The winds picked up. The rain continued to blow sideways. Two tall pine trees in our front yard were uprooted. Uprooted! Like the wind was pulling weeds. We had to raise our voices in the closet under the stairs to be able to hear each other over the sound of the wind and rain. (If you know my family, you know how ridiculously loud the wind and rain must have been.)
Dad eventually showed up safe and sound. He had wisely pulled over somewhere to wait the storm out. One of our neighbors had a tree crush their back deck. Another neighbor was pulling in to her driveway during the climax of the storm and claims she saw a tornado bounce over our houses. We lived at the bottom of a hill, so it could have happened, but it was never confirmed.
The first part of high school, we were living back in the Texas panhandle. (We moved a lot. Obviously.) Mom and Dad had gone to drop off little brother at the movies. It was something akin to a fifth grade date, but that’s beside the point. I stayed home by myself, because… well, I could. After they dropped off my brother and before they got back home, a tornado warning was issued for our county. We all heard it on the radio and reacted accordingly. Mom and Dad rushed back to the movie theater to…. well, I don’t really know what they thought they could do other than get inside a structure more stable than a suburban on the plains of Texas during a tornado.
Back at home, I grabbed my most prized possession at the time (a Casio keyboard, thankyouverymuch) and went to the basement. I liked having a basement. It was cozy and made a great place for slumber parties. It also kept me safe from my nemesis, the Tornado. However, once again, I had family members out in the storm, without cell phones. I’m not sure why nobody used the ever-present pay phones to check in or why my Dad managed to be driving when tornados touched down, but that was my life. And very likely the root of my fear.
That and the pictures in this book my parents had from the 1970 Lubbock tornado that killed 26 people and injured hundreds of others. Those pictures showed some buildings in tact, but literally twisted; chicken feathers embedded in hubcaps; and hotel curtains blown between the top of the wall and the ceiling. The only explanation for such a sight was that the tornado lifted the roof and set it back down before the curtains had a chance to fall back in place. That’s some freakish, scary power.
(That’s not the end. The conclusion is tomorrow. At least it’s not a “cliff-hanger” as my brother called them this morning on the phone. He’s not a big fan of not knowing something, as you can see.)