The inspiration for this flash fiction comes from my time living in Oklahoma. I hope you enjoy…
I ran out to the porch, my hair sweeping across my face uncontrollably. The wind, whipping my skirt against my legs, was getting stronger. I saw the funnel shaped cloud looming closer and closer to our farm, and it wasn’t the first time in my fifteen years. My favorite pig, Pansy, would have to fend for herself. A loud yell reminded me of why I had emerged from the house. A car had crashed into our tractor. I knew from experience I had mere minutes before my family’s farm would be at the mercy of the large cloud dealing out death to those unaware. It would have to be now or never.
I picked up my skirt in one hand and ran to the mangled car on the other side of our white picket fence. The car had taken out our mailbox too. Pop was gonna be pissed. There, in the backseat I found him, a boy my age, his head in his hands. An elderly man and woman lay slumped over in the front seat, unmoving.
“You gotta get out of the car! There’s a twister comin’ and it ain’t gonna stop just for you!” I yelled, already opening the car door.
“I can’t just leave them here. My pop and nana are all I have left,” he yelled back at me.
Figures. I checked the old folks in front; realizing what I already suspected. I grabbed him by his shirt and yelled directly in his face so that there would be no argument. “Look, your pop and nana can’t be saved. I’m all you got now. So am I gonna have to drag you outa here like a boy, or are you gonna be a man?”
It seemed to work, as he nodded, following me out from the car to my storm shelter. I wondered why I hadn’t gone with ma and pop to the horse show, as I opened up the creaky door leading down into darkness. The boy followed me down the steps. After I secured the door, there was nothing to do but wait. We sat on the dirt floor not making a sound, listening to the dark cloud wreaking havoc a few feet above us. I knew the doors would hold; they had done their job numerous times before.
I cleared my throat. “I’m sorry ‘bout what I said. I didn’t mean no harm, it’s just we needed to get out of the storm,” I said hoping to ease the tension. Ma always says I stick my nose where it don’t belong. Well, sometimes, it needs stickin’.
The boy wiped the tears from his cheeks, and calmly replied, “S’ok. I get it.”
Well all right then. “You from around here? I don’t recognize you from school,” I said, already knowing the answer based on his neat, tidy clothes.
“We were on vacation. My nana and pop were my only family, but I guess that doesn’t matter now,” he said, staring at the doors.
I laughed nervously. “Vacation? Why would anyone want to visit round’ here?”
Before he could answer, the door to the shelter started banging loudly; I grabbed his hand without thinking. When the wind let go, we looked down at our white knuckles, our hands clasped tightly. We pulled away at the same time, but our eyes met.
“That was a close one, huh?” he asked.
“Yeah, it must be one heck of a storm. You okay? You’re not scared or nothin,’ are ya?” I asked trying to control my own nerves.
“I’ll live,” he said, his eyes focused on mine, seeming to really notice me for the first time. “Thanks by the way…for coming to find me, and letting me stay down here with you. My name is John. What’s yours?”
“My name’s Tessalyn, but people call me Tess.”
We didn’t talk much after that. Finally, when our senses told us the world above had returned to normal, we emerged from the shelter hand in hand, ready to assess the damage.
Years later, standing in front of a congregation dressed in black, I crumpled up the notes in my hand, no longer needing them. My husband would always be with me, and I could recall every detail of the day we met.