This story is due to go to submission sometime next week. The story is about a father and his two children experiencing a tornado.
It was an unusually hot and humid day in Aurora, Nebraska. I entered the school bus, took a window seat near the front and waited for the driver to start his long route towards home. Looking out of the window I watched as the clouds darkened and swirled, twisting and turning in waves of various shades of grey and black. Then the rain came, light at first, and only minutes later in huge bulbous drops that pelted the windshield. Not long after, hail began to fall, starting as tiny chips of ice and quickly becoming golf ball sized chunks that were banging hard against the metal roof.
Stop after stop, parents hurried their children away from the bus and into waiting vehicles, each of them determined to make it to safety before the severe weather hit. Lightning cracked again and again, frightening the remaining children who shrank away from their illuminated windows. Mr. Gerald, the bus driver, was doing his best to reassure us that it was better to continue the route than to return to the school. Looking back on it now I guess he knew we’d never have made it in time.
Finally, the bus rounded the corner of our street and stopped in front of our mailbox. My twin brother, Ralphie, exited the bus and took off running, I followed. As I turned to see the bus pull away, the tail of a tornado emerged from the clouds and made its way toward the ground. Still running, I watched as it thickened and began to gobble up everything in its path. It tore through our neighbor, Mr. Thompson’s, corn field and then wove a jagged course before plowing into Mr. Jameson’s barn. The wood frame splintered! Then a portion of the roof gave way and flew up into the air, as the hungry monster fed on a diet of farming tools and pieces of old furniture.
Ralphie had nearly made it to the barn when dad appeared at the entrance.
He yelled, his voice muffled by the roaring winds.
"Ralphie! Charity! Hurry and help me turn out the animals. They’ll be safer in the fields."
It was then that he saw the tornado for the first time and together we stood, frozen, as we watched it consume Mrs. Jackson’s old Chevy. After digesting its meal, the tornado turned and headed right for us. We turned and sped into the barn. I saw dad yanking open the storm cellar doors, as I raced past. The horses were afraid; they had begun kicking at the walls of their stalls and were making a terrible ruckus. As I pulled the latches on each of their gates, they galloped out and together stampeded through the open barn doors and out into the treeless pasture.
I wheeled around to find Ralphie. He had already released the sheep and goats from their corrals and was running toward me pointing. His face was contorted and his attempts at speaking were in vain as his words were carried away by the wind. I spun to see where his finger indicated. The ugly black mouth of the tornado was barreling down our driveway headed right for us. Dad was waving his arms franticly trying to get our attention and then motioning us to him.
Ralphie took my hand and tugged. The action spurred my feet into motion once more. Together we raced into the storm shelter, helped our father bolt the doors and moved back into the safety of the darkness. Almost instantaneously, the doors of the shelter began to shake and bang. The wind howled, and then sounded as if a train were rushing past us. All was quiet for mere seconds before the wind clawed at the door for a second time. Then as quickly as it came, it was gone. I could hear the rain once again.
"Is everyone alright?" Dad said with concern. "Charity? Ralphie?"
"I’m fine!" I said with a bit more confidence then I felt.
"Me too!" Ralphie squeaked.
We sat there huddled together for many minutes before attempting to venture outside of our safe haven. When the doors were pushed open I stepped into the light and scanned my surroundings. Our barn had been badly damaged but it was nothing compared to the devastation we could have experienced. The size of this tornado was insignificant to the one that took mom away.