The Christmas Night Miracle

By: Carole Mortimer

Chapter 1

‘It’s snowing again, Mummy!’ Scott cried excitedly from the back of the car.

What an understatement.

It wasn’t just snowing, it was blowing and gusting towards blizzard proportions. Which, in fact, the radio station Meg was listening to as she drove along had already warned that it would become some time this evening.

It had just been a flurry of delicate white snowflakes when they had left London three hours ago, pretty in its delicacy, to be admired and enjoyed, but standing no chance of actually settling on the streets of the busy city, even though some of it had clung determinedly to the rooftops.

Unfortunately, the further Meg had driven out of London, the heavier the snow had begun to fall, until it was now a thick layer on the ground, the road in front of her almost indistinguishable from the hedgerow, the snow hitting the windscreen so thickly the wipers were having a problem dealing with it.

As was Meg herself, finding it increasingly difficult to control the car as the wheels slipped and slid on the growing layer of snow, the fall of darkness just over an hour ago making things worse, the headlights just seeming to hit a wall of white rather than light the way.

Scott, at three and a half, and awake after sleeping in the back of the car for the last hour, could only see the potential fun and not the danger of this novelty in his young life.

Something Meg was at great pains to maintain as she glanced at him briefly in the rear-view mirror, her smile warm and loving as she looked at his tousled head of dark hair and still-sleepy features; one of them feeling worried and panicked was quite enough.

‘Isn’t it lovely?’ she agreed as she hastily returned her attention to the road, the car having slewed slightly sideways in that moment of distraction.

She shouldn’t have come by car. The train would have been so much easier. And at least if there had been a problem with snow on the rails she would have had adult company in her misery.

Because she hadn’t seen another car, or even a truck, in the last half an hour.

Of course, that could have something to do with the warning being given out on the radio station for the last hour by the police for people ‘not to travel unless absolutely necessary’. A warning that had come far too late for Meg, already more than two thirds of the way towards her destination.

‘Can I build a snowman when we get to Granma and Grandad’s?’ Scott prompted hopefully, thankfully still totally unaware of their precarious situation.

‘Of course, darling,’ she agreed distractedly.

The relevant word in Scott’s statement was ‘when’—because Meg was very much afraid they weren’t going to make it to her parents’ house this evening, as planned.

She could barely see where she was going now, the headlights of the car only seeming to make the snow whiter and brighter, and blinding. If she could just see a house, or even a public house, anything that showed signs of habitation, then she could stop and ask them for help.

‘I need the toilet, Mummy.’

Her hands tightened instinctively on the steering wheel; this was, Meg had quickly learnt after toilet-training her young son two years ago, the age-old cry guaranteed to put any mother into a panic. Because it always came when you were standing in a long queue at the supermarket, or sitting on a bus, or trying on shoes—or in the middle of a blinding snowstorm.

And something else she had also learnt very quickly: it was no good telling a small child that they would have to wait a few minutes while you finished what you were doing—when children said they needed the toilet, then they needed it now.

Nevertheless, like many other mothers before her, Meg tried. ‘Can you hang on a few minutes, Scott? We aren’t too far from Granma and Grandad’s now,’ she added with more hope than actual knowledge; she had absolutely no idea where they were, as she hadn’t been able to see a signpost for miles.

‘I need the toilet now, Mummy,’ Scott came back predictably.

She was already so tense from concentrating on her driving that her shoulders and arms ached, this added pressure only making the tension worse. Not that it was Scott’s fault. He had been asleep for over an hour; of course he needed the toilet.

But she could hardly pull over to the side of the road, even if she could find it, take Scott outside and just let him go to the loo there. This wasn’t the middle of summer, it was the evening before Christmas Eve, with a temperature below zero. She could hardly expect him to expose himself to the elements.

If only she could find somewhere, a building of some kind, a barn, even, so very appropriate for this time of year, somewhere they could go and sit this thing out.