Sean Dietrich

There is one particular evening that will stand out in Carolyn’s mind forever. The evening when her husband was rounding a curve on a rural highway, with her in the passenger seat, and a disaster happened.

It was late, the night was indelible-ink black, and there was a large deer standing in the headlights, wearing that look of bewilderment on its face. Her husband’s reflexes kicked in and he jerked the wheel.

Bad idea.

The car lost traction and plunged through the flimsy guardrail, tearing down the steep embankment. The next thing Carolyn remembers is awaking upside down in her seat, suspended by a seatbelt, half conscious. Then she heard someone say her name.

“Carolyn.”

At first she thought it was her husband speaking. But when she opened her eyes she saw that he was unconscious.

And still, she kept hearing her name.

“Carolyn. Wake up.”

She turned to see a young man staring at her from behind the passenger window. He had scraggly facial hair, a plaid shirt, and a kind face.

“Come with me, Carolyn,” the young man said.

Then he lifted Carolyn and her husband out of the car and carried them both.

She doesn’t remember much after that except that, after a few minutes, she and her husband were both safely propped against a tree, waiting for ambulances, and the young man vanished.

The first responders asked Carolyn all the usual questions. Then they asked how she managed to muscle her heavy husband out of the vehicle. She told them it was the young man.

They looked at her like she was one short thigh short of a blue plate special.

“Ma’am, there’s nobody on this highway,” they said.

Here’s another one I heard. This story came to me from a young man who I’ll call Jeremy, from Kansas.

Jeremy was babysitting his infant daughter one night while his wife was away at work. Jeremy had just put the child down for a long nap when he heard someone call him from down the hall. It was a man’s voice.

The voice whispered, “Help your daughter.”

That was all the voice said. At first Jeremy thought the voice was just his imagination, but it continued.

So he sprang to his feet and rushed into his daughter’s bedroom to find that she had fallen from her crib and wedged herself between the wall and bed. She was suffocating.

But here’s the thing: the girl survived. And it was all because of a voice.

Or how about the woman in Oregon who sent me a letter about how she once lived in a fifth-wheel camper with her two kids. She had fallen on hard times, her husband was out of the picture, and the camper was parked on her brother’s acreage.

One night, the woman was jostled awake by an unseen hand, gripping her shoulder.

“Get up,” said the unseen person. “Get your kids out of here.”

Then, almost as if on cue, she smelled something strong. Propane. She wandered dizzily into the kitchen and found that one of her dogs had jumped on the stove and turned the gas knob. The camper was inundated with heavy fumes and her children were asleep.

This is how people die in campers.

But not her family, and not that fateful night. She rushed her kids from the camper and thankfully, nobody was hurt.

And I’m just getting warmed up.

My last story comes from a guy in east Texas. He was on his way home one evening when he noticed an older man and woman on the side of the highway, pushing a shopping cart, carrying large backpacks. The man and woman looked as though they had slept in the same clothes since the Kennedy administration.

The young man pulled over and asked if they needed a ride. The two vagrants gladly accepted. And, just as the young man was about to drop them off at a truckstop, the old woman looked at him and said, “Have you checked on your mom lately?”

“What?” he replied.

She repeated, and added, “Your mom. Call her.”

The young man used a payphone to call his mother only to have his dad answer the phone, who told him that his mother had just had a heart attack and was on her way to ICU.

The young man could hardly believe this. When he looked for the elderly couple at the truckstop to thank them, he could not find them. And nobody nearby had seen anyone matching their description.

I’m going to level with you. I get a lot of stories like this sent to my inbox. And truthfully, I never know who is behind the keyboard, sending me these anecdotes. In all honesty, sometimes I don’t know whether I believe all angel stories. Sometimes, I’m too skeptical. Sometimes I’m too much of a realist. And if I’m being even more honest with you, sometimes I don’t have that much faith at all.

But then, as I understand things, a well-known individual once said that it doesn’t take much.

Sean Dietrich is a columnist, and novelist, known for his commentary on life in the American South. His work has appeared in various magazines and newspapers and he has authored seven books.

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