[This is the second part of a three-part story. Read Part 1. Read Part 3.]
The dishes cleaned, and bathrooms used, we settled into our SUV and started off. We were bound for Lake Michigan. Our family needed this trip. We had been stuck inside for months, being able only to go for short walks around the neighborhood. The kids were reaching their limit; Allison and I had long passed ours.
I had gone by myself to fill our car with gas the other day, and I calculated we could make it all the way to the lakefront, specifically the parking lot of a beach Allison and I used to visit every summer, and then back home without having to refuel. It would only take us about two hours each way.
As we drove, Timmy and Liz mostly stayed occupied on their tablets. I wondered whether they were playing that fruit game again, watching that movie for the thirtieth time, or perhaps reading some e-book. Whatever they were doing, they were quiet. Allison and I looked at each other, having a conversation with our eyes, a skill we adopted when Timmy got old enough to understand our words. We couldn’t say much in that silent car, but we could say: Finally.
During a stretch of the trip, we went through a series of small downtowns. The shops stood above empty streets, many with signs that indicated they were closed, whether temporarily or permanently. Some shops had boarded their windows or even chain-locked their doors. Liz had looked up from her tablet.
“Why is everything closed?”
Allison made eye contact with me, saying, You take this one.
“That’s a good question. These stores are closed for the same reason you’ve been home from school.”
“They’re closed because Charlie threw up?” She asked, confused. Charlie was a boy at their school.
“This is bigger than Charlie, Lizzie. Samantha got sick too. She was supposed to do show and tell but her mom called the teacher to say she was not feeling up to it.” Timmy said.
“Timmy has a point, Liz. This is bigger than just Charlie.” I said.
“How big is it, Dad?” She asked.
“As big as the world.” I said.
“Why?” She asked.
I looked at Allison, It’s your turn.
“Who remembers the story of Adam and Eve?” Allison asked.
“I do! I do!” They both squirmed.
“Okay, Lizzie. What did they do?”
“They named the animals!” Timmy yelled.
“I’m asking Lizzie. What else did they do?”
“They ate a bad fruit.” Liz said.
“Yes. And Timmy, what happened when they ate the bad fruit?”
“They were kicked out by a flaming sword.” He lifted his hand in the air as if he were unsheathing that very sword.
“Yes, they were kicked out because something had crept into their hearts once they ate that bad fruit. Can you remember what had crept into their heart?”
They were both silent.
“Sin.” Allison said.
“I knew that!” Timmy said.
“And sin caused them to die. And sin did not stay with them, but it spread to the whole world. It touches me, it touches your Dad, and it has touched both of you as well.”
“Are we going to die?”
“Not today!” I laughed.
“So,” Timothy thought out loud, “just like sin spread to the whole world, so this new disease will kill everyone?”
“That’s the thing,” Allison said, “we could not stop sin from spreading, but we can stop this new disease from spreading. We could not protect ourselves from sin, not after Adam and Eve ate the bad fruit, but we can protect ourselves from this disease.”
“How?” Liz asked.
“Well, how did Noah protect himself and his family from the flood?”
“Animals!” Timothy shrieked.
“Yes, they had animals,” I said, “but how were they protected from the worldwide flood?”
“They waited on the ark.” Liz said.
“Yes,” I said, “this car, our home—that’s our ark.”