Scott watched helplessly as the Metro doors slammed shut, separating him and his dad from Michele, his younger sister, who was now imprisoned on the subway car.
“Get off at the next stop, and wait!” Dad shouted through the train window. Scott felt panic grip his stomach. Would he ever see his sister again?
For months Scott and Michele had been planning this special trip with Dad to Washington, D.C. Just last evening, peering from their airplane window before landing at Reagan National Airport, they had caught a glimpse of the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol. Seeing these famous landmarks had made them more excited than ever to explore the nation’s capital.
In spite of the three-hour time difference from California, they had awakened early this morning. Now they were on their way to visit the U.S. Navy Memorial and the FBI Building.
To get from their hotel to these attractions, the three of them walked two blocks to the nearest Metro station. The underground train would take them into downtown Washington. What excitement they felt as they ventured out to explore the famous city!
“Let’s stay together,” said Dad as they walked into the subway station. “Remember, we talked about today’s trip, and although several different train lines run through this station, we’ll need to take the Yellow line.”
Entering the subway station, they found themselves crowded by hundreds of people. It seemed as if all of Washington, D.C., were on the ascending and descending escalators carrying them toward the trains that would take them to work.
Scott felt excitement in the air as people jostled past one another in a rush not to miss their rides. The crowds, the escalators, the humid underground air–so many new sights and sensations to take in all at once!
One level above the train platform, Michele ventured a little ahead of Scott and Dad so that she could look over the retaining wall and see what was on the tracks below.
“Dad,” she called back, “hurry! The train is here!”
“Is it a Yellow train, Michele?” Dad asked as he and Scott quickened their pace.
Starting down the last escalator, Michele was able to read the sign with an arrow that read “Yellow Line.”
“It’s the Yellow one!” Michele shouted back to the others. “Hurry up!”
“Slow down, Michele. Wait for Scott and me!” Dad cautioned, his voice carrying above the crowd.
Michele reached the main loading platform and waited restlessly for Dad and Scott. As soon as she saw them reach the bottom of the escalator, Michele pushed ahead and jumped through the double doors into one car of the waiting train.
Dad, with Scott at his heels, quickly threaded his way through the crowd of people who had just gotten off the train. Just as Dad reached the train, the doors slammed firmly shut. Scott saw Dad instinctively retract his arm.
Oh, no! thought Scott.
Michele was inside the car, Scott and Dad were outside, and the train was beginning to move. That’s when Dad yelled for Michele to get off at the next station and wait. Then the train disappeared into the blackness of the tunnel and was gone.
Dad and Scott exchanged a frightened glance.
The five minutes until the next train pulled into the station seemed like five hours.
“I hope she understood what I told her to do,” Dad said anxiously.
Please, God . . . my sister . . . alone in this big city . . .
At least Dad had told her to get off at the next station.
But what if we don’t find her at the next station? One look at his dad’s face told Scott that he was thinking the very same thought.
Scott and Dad jumped aboard the next train when it arrived and impatiently waited for it to move. Just now life wasn’t happening fast enough. When the train did pull out, it seemed to be moving in slow motion toward its next destination.
I’m sure she’ll be there fought with What if she’s not? in Scott’s mind as the silent train gently rocked them along the tracks.
At last their subway train pulled into the next station. Dad stooped to look out the window, searching the faces of a hundred people lining the platform to push onto the train.
Then as the train made its final lurch before coming to a complete standstill, Dad shouted, “There she is!”
“Where?” asked Scott.
Dad pointed. Scott could see Michele standing on the platform next to a man dressed in a business suit.
The second the train doors parted, Dad and Scott were out. With three strides of his long legs, Dad reached Michele and enfolded her in one of the biggest hugs of her life while the man in the business suit looked on and smiled with relief.
When Dad turned around, the man said, “I saw what happened, and knew she needed someone to stay with her.”
Dad shook the man’s hand to thank him.
“It’s all right,” said the man. “I was glad to help.”
Dad gave Michele another hug before turning to ask the man a question, but he was gone.
That evening when Scott, Michele, and Dad returned to their hotel, they thanked God for protecting Michele during the Metro separation.
“I was so scared when I saw those doors shut, Michele,” said Dad. “I felt like panicking. Then as I looked at you on the inside of the train, I heard a Voice somewhere in my head saying, ‘Tell her to get off at the next station and wait.’ I did what the Voice said and felt calmer immediately.”
“I wonder who that man was,” Scott said. “And where did he disappear to so fast?”
“Well,” said Dad, “I noticed he was wearing a Pentagon ID tag around his neck. Perhaps he was on his way to work. Then again, the Bible says, ‘He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways’ [Psalm 91:11, NKJV].”*
Michele asked, “Dad, do you think . . . ?”
Dad smiled down at his almost-lost girl and answered, “One way or another, Michele, I believe that God sent that man to protect you today.”
*Texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Reprinted from the April 20, 1996, issue of Guide.
Illustrated by Joel D. Springer