2. Us kids.
3. In the hallway.
5. Then loud wailing from somewhere.
8. Mark stopped. We all stopped, stood still, stared.
13. Mark, the oldest, stared as if he could see, somehow, outside the house.
21. “What the hell?” he said, surprising us all because a few days ago mom had washed his mouth out with soap.
34. “What is it?” I breathed, wide-eyed. I believed there was a monster in the woods next to the house. I’d seen its footprints in the creek bed. I’d heard it going through the woods.
55. I’d felt it watching us from the woods yesterday when we’ d played in the leaf piles. It was a fort, Mark defending. Mark had killed me with catapulted leaves when I stared over at the woods. But this wasn’t the monster. The wailing was not like an animal. It was a siren.
89. Mom rushed in, hollering for us to go, go, go! Shooing us down the hall. Herding us into the bathroom. “Get in,” she said. “Get in, get in, get in,” and without thinking too much about it we piled on top of each other in the bathtub. Mary started crying. We all knew that would happen so no one paid it any attention. Mom stared out the little window. Mark said, “What is it? What is it, mom?” And I said, “Is it the monster?” And mom said: “Tornado.”
144. Julie said, “Mom get in! Get in!” Pushing me, pushing Mark, to make room. “Do you remember,” mom said while she stared out the window, “what we pray every time we get in the car?” It was Julie who said yes. “Before we drive away,” mom said. “Angels are on top of the car, on the sides of the car, all around the car.” And the house, Julie said, could we ask them to be around the house? Mom said so, but we didn’t say the prayer. Mary had settled down into quiet whimpers. Mark moved because he was almost upside down and Mary told him to stop moving. Mark got himself upright, his legs up over the edge. Mom said, staring out the window: “I see it.” Mary screamed. Julie started crying, and then Julie sobbed, “Don’t you want to get in, mom?”
89. I asked mom what the tornado looked like, and she said a dark cloud, a funnel. I asked if I could get up and see it, and she told me no, stay there. I asked what would happen if someone were in the woods right now and the tornado went through the woods? She said angels would protect us wherever we were, to remember that. I believed her. I asked in the creek bed would it be safer than in the woods? Mom said yes, she thought probably so.
55. Mark climbed out of the tub. He must’ve stepped on Julie. She got mad and called him stupid. Mary said hey, what are you doing, Mark? But no one paid her any attention. I stayed where I was because mom had told us to stay there. I thought Mark would get in trouble. He didn’t.
34. The siren wailed again and mom said she didn’t know why it had stopped before. Mark looked out with her, and asked where is it? Mom said she was looking for it now, too.
21. Maybe it was gone. “It’s gone?” Mary said with wide eyes. Julie said she hoped so.
13. I told Mary she’d have to live in the tub a few days.
8. Mary started crying. Mom told me stop it.
5. Mom can we get up?
3. Can we go?
2. To play.
Profile: Christopher Shade