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Ryan jumped at the sound of his four year old daughters voice. He quickly placed the picture he’d been looking at under his pillow and turned to Ivy.
“What’s up honey?”
Ivy’s brown curls sagged and the corners of her mouth turned downward. “Where’s Mommy? I can’t find her, and she promised she would color with me. She promised Daddy!! But..but I can’t find no where!”
With tears in his eyes, and trying to remain cool and collected but knowing it would be a waste of time. He explained, “Ivy, Mommy... His voice broke. “Mommy’s not coming home. Remember when you seen her car? It was all crumpled and broken? That was Jesus’s way of calling her to him. She had to go color with him at his home.”
“Oh, so she’s coming home later? And then she color with me too? When she’s done with Jesus? Right Daddy?!”
Tears were streaming down Ryan’s face now. He knew his baby wouldn’t understand that her mommy past away in that accident. He pulled her onto his lap and went on, “Ivy, honey, Mommy’s never going to leave Jesus’s home. That’s her home now. But she loved you so much. You know that right?”
Little Ivy was very confused now. “But Daddy she promised. Mommy never broke a promise.”
He wiped the tears away from his face. “Baby can I color with you? Will that make you feel better?”
Her eyes were bright again, “Yes!!” She jumped down, grabbed her Dads’ hand and started dragging him out of the room.
Two Years Earlier
“Ken, which one do you think would be better, the light purple, or the dark red for the curtains?”
Tawnie’s best friend looked up from the form she had been trying to decipher. And looked over at the color squares Tawnie held out. “Which curtains?”
“I haven’t decided on any of the curtains yet. Help me out please.” Tawnie answered. Tawnie was extremely stressed out by her upcoming wedding. She didn’t know how to decide on things, or even what she wanted her big day to look like. Kendra had been a great help during the whole process.
Kendra took a moment to think. “The dark red. The color looks great on you, and the church walls’ are all mahogany. It’ll look great.”
“Your right. It will look great in the church. You think red looks good on me?”
“Yeah I do. Hey, have you thought about your dress anymore?” Kendra inquired.
Tawnie looked down at the papers she had been going through, still looking down she replied, “No. I don’t even like dresses, and nothing looks good on me. I’m to fat, I need to lose like 20 pounds before I feel comfortable in a dress again. I gained quite a bit of weight when I got pregnant with Ivy.”
“Tawnie! Your not fat. For just having a baby a couple of months ago, you look great. And you’ve already lost a lot of the baby weight.”
Tawnie took a moment to process what Kendra had just said. She realized her friend was right. Kendra was always good at making her feel better. She thought of her beautiful baby, Ivory Renee. Ivy had just turned two, and Tawnie couldn’t have been more proud. Her fiancee, Ryan spoiled Ivy like no tomorrow. But Tawnie couldn’t yell at him, she was just as bad, when it came to spoiling Ivy. “Alright. Your right Ken. We could go tomorrow to the dress shop in town. You’ll help me right?”
“Of course.” At that moment Kendra’s six year old daughter Kymberly threw open the door and started yelling, “Mommy, I found a salamander! It’s so squishy!”
Tawnie and Kendra made eye contact for a moment. “Mother like daughter!” Tawnie said. And they started laughing.
Kymberly ran in grabbed her mom’s hand and dragged through the door to show her the creature she had stumbled upon.
The last thing Tawnie heard before they were out of hearing range was, “It’s over here Mommy! I’m going to name him squishy!”
Tawnie thought to herself, Wow she is so much like her mom. And chuckled to herself.
Tawnie yawned. It was so early, but Kendra insisted on going early, so they would be beating the “rush” in the dress shop. Over and over again she tried to tell Kendra that there was no rush in a dress shop. Everything was always quiet in a dress shop. But Ken disagreed. So at eight in the morning, they were in her car driving to South Haven, headed to the dress shop.
“I’m happy Chris was home today. Damien and Kymberly would be driving me nuts because they were so bored in the shop. And we need to take our time so we can find a dress that you’ll be comfortable in.” Kendra said, at an attempt to start conversation.
Tawnie took a drink of orange juice that she brought from home. “Chris is back on weekends?”
“Every other weekend. It sucks I miss him, the kids miss him. And I don’t get to see him much because our jobs clash so much.” Kendra worked as a veterinarian, Monday through Friday. From 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Chris on the other hand worked as a principal in the same school Tawnie was second grade teacher in. He worked from, 7:00 to about 4:30. But the time that he got home ranged from 3:00 to about 9:00 depending on the day. And recently had to start going in on the weekends to plan, and go to meetings in Detroit. Which made it very hard for Kendra and Chris to have any time together. And even harder to have family time.
“I bet. I’m so glad Ryan’s not on weekends anymore. Is Chris working this weekend?” Tawnie inquired.
“Nope this is his weekend off. We’ve planned to take to the kids to crazy bounce. Do you guys want to come?”
“It sounds fun. I’m not sure if Ryan was planning on something else though. I’ll ask him. Which day are you guys going?”
Six hours after returning home from the dress shop Tawnie was cleaning up from dinner. “Babe, do you want to go with Ken and them, to Crazy Bounce this Saturday?” Tawnie inquired, studying Ryan to see if he was keeping something from her.Ryan looked up from the paperwork he was doing. Ryan worked as a police man, he always wanted to be one. “Yeah that sounds cool. Ivy will love it. Do you want too?”
Tawnie took a moment to consider, “Yeah, it’ll be fun.”
“Mommy, we’re going to see Auntie Kenken and Uncle Chris right?” Ivy asked, while drawing smiley faces on the foggy car window.
Because Tawnie was busy, Ryan answered, “Yes, sweetie. Your gonna be a really good girl today right? Be nice to Kym and Damien. No hitting, because its not-?” Ryan tested Ivy.
“Nice!” Ivy exclaimed.
“Promise you’ll be good?”
“No.” Ivy giggled and smiled. And returned to her drawings on the window.
Tawnie finished the cleaning and organizing the center console she had been doing and leaned back against the car seat. Lost in thought she watched as trees flew by on a cold dreary day in November. Ryan turned into Chris’s driveway, and said, “I hope today is a good day.”
“I’m sure it will be honey, we always have fun with them.” Tawnie reassured him. Ryan had been really stressed lately because his work was getting very demanding, and difficult.
The three got out of the car and walked up to the door. Inside they heard Damien yelling for his parents and Kym eagerly demanding who was at the door.
“Come on in Tawn!” Kendra yelled from somewhere inside the kitchen. Tawnie, Ryan, and Ivy let themselves in, and Tawnie set Ivy on the floor. And readjusted her shirt.
“I’m going to go find Auntie Kenken.” Tawnie whispered in her daughters ear. And Ivy ran off to play with Kymberly.
Ryan and Tawnie found Damien’s parents in the kitchen. Ryan immediately went to his cousins side and started a conversation about work life. Tawnie paused at the window and fixed the curtain that was bunched up and sitting on a table.
“Tawn do you wanna take the kids to McDonald’s or pack a lunch?” Kendra’s back was turned to Tawnie, she was finishing up the last dish of last nights dinner they had.
“Yeah lets do that. The kids love McDonald’s.” Tawnie answered, still playing with the curtain. It wouldn’t go straight again for some reason. Tawnie watched out the window, the weather wasn’t getting any better. It worried her, she didn’t like to be out on the roads when it was this bad.
“Mom he hit me!” Kymberly burst in the kitchen, she held a stuffed care bear in one hand and a sucker in the other. Waiting patiently for her mother to discipline her brother.
“Kymberly, did he really hit you this time? Or are you just trying to get him in trouble again like you’ve been doing lately?” Kendra let out a sigh, and started drying the dishes she had just finished washing.
“No no, he really did this time Mommy!” Kym stomped her feet and threw her care bear across the room.
“Kymberly Vixen!” Chris yelled at her. “Go get your bear and apologize to your uncle! When your done with that go get Damien and I’ll talk to him and see what he says.”
The pink care bear had flown from Kym’s hand and connected to the left side of Ryan’s face. He held the bear, when Kymberly came to apologize and retrieve the bear.
“I’m awfully sorry Uncle Ry-Ry I didn’t mean to hit you.” Her eyes watched the ground and her little tummy stuck out, because of the slouching position she assumed.
Ryan handed the bear back to the owner. “It’s alright honey. Where’s Ivy?” Ryan inquired, looking out the kitchen door.
“Well go play with them butt head.” Ryan hooked a finger under the girls’ chin and gently lifted her head until she was looking at him.
A smile returned to Kymberly’s little face, “I’m not a butt head Uncle Ry-Ry!” She giggled and ran out of the kitchen. Damien never entered the kitchen after she left.
“Seriously Ryan how do you do that?” Kendra inquired, looking very confused.
“Do what?” Ryan returned the look of confusion.
“Make her happy so soon when something like that happens. I mean I’ve tried, that child is just to stubborn. So I tell her to eat fart.”
Everyone in the room started laughing at that moment. Kendra had said eat fart to everyone for years. But telling it to her six year old daughter was funny. Tawnie had given up on trying to fix the curtain, and had sat down by the table. The weather was still playing with her nerves. She had thought that she seen a funnel cloud on the ride over to the Wood’s house and thought she may have seen another when she was attempting to fix the curtain. She was thinking about this when Ryan interrupted her thoughts.
“Tawn are you okay?” Ryan asked with a worried expression.
Tawnie took a moment to think about whether she should express her thoughts or keep them to herself.
“No I’m not okay this weather is really bothering me. On the ride over here I think I seen a tornado funnel. And just now when I was trying to fix the curtain. We should turn the news on and find out whats going on with the weather.” Tawnie started fondling her sweater. Ryan knew how bad weather freaked her out. But neither said this information.
Chris got up from the bar stool he had been sitting on and looked out the window. “She’s right the weather is starting to look really bad.” He left the room to go turn the television on, Kendra followed him.
Ryan approached Tawnie and put his arm around her. He bent down and whispered in her ear, “If the weather is scaring you to much, we can get Ivy and go home.”
“We’ll see.” Tawnie answered him. But he could tell that she was lying. She wanted to get her baby and leave. But she didn’t wanna hurt Kendra or Chris’s feelings.
Five minutes past and the two returned from the living room. They reported that there was indeed a tornado warning for their area. Luckily Kendra’s house had a full basement, in case it would hit them.
“I’m gonna go grab the kids and bring them in here with us.” Tawnie said, standing up from the chair and letting Ryan’s hand drop from her back. Tawnie left the room with Kendra following closely behind her. They heard Chris and Ryan opening windows and unplugging electronics. The two friends went through the living and down the hallway to the last room at the end of the house. They heard the kids yelling and carrying on.
“Damien that’s my toy!” Kymberly yelled at her brother, trying to grab the toy from him but he held it high over his head so it was out of Kymberly’s reach.
“Knock it off!” Kendra yelled. “Damien give the toy back to your sister, and Kymberly stop yelling right now, your inside. So use your indoor voice.”
The fight was quickly ended and Damien and Kymberly were sent to find their dad. Tawnie crossed the room where Ivy was playing quietly in the corner with two baby dolls she had found.
“Hey honey. Lets go find Daddy, okay?” Tawnie asked her daughter. Ivy nodded her and held up her arms allowing her mom to pick her up. Back in the kitchen everything was opened and unplugged, and Chris was trying to explain to his children what was going on.
Ryan motioned Tawnie over to where he was sitting. He told her in a hushed voice, “It’s coming. Fast.” Tawnie went pale and hugged Ivy closer to her, Ivy rested her head on her mom’s shoulder. Ryan stood and enveloped both in a hug.
“It’ll be alright. We’re going to be fine.” As he finished speaking the lights went out. Kymberly screamed and Damien grabbed his dad’s hand. The noise of a freight train came from the North-East.
Chris picked up his son, and Kendra grabbed Kymberly. Ryan grabbed Tawnie’s hand and they ran down to the basement. The noise become louder, as Chris slammed the basement door shut and locked it. He ran back down to where everyone was crouched, Damien jumped into his dad’s lap. Kym was in Kendra’s wailing almost louder then the noise of the tornado that soon would be right on top of them. Ryan had returned to holding his child and soon to be wife in his arms.
“Its going to be a big tornado, Ryan. At least a F3.” Tawnie expressed her worrys to him. In a hushed tone.
“Babe that’s a really big tornado. Why would you say that?” Ryan asked his eyes wide with disbelief.
“Look at how many things I’ve been right about, Ryan. It’s just a hunch but I know. I know for some reason I’m right.” Tawnie explained.
“Mommy, whats going on?” Ivy had lifted her head, and was watching her parents talk. She was very confused. She didn’t understand why they were in here. And why everyone looked so scared.
Tawnie took a deep breath trying to figure out a way she could explain this to her. Tawnie took to long to tell her so Ivy turned to her Daddy.
“Daddy, why won’t Mommy talk?”
“Shes thinking about things baby. But its just really bad weather, and if we’re in here we’ll be safe.” Ryan explained to the two year old. Ivy gave up and placed her head back on her mom’s chest.
The horrible noise grew to a frighten level. It was coming fast. Kendra and Chris’s beloved house would be destroyed.
“Kendra! Are you guys okay?” Tawnie asked from where they were sitting. They were all sitting close, but with the noise they had to yell to be heard.
“As much as we can be right now!” Kendra answered. Simultaneously when she said that the noise became unbearable. Everyone held their ears. They heard things moving above them. They heard crashing, and glass breaking. They were safe in the basement so far. The noise grew louder and louder, then silence replaced the deafening noise.
“Is...is it gone?” Kymberly asked in a small voice.
Chris got up and looked out of one of the smalls windows that hadn’t been blocked. “I think so.” Chris answered his daughters questioned.
Ryan stood and joined Chris at the window. “Yeah it’s gone.” Ryan confirmed. Everyone stood up and brushed themselves off.
“Is everyone okay?” The kids had stopped crying and now were just confused.
Little voices all answered Ryan. They were fine, but didn’t go far from their parents sides. Kymberly and Damien stayed holding one of their parents hand at all time, and Tawnie hadn’t let go of Ivy since the whole thing started.
Ryan took a deep breath. “Well, I guess lets go see what happened above ground.”
The company all climbed the stairs to the door. Chris quickly unlocked the door, and opened it slowly. It was stuck on a chair. Chris kicked the door in, the house was still standing.
“Oh, thank God!” Kendra exclaimed. Looking very relieved, and Christopher returned the look. Slowly the party started moving about the house, adding up damages. The glass of windows were intact, but the screens to almost all the windows would have to be replaced. Dishes were broken and scattered around the floor, papers, laundry, knick knacks, were strewn over the whole house. But the foundation, and the house still stood. Everything could be repaired, like new.
“Well Tawnie, it looks like we aren’t getting home any time soon.” Ryan had opened the door to see what the outdoors looked like and noticed that their car had been flown from the spot it had been parked and rolled into the ditch by the mailbox. Kendra, and Chris’s cars were yet to be found.
“That sucks. At least we have good coverage on it.” Tawnie said joining Ryan by the door.
Ryan sighed. “ At least the sky’s blue again. So we don’t have to worry about another coming at us.”
He looks so defeated. Tawnie thought. She quietly set Ivy down on the floor. Ivy sat down on the couch and looked around at her surroundings. Kendra and Chris had went to evaluate the damages upstairs and their children had followed closely behind.
“Honey, things will get better. It’s just a car. Look around you, You, Ivy and I are perfectly safe. Chris and Ken and the kids are safe. We don’t know if it hit our house. But those are all material things. We have whats important right here.” Tawnie reassured him.
He took a moment to think over what she said. “Your right. Like usual.” And enveloped her in a hug. She put her head down on his shoulder and took a deep breath. They were still embracing when Kendra returned with her family.
“Everything’s alright. Nothing that can’t be replaced easily. Chris reported. How’s the cars?”
“I don’t know, our car is in the ditch by the road, but both of your guy’s cars are gone.” Tawnie informed him.
“You can’t see them?”
“Nope. Take a look, there gone.” Ryan answered. “Lets take a walk and see what’s happened.” Ryan moved to pick Ivy up from the couch. She had fallen asleep in the short time they were talking. Kymberly and Damien were being unusually quiet.
Tawnie went to her friend and inquired about the kids. “I think their fine, their just confused. And don’t really understand whats going on you know?”
“Yeah I do.”
Ryan came up behind Tawnie and whispered in her ear, “I love you.”
Tawnie turned to face him, his blue eyes were a mix of sad and happy. She kissed him. “I love you too.” They joined hands and followed the rest out of the house.
“Hey Ken! I found my car!” Chris yelled from behind a huge fallen tree. The group went to find him, and discovered him trying to get into his car with no luck. The car was up side down, and the roof so badly crushed that it was practically lying flat on the ground under the frame of the car. Ryan attempted to help him with this tedious project.
“Honey, stop. The car is totaled out there’s no way your going to get in that car until we have somebody break the roof off. Why do you want in there so much? You kept nothing in there except the basics.” After finishing her sentences, she bent down to hold her scared, crying children. Kendra let out a deep sigh, it was plainly written on her face that she was exhausted.
Chris looked at his wife. His brown eyes were filled with disappointment. “I know there wasn’t much in here, but I always kept that picture of you and the kids in there. I loved that picture.” Chris gave up on trying to get into his car. He strode over to his family and scooped up Kymberly. Kymberly wrapped her thin arms around her fathers neck and sobbed loudly. Damien had ceased crying and was standing quietly holding his moms hand tightly.
From his stance next to Tawnie and his daughter, Ryan told everyone, “Guys there will be so many more memories. So many more happy times. We just survived one of natures most dangerous forces and came out with our lives. We have truly been blessed today. And we need to realize that things could have been much worse today. I’m sure for others it did. So we need to be thankful for all we have.”