into the car.
“Ehh . . . pretty good.” Caleb strapped himself into the front seat.
“And you, Tara?” Mrs. Robinson glanced at her through the rearview mirror.
“Okay, I guess.” Tara was wearing her blank mask. Never a good sign.
“I heard that you nominated yourself for Student Body President. Bold move.” Caleb remarked as we peeled out of the parking lot.
Tara raised her eyebrows.
“Wasn’t my idea. Carter practically begged me to.” I shrugged. “It can’t be that bad, right?”
Caleb gave a wry grin. “Jennifer is your opponent. She doesn’t like to share the spotlight.
I gulped. Maybe I was in over my head. But it was too late to back out.
“No worries. I’ll back you. Do you have a campaign manager yet?”
I shook my head.
“I know a couple kids who’d be perfect. I’ll ask them.”
“So, what did you sign up for, Tara?” Mrs.Robinson slowed as she neared the elementary school.
“Track and cross country. There isn’t a girls basketball team.” Tara gazed out the window.
“Oh. Maybe you could start one.”
Tara gave a noncommittal shrug.
Sheba flung open the car door. “Hey guys! You’ll never believe what happened at my P.E. class.” She bubbled as she scrambled into the car.
“Hi!” Elisha smiled and climbed into the car.
“Well, hello girls! How was your day?”
Their over-excited voices faded to the background as I considered the day.
Maybe I was going crazy. A couple months back, I’d never have agreed to run for president. Nor would I snap so easily. I winced remembering Tara’s ashen face as I yelled at her. And the shocked expression on the Robinsons’ faces. Hey, a couple months back, I wouldn’t even be mentally reviewing the day. Yep. Almost definitely going crazy. Time to snap out of this.
“Whatcha thinking about?” I elbowed Tara.
She frowned. “Nothing.”
“Really. You expect me to believe that.” I snickered.
“Fine. I’m thinking about ways to get you to stop bothering me.” She gave a half-smile.
That was more like her. I chuckled. “I saw the girl who you hated at school today. You know, blond hair, a couple freckles . . .”
Tara slanted her eyes at me. “Oaklee. Don’t remind me.”
“Why’d you hate her anyway? She seemed pretty nice to me.”
“She is as fake as her perfectly trimmed nails.” Tara ground out.
“I’m not talking about her.” Tara turned back to her window.
“What’s with her, anyway?”
I shifted my attention to Mrs. Robinson’s voice. “We’ll have a picnic on Sunday to celebrate the end of the first week of school. Provided that you do your homework, of course.”
“Yay! Can I invite friends?” Sheba squealed. Mrs. Robinson glanced into the rearview mirror for a second.
In that same second, three things happened.
Caleb grabbed the steering wheel and jerked it to the right.
A huge tawny body leapt onto the road.
The next second, the car swerved onto the shoulder.
The tawny body had disappeared.
The car coasted to a stop. A heavy silence hung like early morning fog. Even Sheba was speechless.
It was Elisha who broke the silence. “Praise God. That was close.” She said shakily.
“Wow. Just wow.”
“We didn’t kill it, did we?” Sheba whispered.
I glanced back.
“No.” I croaked.
Tara’s face was deathly white. Sweat shone on her forehead. This time, I knew what she was thinking, because I was thinking it too. The Mall Incident.
“Thank God! It could have died! We could have died! This car could be smashed!” Mrs. Robinson breathed. “God saved us.”
Tara trembled slightly. I squeezed her hand.
‘God had nothing to do with it. It was Caleb’s quick thinking that saved us.’ I wanted to say. But I bit back my words. “I’ll let them believe whatever they want to. At least we’re all alive.”
Mrs. Robinson slowly pulled back onto the road. “Well children, we’ll have something more to thank God for in our devotion. This miracle. He kept us all safe. That is proof that He loves us.”
Caleb nodded. “His angel guards those who honor the Lord and rescues them from danger.” Psalm 34:7
A thought tickled the back of my mind. “Maybe, just maybe it’s true. Maybe God does love us. Maybe He didn’t actually abandon us.”
I huffed a laugh. “Yeah, right. God loves us so much that he murdered our parents.”
But the thought refused to be silent, like an itch that couldn’t be scratched.