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An undisturbed silence. A calm stillness. The grey ceiling closes in, rather slowly at first. The air is chilling as we wait. Wait for a sign, wait for a signal. Just, wait.
The trees are the first to feel it. Clang. They hit the side of the house. The air picks up. The leaves come flying off, and start spiraling on their own. The clouds move with such intensity that if you were to blink, a new set of them would be above you.
And then we hear it. We hear the sirens. See the flashing lights in the distance. Dad stays looking out the back door whilst Mom rushes down the stairs with Ben in her arms and Crissy following close behind.
I tug on Dad’s shirt. He motions for the towel sitting on the chair. The rain starts just as he stuffs it into the bottom of the door. I tug on his shirt again. He motions for me to go down stairs with my siblings and mother.
I want to wait with him. He carries me down the stairs, and then goes back to the back door.
Ring, ring!!!! Seek immediate shelter. This is a tornado warning. Seek shelter. I hear Dad scoff upstairs. Of course; tornados never actually make it here.
Ben starts wailing, his cries surprisingly drown out the sound of trees hitting the side of the house. Mom calls for Dad. Crissy calls for Dad. I call for Dad.
But he stays put.
The sky outside lightens. But instead of the light blue that is usual for a mid-afternoon, July day, it is green. Murky, disgusting, terrifying green.
Crissy perches at the top of the stairs, begging Dad to come downstairs. Ignoring her, he stands and watched. As always.
Her eyes grow twice in size when she sees it. Her screams drown out Ben’s.
She makes it into Mom’s arms just as we hear it.
We hear everything we own, everything we love, get destroyed. We hear Dad make a run for it. But he gets caught in the wind.
It takes 6 hours for the fire department to clear the rubble that encases us. Mom, trying to remain calm, lets out a single sob every now and then. Crissy clings to me and calls out for Daddy ; my shirt is completely soaked through.
The tornado only hit one side of our street; but of course it was our side.
Ben is the only peaceful one, asleep in the neighbours’ old crib. How nice it must be to be so young.
Now, all we can do is wait. Wait for our house to be rebuilt, wait for news of his body to come in. Wait.
The undisturbed silence. The calm stillness. It was over.