Before Andrea opens her eyes, she feels it, the rigid cold air around her. If not for her warm sanctuary under her comforter, she would be freezing. She buries herself further under the covers dreading getting herself out of bed. She tries to cuddle up next to her husband, Will, though she is rebuffed when he rolls over attempting to steal the whole comforter. Defeated, she opens her eyes. The clock on the nightstand reads 5:30am. Reluctantly, she sits up, moaning and shivering. As she sits on the side of the bed, her feet feel for her shearling-lined slippers. Eventually, she locates them and even manages to get each one on the correct foot. She forces herself to stand. Although she is wearing flannel pajamas, she still holds herself and occasionally rubs her upper arms to stay warm. She makes her way across the room to the window. It is still dark outside, but she is able to see that everything is covered in white, the wind is blowing hard and she wonders if it is still snowing or if the wind is just blowing the snow that has already fallen.
Andrea starts out of her room. From the hall, down the stairs, and into the kitchen, she dodges toy trucks and building blocks, steps over several dolls, and picks up a portable game system and a tablet. Kids, she thinks, shaking her head. She walks into the kitchen and starts a pot of coffee. She pulls open the refrigerator to get cream for her coffee. After grabbing the creamer, she shakes it and determines there is barely enough for her morning coffee. She sighs, then starts to take an inventory of what is missing and writes a grocery list on a piece of paper. Now, I have to go grocery shopping after work.
The wind is beating the loose snow from the drifts against the house harder now. Andrea wonders how the roads are going to be driving to work. Let’s see what the news says. Where is that darn remote? Andrea searches for the tv remote throughout the entire living room. Then aloud, “Whose bright idea was it to have kids anyway. Ah, here it is.”
Andrea triumphantly holds up the once lost remote control. As she turns the tv on, music from a music channel blares out at almost full volume. Frazzled with this shock so early in the morning, Andrea fumbles with the remote to turn the volume down. Once she has controlled the volume and her heartbeat stabilizes, she finds the local news channel.
The news anchors are sharing opinions about a feelgood story that was just aired. One of the anchors says, “And now, we have Patty Armstrong with the weather. How’s it looking out there, Patty?”
“Well, Joe, we are seeing this blizzard will most likely be sticking around all day. Right around the northern region and further into the mountains you go, you’ll find that’s where the snow will be the heaviest. It’s likely to continue throughout the day and even into the night. If you don’t have to leave your house, don’t. It will be bad out there.”
Damn Colorado winters!
Just then, Will comes down the stairs in his robe still rubbing his eyes. He asks, “Andi, what’s it looking like?”
“Looks like you get to stay home with the kids. They’re calling off school again.”
“Ugh, really?” Will says, disgusted. “I don’t like staying with them. They’re so loud and disgusting. Whose idea was it for us to have children?”
Andrea laughs out loud at her husband’s comment. “I don’t remember, but hopefully it will be just one more day. You did a good job yesterday.” Will walks over to her and gives her a morning kiss. She continues, “I have to get a few groceries after work. Is there anything specific you need?”
“Just whatever you get, these kids eat us out of house and home as it is.” Will then adds, “But, the next snow day, you are staying home with them.”
“Will, you know your job is more flexible than mine is. If I could stay home, I would.”
“I know you would,” Will replies. “What would happen if the local supermarket didn’t open for business?”
“Hey, I’m the manager. If I can make it there, the store will be open. If only just for emergencies, I will make sure it’s open.”
“Ok, well, make sure you are careful out there.”
“I will be. The four-wheel-drive makes it so much easier. Remember that year it snowed and all I had to drive was that Mustang?” Andrea asks with a chuckle, reminiscing.
“Yeah, and you pretty much fish-tailed your way home,” Will says, laughing along with Andrea.
Just as Will and Andrea are winding down their giggle fest, six-year-old Lily, comes down into the living room. “Mommy? Daddy? What time is it?”
“It’s still early, Honey. You can go back to bed. School was cancelled again today,” Andrea tells her daughter.
“Yay!” exclaims Lily, a little too loud. “I can play with Jax again today!”
“Yes, Dad will be home with you guys again. Please just leave Jordan alone though. He’s going through his ‘changes’ right now,” Andrea says this with air quotes, to add emphasis. Although, she tries to explain how a thirteen-year-old boy goes through adolescence, Andrea doesn’t know how much Lily understands.
“You know, Kiddo, don’t worry about it. It will be fun, just like yesterday. You, me, and Jax can have some fun, ok?” Will says, saving Andrea from having to go too deep into puberty.
“Well, look at the time. I gotta get going if I’m going to make it to work on time,” Andrea says as she gets up from the chair and starts up the stairs to her room.
Andrea continues her morning routine by showering and dressing. Once ready she heads back downstairs and bundles up with her winter coat, gloves, boots, and a scarf. Before heading out of the door, she kisses her husband and her two youngest children. She then gets in the 4WD SUV and heads into work.
As she is maneuvering her way through the snow-packed streets very carefully, Andrea finally reaches her destination. She parks the SUV where she thinks there is a parking spot because the lot is completely covered, and it is hard to determine where the lines are.
She unlocks the front door and flips on all the lights. Everything looks normal. Andrea gets settled in her office, then walks around the store conducting her usual morning checklist. Once that task is complete, she checks her watch and it is 7:55am. She is almost ready to open the store for business when the phone rings.
Andrea answers the phone. It is her morning cashier calling out because she cannot make it in to work due to the storm. Andrea is understanding of the situation. She goes to open the store anyway, although she will be the only one in the store until 9:00am when two other employees are scheduled to work. This is when she realizes she didn’t lock the door behind her when she first arrived. She thinks, Oh, well, we’re open now. No big deal. She shrugs it off.
It’s 8:00am. The wind is howling outside and there is an eerie whistling from where the front door is seeping in air. Andrea looks around feeling a tad uneasy. She tries to focus on some paperwork when suddenly something hits the front door. Thud!
If she wasn’t wearing boots laced up to her knees, she probably would have jumped right out of them. “What was that?” She walks to the front door to investigate. She pulls open the door and sees a tree has fallen. She is relieved that the tree didn’t break the glass or cause any other damage. Just then, the lights go out. The entire store is pitch dark. The overcast, dreary conditions outside offer only a slight stream of light to the enormity of darkness that is the store right now.
Andrea fumbles to find a flashlight. Before she locates one, the backup generators kick in and the emergency lights turn on. This allows some light, though scarce, to shine throughout the store. She finds a flashlight and flips it on. She starts to survey the area making sure nothing is amiss. The dim light casting shadows and the realization of the temperature slowly dropping from the power outage gives Andrea goosebumps.
She starts to pick up the phone to call the power company when she hears a sound. She jerks her head around to the right, then to the left. Nothing. She is aware her senses are heightened. She hears the sound again. She slowly walks over to grocery aisle number three where the sound seems to be coming from. This aisle is completely dark. Not one stitch of light from the emergency lights can be seen in aisle three. Andrea hesitantly raises her flashlight to shine into the aisle. Halfway down the aisle is a box. She wonders why there is an open cardboard box in the middle of the grocery store. Suddenly, it moves. Andrea jumps back. Oh my God, what the heck is that?
With the flashlight still shining on the box, Andrea gathers her nerve to find out what is in the box. As she walks closer to the foreign object, she sees something pink hanging out of the side. Is that a blanket?
Upon further inspection, Andrea determines, yes, it is a blanket, but what’s that in there? She slowly gets closer, then, a cry. A baby’s cry! She shines the flashlight into the box and sure enough, it’s a baby with a pink blanket. The baby looks to be about three months old. “What are you doing here? When did you get here and where are your parents?” Andrea thinks back to when she opened the store. She vividly remembers looking own aisle three when doing her checklist and didn’t see anything then. Did someone come in the store when I was in the back?
Just then, there is a loud boom, then a crash. Andrea picks up the baby and goes back to the front of the store. Another tree has fallen and this time it crashed through the door. I can’t be here right now. It’s going to freeze in here if the power doesn’t come on soon and I need to find a place for this little one to go to.
She checks the phone and there is no dial tone. She picks up her cell phone and calls the police station. No one picks up. She calls the fire department. No one picks up. She calls the two employees that are scheduled to come in at 9:00 and neither of them answer the phone. She leaves voicemails for them telling them not to even come in today.
Andrea, still holding the baby, goes back to aisle three, which happens to be the baby needs aisle. She grabs some baby formula, diapers, wipes, a bottle, and a pacifier. Surprisingly the baby is awake and alert, but quiet. Andrea then packs everything in bags and grabs her belongings all while struggling to get her coat on. Juggling everything, she leaves the store and fights through the heavy winds and blowing snow to reach her SUV. Once inside, she evaluates the events that transpired in the last half-hour.
She decides to go home now, then she’ll figure everything out later. She makes a make-shift car seat for the baby, then starts the SUV. Just outside of the parking lot, she encounters a bad accident involving a pickup truck and a compact car. The emergency vehicles were already there. Andrea sees the EMTs loading a gurney into the ambulance. The person on the gurney was fully covered indicating they were no longer alive.
Worried, Andrea carefully drives home. Once home, she grabs the baby and, yet again, fights the mean blizzard until she reaches the front door. Instead of fumbling with her keys, she rings the doorbell. Will answers the door, letting in Andrea and her surprise package. Then with a puzzled look, Will asks, “What are you doing here? And who is this? I thought you were bringing home groceries, not a baby. We already have too many of those.”
Andrea rolls her eyes and shakes her head at her husband’s attempt at a joke. She then proceeds to fill Will in on the events of the morning. Lily comes bouncing down the stairs and says, “Hi mom!” Then she sees the baby and the pink blanket. “You brought me a sister!”
“No, Lily, I just didn’t know where to take her right now,” Andrea explains.
The tv is still on the news channel and the breaking news story catches Andrea’s attention. The newscaster says with a serious tone, “...The accident we told you about earlier has now been confirmed as fatal. A young mother perished fleeing for her life from her abusive husband. Christine Johnson’s blue Honda Civic collided with a black pickup truck this morning just before 8:00. It is thought she dropped her 4-month old daughter off somewhere, saving her life. The suspect, Mark Johnson, is in custody and if you have any information on the baby’s whereabouts, please contact the police department.” The tv is flooded with photos of Christine, Mark, and their daughter.
Andrea looking at the baby says, “So, that’s who you are and where you came from. Well, I guess we will make you comfortable here until they figure out what to do with you.”
Will says, “You were in the right place at the right time.”
Andrea smiles at the swaddled baby she is holding and replies, “Yeah, I guess I was.”