Somewhere in the deep woods of North Carolina. A two-lane highway. The middle of the night. It’s dark outside.
Thomas is driving with his windows down because his AC doesn’t work. The gust coming from the window helps him think. He is on an all-night drive back to his hometown. His dog, Rascal, sits beside him.
He’s left Houston forever. His girlfriend dumped him for his best friend. A guy Thomas might have even asked to be his best man. When he discovered the affair it was the worst double betrayal of a lifetime. It was like being stabbed from both sides.
So he’s bitter. He’s angry. Thomas does not believe in anything good anymore. The world is out to get him. There is no such thing as love. People are inherently bad. Santa Claus is a jerk. The Easter Bunny is evil incarnate. And there is nothing sacred in the sky. Nothing whatsoever. The sky is empty.
This is not Thomas’s best year.
So he is going home with his tail tucked. He quit a comfortable job at a great company. He left his apartment and took his most basic belongings.
Two-lane highways in the Carolinas are vacant in the midnight hours. They cut through hilly, tree-filled valleys like a ride at Six Flags. Sometimes you’re lucky if you pass one or two cars at night. Some highways are poorly lit, others don’t even have reflective dots in the middle of the road. Old rural routes can be dangerous.
Here comes a pair of headlights. The two lights are rocketing down the center of the highway, careening straight for him.
Thomas honks his horn. The lights don’t change course. They’re traveling seventy, hogging up the whole highway, riding the middle line.
In a microsecond, Thomas runs through his options. Veer right? No, there’s a steep embankment. Left? Nothing but big trees. He’s a dead man, that’s what he’s thinking.
So he lays on the horn.
The lights get closer. Thomas can see the lights are attached to a semi truck that is racing toward hell in a hurry.
No time left to think. Thomas either dies in a head-on collision or dies twisted against a pine trunk, engulfed in flames. He jerks right. He aims his steering wheel for the embankment and slams his brakes.
The last thing he remembers is the weightlessness. It is an odd feeling, floating like this, above the earth. A loud boom comes next. The car hits the ground hard enough to fracture steel. He hears Rascal making loud cries. He sees the trees rushing up at him.
The young man blacks out.
He’s unconscious for what feels like years. His mind is in some other place. It is a place where he is just sort of “there.” He can’t explain it. He says it’s almost like being suspended in the the ocean, with miles of water above and below. You’re not sure where you are, you’re just—you know—out there.
He hears things. It sounds like music. Or is it singing? No. It’s speaking. But he can’t hear what the voices are saying.
“Thomas!” the voices shout. “It’s gonna be alright. We’re here.”
When Thomas comes to, his vision is dim and he can’t see much. He is being removed from his car by arms. Two sets of arms. He catches a glimpse of strangers. It looks like they’re wearing brown overalls, like welders, or maybe steelworkers. They know his name.
“You’re okay, Thomas! You’re alright! We’ve got you.”
That’s all he remembers. And he can’t even be sure about this, either.
What he can be sure about is that somehow, a passing truck finds him lying outside his car while it is burning. Thomas is all alone. No witnesses. Thomas also knows that, somehow, he has sustained no injuries except a concussion. Not even a scratch on his cheek.
Rascal is gone.
Two days later Thomas revisits the scene of the accident with his mother and father. He sees the charred spot where it happened. Blackened earth. Scorched trees. He finds some of his scattered belongings in the woods. A bobblehead figurine. A pack of cigarettes. Old books.
The shock is finally wearing off and it is all hitting him at once. Although he is still confused about what happened—which is why he hasn’t told anyone about his rescuers. Who were those men? Why did they leave? How did they know his name? Is he going crazy?
That’s when His mother hears something.
She leaves Thomas to follows a sound through the woods and arrives at a rundown house on a dirt road. The place has a fenced-in yard with junk everywhere and old outbuildings. And dogs.
She knocks on the door. An old woman answers. The lady says that a few nights ago a stray showed up in her backyard and started eating food from her cat bowls. She shooed him away, but he wouldn’t leave.
Rascal is sitting pretty. Completely unharmed.
Thomas’s mother brings the dog to her son. Rascal sees Thomas and the dog is immediately airborne, sprinting forward like a college linebacker after the pizza guy. The animal slams into the young man, knocks him onto his back, and bathes Thomas in puppy saliva.
Thomas is on his rump, holding Rascal, staring upward at the clouds. He begins to cry. Because there in the deep woods of North Carolina, off the little two-lane rural route, Thomas decides that he was wrong.
The sky is not empty.
Arabella - October 11, 2020 6:44 am
GaryD - October 11, 2020 10:05 am
A story with a message and a happy ending. It’s not so bad after all. Great story. Glad I read it first thing this morning.
chip plyler - October 11, 2020 11:04 am
The sky is not empty, but the tomb was
Ann - October 11, 2020 11:06 am
Life can do that to you……have faith or renewed faith🙏🏻
Bradleigh McKinley - October 11, 2020 11:08 am
Sandy Jarrett - October 11, 2020 11:26 am
Margaret Ochs - October 11, 2020 11:36 am
Such a sweet beginning to my day. Thank you!
Timothy Alan Burnette - October 11, 2020 11:59 am
Great reminder ..the sky is not empty
Jan - October 11, 2020 12:35 pm
I sure needed this today! God is good. Thank you for the reminder …
Dana Key - October 11, 2020 12:36 pm
I love your writing, and I look forward to reading it daily. I have seen you lately on commercials on TV! You are a handsome red-haired guy, and I know you have a wonderful life full of adventures with a beautiful wife. I am one of your many “biggest” fans, Sean.
Dr. Dana Key, Albertville, AL
Xan - October 11, 2020 12:38 pm
You say Watchers I say Angels. I like your choice of words too.
Sharon Brock - October 11, 2020 12:43 pm
Thank you Sean for the reminder. We are not alone.
Lydia - October 11, 2020 12:47 pm
Christine G - October 11, 2020 12:48 pm
Please don’t stop writing and sharing your stories!
Jim Rooks - October 11, 2020 12:58 pm
This is a tremendous story, so much to think about. Thanks Sean!
Lu Chappell - October 11, 2020 1:04 pm
Amen, Sean. Amen. God’s timing is perfect. ❤️
Jenny Young - October 11, 2020 1:09 pm
How often I look at the sky & it feels so empty.
Thanks Thomas, for sharing your story.
Bobbie - October 11, 2020 1:33 pm
I keep saying ‘one of your best’ and I realize they’re all the best. Each with their own lesson. This was a powerful one. Thomas was spared, the angels were ready the moment they were sent! A wonderful story Sean…proof that no matter how tough things get, we get up, dust ourselves off, and start again. There’s so much out there still to learn and to be thankful for.
And thank you for giving the story an even happier ending….finding Rascal! (I knew he’d be ok🤗)
God bless you❤️
Steve Watkins - October 11, 2020 1:38 pm
So there is hope.
Margaret - October 11, 2020 1:39 pm
What a story for any morning, but especially on Sunday morning! Thank you, Sean.
Jackie McClung - October 11, 2020 1:53 pm
Not only is the sky not empty — someone does love him.
Betty - October 11, 2020 2:12 pm
Joretta Parker - October 11, 2020 2:34 pm
Yes there are angels on earth as well as in heaven.
Becca - October 11, 2020 2:38 pm
Just as we are surrounded by Evil, we are also surrounded by God’s Angels! God is with us even when we don’t realize it! Amen!
Linda Moon - October 11, 2020 4:11 pm
We had a dog named Rascal. He was cute, but strange. He left us and never came back. I’m glad, very glad, that Thomas and his Rascal were rescued. Let’s all keep watching for savers that come from many places, including the sky. One of those savers won’t ever leave us!
Heidi - October 11, 2020 4:54 pm
We all need saving and Watchers in one way or another. Thank you for Thomas’ story.
Terri - October 11, 2020 5:02 pm
I’m not crying, you’re crying.
God is good all the time. Love you much Sean.
Sue Rhodus - October 11, 2020 6:22 pm
Very moving..and ..YES they are among us.
Dave Conkle - October 11, 2020 6:25 pm
Thanks Sean . God is always with us
MAM - October 11, 2020 7:28 pm
Angels know where you are!
Dean - October 11, 2020 10:23 pm
Thanks for the message today
Jane - October 11, 2020 11:34 pm
Thanks for the reminder. We are not alone.
Joann Thompson - October 12, 2020 12:55 am
I have felt those arms before. It’s real. I wish Thomas the best.
Dawn Bratcher - October 12, 2020 3:33 pm
How beautiful for Thomas as he realizes who saved him & Rascal! Thank you for sharing.
Susan - October 12, 2020 11:31 pm
Beautiful! No, the sky is not empty.
Tammy S. - October 13, 2020 2:50 am
Loved this one! God is good, all the time!
Chasity Davis Ritter - October 13, 2020 6:23 pm
As long as there is a dog in this world who loves you then you are never alone. And funny that dog backwards spells God. HE is always with you too and will never ever forsake or leave you even if your mad and want Him too. Great story. Thanks for sharing.
Robert M Brenner - October 14, 2020 12:42 pm
It’s hard to know what to say other than “Thank you”! I needed this story today. You are a very special person and fantastic writer. God’s gift to you and us your readers 😇❤️
Judy Beaver Waldrop - October 14, 2020 3:54 pm
Oh my how glad I am that discovered Sean Dietrich a few years ago. My precious life giver in times of need.