Being raised on a small farm in Dodge City, Kansas, the brown eyed and brown haired had their hands in the soil every day. They didn’t know much about reality except for what they had on the farm and what was in the wooden house next to the enormous farm. Christina is just a version of her dad, from the talk to the way they think and Christine is another similar version of her mom. The twins look exactly alike as if they were cloned; even their names have the same meaning. The Blevins are always passionate about farming; it was what they did for a living. Every morning every girl in town put on their finest dress and gossip about kids in school but the twins are different. They tied up their hair, put on an apron with food coloring stains on and helped their parents prepare breakfast then spent the rest of the day outdoor running form one place to the other. Unlike most places, this area does not have any trees or grass because not only these people stir up the top soil, they also cut down trees. “How can you have a farm in with vegetation?” Thomas once thought. Driving around the farms in town, one will see rows after rows of furrows which looked like giant worms. Every morning, everybody around town either worked on their farm or went to nearby cities to sale their products. Every week on Sunday after church, the girls jumped on to the back of the wagon, tried their hardest not to step on the pumpkins and tomatoes. Even though their lives are very busy, helping out people who are less fortunate is still a priority. Since the farm was so small and unknown the family couldn’t afford any technology, everything was done by hands. Every time someone in town needs help, they always tried their best even if it’s the middle of the night or if they had to give up their last meal.
Unfortunately that didn’t last so long; it was harder to make profits. The crops started turning from green to pale yellow then to brown in no time. The family started to worry, without farming there’s no food or profit. Christine asked one day, “Mom, dad why can we move to grandma’s in California?” Her parents thought about it for a moment but then declined because Kansas has been the home for the Blevins for many decades, possibly a century. Many folks in town started to notice that the water level nearby decreased drastically as if a giant is sucking up all the water. At that time most people didn’t think it will create anything detrimental. Ignored what was happening around them, they continued to dig furrows and plow the top soil. The lines on the surface of Earth look like snakes crawling looking for water. “It had happen before, and here we are, nothing has changed.” Thomas Blevins, the hero of the family said. It took years for the fertile land to build up but seconds for it to be destroyed.
In 1932, everyone thought their lives were going to be over. While watching TV, the family dropped their jaws and looked at each others’ eyes with the same message when the reporter said, “…14 dust storms had occurred…” They didn’t know what caused the deadly storms or worse they didn’t know they were the cause. Looking out the windows, dust flew around like a snowstorm. Black clouds of dirt and sand formed a dark blanket wrapped around Earth. The weather forecaster reported more and more storms. There was nothing they could do at the moment except to stuff their window frames with tape and wet rags as a storm refuge to ensure the safety of the family. Inside their bedrooms, they hung wet sheets to filter dirt but still every morning they gathered many pounds of dirt. They stopped farming; all they could do was cuddling up in a tiny room and hoping that there will be a tomorrow. The food on the shelves started to run out, poor Christine and Christina did everything they could to comfort their parents but sooner or later they have to face the truth. “What if this will never stop, what if you decided to leave us?” Christina asked, she always thought of the worst case scenario. “We’ll be fine, sweet heart. No matter what happens, we will always be together.” Betsy responded.
After a long week tightly packed inside the house like an army of ants, Christine followed dad outside for the first time. Everything looked so different under their eyes. Across the road, roofs of houses are laying on the unusable soil. Below the gigantic and fiery sun, the surface of Earth was vibrating and the atmosphere had an unpleasant scent of burned soil. “Dad is it just me or is everything a bit blurry?” Christine wondered. Thomas looked down at those innocent eyes of his daughter with sweats streamed down towards his chin. “Things are not the same anymore.” At that point Christine knew something severe was happening.
Nearby schools and banks were closed because everything seemed to be invisible unless they come into contact. Betsy sewed masks for the family, dust was everywhere, and there was so much dust that a human eye could detect it. At night when the children went to bed, “Mr. Krauss next door packed his wagon this morning. What do you think you should do?” Betsy whispered as she stood under the moonlight with Thomas. Then there was a silent between the two, they didn’t know if it was better to move or to stay because if everybody moves at once, it will just be as worse as staying. “I don’t know. There are no more jobs available in town, if we go somewhere else; I bet the best you can get is a low paid job.” Thomas answered as he wiped the dust off the window frames. They stood there for a moment silently thinking of all the years filled with prosperity.
As days went by, there was a huge storm on April 14, 1945; the wind was clocked at 60 mph. After that Sunday night the name “Dust Bowl” became official. The Blevins went through all the hardships everyone else went through but at least they still had a roof over their heads. Food was scarce; a bowl of white rice to them is like a fancy dinner. Just like they taught their children, they believed that one day help will come and everything will return to normal. Many folks in town migrated to the west, mainly California but deep down their heart Kansas is their home.
Just like they were expected, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established a “New Deal” which helped relieve poverty, reduced unemployment and speed economic recovery. He sparked up lives just life like a ray of sunshine after a storm. Sadly Betsy’s health worsens as time went by. Her voice faded slowly and the kids had to watch their mother struggled to get each word out of her mouth as if there was a marble in her throat. Later on that week, humongous white vehicles with red crosses on both sides drove down the road. The voice was not very clear but Thomas was able to hear the message as he dashed for the door like a gust of wind. “Red Cross coming to rescue!” As soon as he stepped out of the house, ahead of him people were rushing towards the vehicles. On the way back he saw a poor child sitting on the dirt and eating the dirt, he just couldn’t help it when their eyes met, and he put down half of the food he received from the Red Cross organization. “These are surplus food from the government.” Someone nearby whispered. When he arrived at the wooden house, he knew something was wrong, the atmosphere was just so dark. “Dad! Dad! Mom has problem breathing!” The girls’ voices echoed in the empty kitchen. Thomas couldn’t make out the last picture of his wife; his eyes were as red as the skin of an apple. Her chest expanded for the last time then the heavy eyelids covered her beautiful blue eyes before she could say a final goodbye. “She’s gone, isn’t she?” Christine asked with a trembling voice while holding her mom’s hand. The house was completely silent; when the Red Cross which was a humanitarian aid group who seeks for human welfare came it was too late. “I’m so sorry, she suffered from one of the most common diseases, and it’s called dust pneumonia.” A nurse explained.
After the loss of Betsy, the family was struggling at first but then they knew now they have to make all her dreams come true. A disaster relief organization, which helped the victims of the Dust Bowl, reported that during the storm there were 7,000 casualties. The storms left an aftermath or a result of 2.5 million homeless people. When the Dust Bowl was gone, it took away many relatives and possessions with it. It had a huge impact on many peoples’ lives that this ecological event will never be forgotten. At a community meeting, new farming methods were established by the citizens and President Roosevelt. Of course everything was destroyed, farmers lined up one after the other to receive new seeds from the government. Every farmer was to plant trees in shelter belts. After that they learned a life lesson, they understood the importance of trees and grasses, they held the soil in place.
One year later, Christine and Christina were twelve years old. Chasing one after the other on the same old farm, sometimes they thought of all the memories they had together with their mom. “Faith will solve everything.” That was what Betsy always says and they will forever live to that phrase.
© Copyright 2016 anhly. All rights reserved.
Short Story / Historical Fiction
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