July 13th, the day I dreaded the most, had arrived. It was a dark
morning; clouds covered the skies as I rose from my bed. For me,
it was the summer between 6th and 7th grade. This was the day I
was going to the orthodontist to get braces. I slowly sat up on
my bed, squeezed my eyes tight shut, hoping when I opened them
this day would have magically passed by. I was 12 years old, and
at that age getting braces was one of the most horrible things
that could ever happen to you. It is hard enough being a hormone
raging awkward pre-teen, but now I have to have a mouth full of
metal to go with it? Just as I stood up from my bed I heard my
mom yell to me from down the hall
"Twenty minutes! We have to leave in twenty minutes or we are
going to be late!"
"Ok, mom," I whisper back, clearly not hiding my enthusiasm.
I quickly dressed and walked out of my room and into the
bathroom. I gazed at myself in the mirror, tilting my head back
and forth, opening and closing my mouth, just to get one last
look at my normal teeth, because from what the dentist had told
me, it would be another four years until I could see myself
without train tracks covering my pearly whites. I combed through
my hair, brushed my teeth, and walked out of the bathroom. I was
greeted by my older sister, Jess, who was carrying my younger
sister, Jackie, to the car. As they both passed by me, my younger
brother, Josh, teetered passed me like a drunken sailor, the way
that toddlers do when they are learning how to walk.
"Come on, Enny," he called to me as he passed; he still had
trouble saying Jenny, so for now "Enny" was my name.
I followed, only because I had to, not because I wanted to. We
loaded ourselves into the van. I took my place in the front
passenger seat, next to my mom, Jackie and Josh were buckled into
their car seats, and my older sister, Jess, daintily placed
herself onto the bench in the back of the van. My mom started the
car and off we went.
As I was saying before, it was a cloudy day, and as we drove to
the orthodontist, the clouds seemed to laugh at me evilly as they
rolled over eachother in very threatening ways. They were not
very dark clouds, so I did not think anything of the weather; my
mind was occupied still with the fact that in a few short hours,
I would have painful and ugly braces. We pulled up to the
orthodontist, and one by one piled out of the van. We walked into
the building, and the smell hit me. Dentists, doctors' offices,
hospitals, orthodontists, they all had that same smell: the smell
of sterilizer and fear. I hated that smell, but I did my best to
hind my underlying terror. My mom patted me on the back as the
nurse led me to my doom.
"We will be waiting right here when you are done," She said to me
with a smile.
I simply nodded and unwillingly followed the nurse.
For three hours, I had to lie on an uncomfortable, white, squeaky
clean chair, with my mouth wide open while the orthodontist and
nurses poked, cut and glued. Finally, it was over. They sat me up
and gave me a mirror. I slowly spread my lips, forming a sad,
wide grin, and looked at what would be the next four years of my
life. I stood up and stretched while the nurse droned on about
how to clean my braces and when to wear my rubber bands and how
to floss and brush my teeth, I just wanted to go home.
I walked out into the waiting room and gave a half hearted smile
to my mom.
"See? It wasn't so bad," she said to me as she gave me a nudge on
"You look funny, Enny," my brother declared as he looked up from
his Legos he had been playing with.
"Well, thank you.You look funny, too," I retorted at the three
year old, who just smiled at the insult.
We packed up our things and headed back out to the car. As we
walked out, I noticed a horrible change in the weather. The skies
were no longer grey, but black. The wind whipped around me as I
jogged to the car. I could hear the trees that surrounded us
creak and moan in warning of the weather to come. We all piled
back in the car, but since I had gotten to ride shot gun on the
way to the orthodontist, my older sister, Jess, insisted that she
get to sit up front. I climbed into the back of the van and
plopped myself down, being depressed about the horrible metal
taste that covered my entire mouth. As we started to drive, I
could feel the wind pulling our van in whichever direction it
pleased; my mom must have noticed, too because she flipped on the
radio to the AM weather station. The man on the radio was saying
that there were severe thunderstorm warnings for the surrounding
cities, including the one we were in. Since it was just a
thunderstorm warning, I tried not to let it worry me, but as I
peered up at the now greenish sky, I got a horrible jolt of
anxiety that rumbled through my entire body. I could hear my
mother mumbling something to herself from the front seat about
this not being just a thunderstorm.
I began to think about how in storms, they always tell you not to
sit by windows. I looked to my right at the huge window next to
me; I decided it might be a good idea to move to the middle seat.
Just as I went to take one last look out the window, I saw it: a
huge, swirling monster falling from the sky. I reached across my
body with my right arm to unbuckle myself in my panicked state.
Just as I did so, I heard a huge crash and a blood curtailing
scream, then nothing. I frantically looked around, and it was as
if time had stopped, but only for me. I saw my mom yelling for me
to go to the front of the van and get on the floor. I saw Jess
unbuckling my little siblings and tearing Jackie out of her seat
as she tucked both of them under the dashboard. Then reality
snapped in, and I realized that horrific scream had come from me.
I looked to my right where the huge window once was to see that
it was no longer there and that my brother, Josh, and me were
covered with broken glass. Almost as if someone had shoved me
forward, I leapt off my seat and dove to the ground between my
mom's chair and the middle bench in the van;just as I did my
three-year-old brother, Josh, laid on top of my back; he was
I heard my mom praying and Jackie crying; I began to scream,
realizing that there was blood pouring from my arm that had been
sliced open by the flying shards of glass from the window that
had smashed all over me. My brother, who was still on top of me,
gently pat me on the back and whispered in my ear.
"It's going to be ok, Enny, it's going to be ok," and laid his
face next to mine and squeezed me tight.
As I peered into his soft innocent face, it was then that I
realized that I had been selfish: all I had cared about for the
last six months was my appearance, worrying that I would look
ugly with braces. I realized then, in the midst of a tornado in a
broken van on the highway with no shelter, that none of these
things were as important as my family. I knew then as my brother
clung to my back that everything would be ok, because if I did
not have anything else, I would have my family, and that is all I
needed. I repeated the words that my brother had spoken over and
over in my head, "It's going to be ok," and it was.
After about ten minutes, the car stopped rocking; the horrible
sound of whipping wind and large tree branches flying passed,
finally stopped as rain began to fall from the exhausted sky. I
slowly sat up and put my brother back up on his chair. My sisters
peered out from under the dash, and we all looked over at my mom.
This whole time, while everyone else was panicking, my mom had
stayed calm and did what she had always done best: she protected
her family. We all looked around at our outside surroundings and
were shocked to find that in the midst of a tornado, my mother
had managed to get all of her children home, safe and sound.
Now and then, I think about this event. I think about it when I
am driving, or when a bad storm comes through my neighborhood, or
simply when someone asks me about the scar on my elbow. But
sometimes, this memory flashes through my mind when I am feeling
down. And to many people's surprise, it makes me feel better,
because I hear in my mind, those words that such a wise three
year old whispered in my ear ten years ago, "It's going to be
ok," and that's all I have to remember, and I know it will be.
With the love and support of my family, I know, everything is
always going to be just fine.