On Sunday, Nathan had expected to see Marie at church, but her parents said she wouldn’t be coming to Orem until that evening. It made him uneasy. He was sure she would’ve wanted to spend the day with him.
He texted her after the meetings, and she responded that she’d be at her parents’ home by 5 p.m. and that she had some items to discuss. He immediately called her, but she didn’t answer. Something strange was definitely going on.
Nathan spent the afternoon with his family as more reports came in about the California earthquake. Vanessa had been able to reach her siblings, and although their homes had been damaged, they and their families had escaped serious injuries.
However, more than 1,000 deaths had been reported, and even the most optimistic estimates indicated that everyday life wouldn’t return to normal there for several weeks. The destruction of the freeway system had paralyzed the whole region.
As Nathan watched the scenes of destruction, he felt strongly that he should convince Marie to stay in Utah. This earthquake was going to have a ripple effect on the nation’s economy, and could lead to more unrest, especially in Chicago.
At five o’clock he drove over to the Shaws’ home, and it was obvious he was interrupting a family fight as Aaron opened the door. Marie had tears in her eyes, and her parents looked angry.
Nathan stepped cautiously into the front room. “Should I come back later?”
“No, we need to talk things out,” Aaron said.
Marie came to him and took hold of his arm. “They’re trying to get me to cancel my internship. That’s why I stayed in Salt Lake until this afternoon.”
Carol shook her head. “We’re just worried you haven’t thought things through. I saw on the news that two more companies are moving their headquarters out of Chicago because of all the violence there lately.”
“I’ll be fine!” Marie screamed at her. “What are you so scared about? I told you I’ll be in the safest part of the city.”
Aaron tried to stay calm as he said, “Look at all the looting and murders that are already happening so fast in California. You know the Carters? They went on vacation there last week, but the bishop said they’re stuck now and are in real danger. It just seems like the whole nation is on edge, and things could explode. I don’t want to send you out into it.”
Everyone stood tensely for a moment before Nathan said quietly, “Your parents are right.”
“Now you’re on their side?” Marie asked incredulously. “Was everything you told me on Friday a big lie?”
“No, but you don’t seem to realize it’s dangerous out there, and it’s going to get worse! You’re a beautiful woman going alone to a city filled with thugs. What good is an internship if you wind up dead?”
Marie wiped away some tears. “You sound just like my dad. All my life I’ve heard nothing but doomsday predictions. ‘Joseph Smith said this, John Taylor said that.’ He’s been talking about the last days for as long as I can remember, and what has happened? Nothing! Absolutely nothing!”
“That’s not true,” Nathan said. “The prophecies are all coming together, and it’s going to be a huge mess. You need to stay close to home.”
Marie gave him an exasperated look. “Some of those prophecies are nearly 200 years old, and it could be another century before they come true. I highly doubt the world is going to collapse during my four months in Chicago.”
She backed away from him like a caged animal. “Don’t you realize how hard I worked to get this internship? I beat out more than a thousand applicants! I’m going, no matter what any of you say.”
She marched across the room to the stairway then turned around. “Nathan, I think you better leave. I care about you, but if you can’t support me on this, then things just aren’t going to work out between us. Don’t call me again.”
She then climbed the stairs without looking back. Carol started crying and excused herself, and Aaron looked devastated.
Nathan felt sick inside and turned toward the door, but Aaron grabbed his arm and whispered, “Hey, you said the right things. I admire you for that.”
Nathan sighed. “I suppose, but it feels like my heart has been stomped on.”
“I understand, but don’t give up on her. You’re the best thing that has happened to her in a long time.”
Nathan shrugged. “I’ll check in with you in a few days after she’s gone, but I think for now I’ll do as she said and leave her alone.”
“That’s probably best,” Aaron said. “She can be stubborn, so just give her some space.”
“I will. You know what? I really hope she’s right about the future, and that we’re wrong.”
“Believe me, Nathan. So do I.”