Chapter 43 - Miracle

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∞ 43 ∞


It was a cold, cold evening. Valentina was coming back from grocery shopping and realised she hadn't collected the kindling yet. The space heater she kept in her bedroom had stopped working, which didn't seem to be as much of an inconvenience as it might have been, considering they were going to shut the electricity off soon anyway – unless she found a way to pay the bill, which was unlikely. She would make a fire and sleep in the kitchen. She knew from her walks of a place where there were quite a lot of nice sticks that were probably still dry. She didn't feel like stopping. When she left home, she had already felt a bit of a sore throat and feverishness from a cold that was coming on. To make matters worse, the car's window was stuck a few inches in the down position, so she was chilled through. She just wanted to get inside and go to sleep. She still had the animals to do as well, but the night was going to be much worse if she didn't have a fire. She stopped the car at the side of the road of the woods. The little wind-up torch that she kept there for emergencies wasn't in the glove box. (Naturally! Why would it be there, after years of tolerating the thing being in her way every time she went in there, just so she could be sure that she would always have a light if she needed it?) Thinking of what she imagined was a clever solution, she reparked off of the road at the mouth of the woods where lovers stopped out of the way for secret trysts and turned the car's lights on full beam to illuminate the ground. She collected a plastic grocery bag full of nice, dry kindling under the tall trees quickly and although it was tempting to collect more while she was there, thought she probably shouldn't stay any longer; the car's dimming headlights confirmed as much.

She jumped in the car and turned the key in the ignition. The engine wouldn't turn over. She tried again... and again, but it wouldn't start.

«MERDE!» Valentina realised her stupidity. She was so concerned with saving petrol, she hadn't thought about the danger of running the battery down by keeping the lights on without the engine running. «Ohh, Je suis dans le merde!... Je suis dans le merde.» she whispered frantically in agony. She calmed herself and tried to think what to do. She would call her insurance company to see if there was breakdown cover on the policy. She prayed there was... It would have been a good plan – except she had stupidly left her phone at home in the rush to get out and back.

Just stay calm, she thought. There would be someone who would drive past who could give her a jump start. She went to get the jumper cables that were in the luggage compartment. She would just have to wait for someone to pass... But the cables weren't there either. She didn't fancy walking; it would probably take her three hours. Someone would pass. She went to the road and stood there so that she could flag someone down.

It was Sunday. No one passed.

After an hour or so, she was frozen through. Her fingers and her feet were burning from the cold. She went back and sat in the car. She felt tired and slightly dizzy from the infection coming on. She just wanted to close her eyes for a few minutes. She was tired. It was so cold. As the temperature dropped, Valentina fell into a silent, numb sleep.

Valentina opened her eyes. She had no idea how much time had passed. It was strange, she felt warmer than she had done when she drifted off. She would try just one more time. It was silly – there was no way it would start. The battery is dead. No try it, she thought forcing herself to hope...

"Please start. Please start. Oh please. Please." She turned the key and heard the engine turn over. She let out a long, shuddered sigh.

"Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, so much. Thank you," she cried in relief. Not really knowing whom she was thanking, but feeling very grateful and deep in her heart knowing that the engine had been dead and someone (or something) somewhere had helped her.

(...Lucius waited until Valentina got home and he was certain she had the fire started before he left her.)

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