Authors: Elizabeth Musser
Books by Elizabeth Musser
The Swan House
The Dwelling Place
Searching for Eternity
Not yet available in English.
Copyright © 2009
Cover design by Brand Navigation
Unless otherwise identified, Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.
Scripture quotations identified NASB are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE,
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Published by Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South
Bloomington, Minnesota 55438
Bethany House Publishers is a division of
Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Printed in the United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Words Unspoken / Elizabeth Musser.
ISBN 978-0-7642-0373-2 (pbk.)
1. Young women—Fiction. 2. Traffic accident victims—Fiction. 3. Automobile driver education teachers—Fiction. 4. Psychological fiction. I. Title.
This story is dedicated to
my brothers and their wives:
Jere Wickliffe Goldsmith V and Mary Chandler Goldsmith Glenn Edward Goldsmith and Kimberley Gartrell Goldsmith
, Lord, for my bright, mathematically inclined, computer-whiz brothers who have loved and helped their dizzy sister for all these years.
Jere and Glenn, thank you for being strong men who hang on to Jesus and raise your families to know Him. Thank you for two decades of love and prayers in our missionary journey and thank you for getting married and giving me another wonderful gift: beautiful, godly sisters-in-law who are truly sisters to me! I see Jesus in all of you, and I love you all so much.
SATURDAY, MAY 25, 1985
SOMEWHERE BETWEEN ATLANTA AND CHATTANOOGA
ON INTERSTATE 75
The hail came from nowhere. The sky turned dark gray, as if a shade had suddenly been pulled down over the highway. Lissa felt her knuckles tighten on the steering wheel as the hail pounded the windshield.
“Leave it to Tennessee to give us hail on an otherwise perfect spring day,” Momma said lightly.
She isn’t worried
, Lissa thought,
so why should I be?
The cars behind her on I-75 had slowed to a crawl, disappearing in the rearview mirror.
“Anyway, I think that a substantial scholarship to a small liberal arts college is worth considering. I know you have your heart set on an Ivy League, but I was frankly impressed with this small school.”
“There’s so much to think about, Momma. It makes my brain hurt.”
Momma laughed. “One day at a time, Lissa.”
Now the hail was hitting the windshield so forcefully it popped.
“This is freaky.”
“Yes. You better slow down, Liss.” Momma’s voice cracked.
The hail thundered all the louder, harder. Glancing in the rearview mirror, Lissa wondered where all the other cars had gone.
“I think we should pull over. This will pass in a few minutes.”
Lissa pushed on the brake, too quickly, and the car slipped and swerved precariously to the left. She saw the white dashes separating the lanes blend into one.
How can I measure a safe distance from the car in front if there are no dashes? It’s all one twisting, curving, blurry line.
It didn’t matter—there were no cars ahead of theirs.
“Lissa! Slow down!”
The car was almost perpendicular to the highway. What had her driving instructor said about correcting a skid?
Turn the steering wheel in the direction the car is already going.
She turned the steering wheel, and the car slid in the opposite direction, zigzagging across the highway. A car passed, slowly, slowly on her left.
That man looks really scared, staring out the window at me.
A horn blared. Or was it the hail? A car crept by on the right. Then one swerved out of the way on the left.
This is what it feels like to be completely out of control.
The hail popping on the windshield echoed the sound of her pulse in her ears.
How will I go to college if I die on the highway in a freaky storm?
“Slow down, Liss!” Momma’s voice was a whisper, a terrified whisper.
Lissa forcefully pressed down on the brake, and the car slid again— now they were hurtling to the right, toward the cement wall of an underpass. Lissa watched it move closer, closer.
We are going to hit the wall. It is covered in graffiti, and we are going to hit it.
The car righted and slowed as the wall drew closer. The sound of hail stopped momentarily under the cover of the bridge. Lissa was vaguely aware of the screeching of brakes. Closer, closer.
The car slipped out from under the bridge, the hail pounded again, the white lines began breaking up. The car finally came to a halt in the emergency lane.
Lissa let out a sob, head down, hands trembling on the wheel. She sat with her mother in stunned silence, hearing only their labored breathing.
“Thank the Lord,” Momma whispered eventually, seconds later. Or minutes? She reached over and gave Lissa’s hand a pat. “There. Good job, sweetie.” She flashed Lissa a weak smile.
Lissa continued to tremble. She couldn’t release her fierce grip on the steering wheel.
The hail stopped as suddenly as it had begun, and the sun blinked through the clouds. Cars whizzed by, spraying the windshield with fresh rain.
“Honey, scoot over to the passenger’s side. I’ll drive.”
Still Lissa sat, her hands on the steering wheel, her seat glued to the upholstery.
“Scoot over, sweetie. I’ll come around.”
She met her mother’s eyes briefly; they shared a smile of relief. Other cars sped by. The wet pavement shone, glistened, a rainbow of colors in front of them. Lissa slid to the passenger side, admiring the violet blue that momentarily dressed the pavement, while her mother walked in front of the car and quickly opened the driver’s door.
At the same moment Lissa saw, with a glimpse in the rearview mirror, a truck trying to pass a car, the car swerving, slipping, and skidding as she had done minutes before. She saw it as if in slow motion, the car sliding across two lanes, coming toward them, toward her mother. The scream started in her throat and exploded, “Momma!”
The car slammed into theirs, throwing Lissa’s mother twenty feet ahead onto the pavement of I-75.