When Heaven Touched Earth: May 22nd 2011

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This work was based upon an interview and my own knowledge of tornados. It's late so I figured, eh why not write it. I've been through three myself that I remember and helped with the clean up for the Joplin tornado over two years ago. This town has come a long way.

Submitted: December 09, 2013

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Submitted: December 09, 2013

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The wind was a swirling hell breeze that the clouds rolled upon. I can recall the exact moment the rain started to fall. It was sudden, and started out as a kind of sprinkle. The air was hot and humid like is typical of a late may evening. All of the newly graduated High school students would be running through the football field grabbing hold of their hats they had not yet tossed.  I smiled at the audacity of a spring time shower.

The weatherman had stated that there was a chance of severe weather, but at this time of year the days of chances outnumber the days that have no chance of rain. No one could have ever known how the highs and lows might tangle in the summer sun; the slab of cold forcing its way beneath the light warm air causing the clouds to tower into the oblivions of heaven. Somehow no one had noticed the turning of the leaves or the silence of the birds our ancestors would have noted some one hundred years before. Now it seems so obvious.

Thunder shook our one story house. A tingle of anxiety mixed with the excitement of an experienced storm chaser. If you live here long enough you become one with the feeling. I wanted no less then to watch the lightning dart across the darkening sky, unlike my boyfriend, who had recently moved here from California. Every clash that sent blue light streaking from one place to the next made him shake like a nervous puppy. This was his first storm.

My son sat by the television watching the colored band scroll across the bottom. We were in a tornado watch. This meant that the conditions had been met for a tornado, but none had been seen. So pretty much it meant nothing. I assured my boyfriend that it would be alright and calmly pulled the mattress off of our bed placing it diagonal across the only interior hallway in our house.

“See,” I said, “if we need to go we will lay down on the floor under the mattress in the hallway. I’ve done this a million times. I know everything will be okay.” I smiled at him and place my hands on his shoulder. The look of concern never left his face once. “I’ll go get some pillows. Just in case.”

I was pondering over whether to take the throw pillows from the floor or the more comfortable ones off of my son’s bed when I heard my name called over from the living room. My boyfriend’s eyes were wide as he and my son watch the weatherman frantically call out to the citizens of our town.

“Seek shelter. Do not hesitate. A funnel cloud has been spotted forming over the Joplin area and is expected to touch down in the next fifteen minutes. I repeat this is not a watch this is a warning, seek shelter immediately. A basement or crawl space is ideal. A hallway or any other type of interior room is second best. Stay out of ditches and cars. I repeat…” then the power went out. We could hear the sirens blaring now as the temperature began to drop substantially. I grabbed my son by the hand and pulled him into the hallway.

“Get down everyone!” the words escaped my mouth forcefully without kindness. The air spiraled to the ground. I could close my eyes and envision a train bulleting through the neighborhood around us. It was in all directions. It neither came nor went. As my family and I lay on the floor the train rocketed all around us.

This was the first moment I experienced absolute breathlessness. It was if the oxygen was being sucked away from the floor. I coughed in desperation. My son cried in fear while the atmosphere turned against us. We gasped, and counted the seconds that seemed to turn to minutes. My burning lungs drove me up on my knees and then to my feet.

The hallway existed like a wind tunnel. My hair blew around my head unsystematically which kept me from pushing it back for a better view. Between the lashes of my long black hair I saw where the living room had been now our neighbor’s house swayed, to and past its breaking point. I pushed myself away from the gaping hole grabbing onto the knob of the bathroom door. I was being blown to it.

My boyfriend called my name. He cried for me to return to the floor, but I was hypnotized by the unearthly physics of it all. I was spinning like the clouds that took my house.

“I want to watch.” He did not like my answer. Quickly he hopped up, and steadied his footing. The breeze blew between us as he reached for me. The storm wanted me. It begged for me to open that bathroom door. I wanted to see what waited on the other side, and just as I began to turn the only thing keeping me on this ground I felt his fingers lace through my hair.

With one good yank he pulled me back to my senses. He wedged his body low in the frame work of the door, and held me by the hair face first into the carpet of our hallway. Then eternity passed.

I remember the moment the rain stopped falling. It was sudden and came with the scent of spring. Somewhere the clouds had moved on, and nothing remained but the cold overcast of their departure. My son cried out pinned under the mattress and the strong sustainable interior wall of the hallway. My boyfriend slowly released the grip on my head. Though a clump of hair had been removed I was very thankful for the way he had saved my life.

We stood together homeless inside the outside that used to be our home. The bathroom was gone, as well as the kitchen, living room, and bedrooms. Only our hallway remained a beacon of survival amongst the ruin of our town. We held each other, and we wondered where we would go. We hoped that no one had been hurt, but from the look of things realism was at its cruelest. However we did have our lives, so walked down the rubble covered streets crying in joy and pain.

 


© Copyright 2020 NatelinJean. All rights reserved.

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