Hues of the Sky This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     The heat of the day and warmth of the night were basically all we knew. It never drizzled in Texas; any light rain dried up before it could fall. The only rain powerful enough to reach the ground came as a dark mammoth of a storm, shaking the ground with large cracks of thunder accompanied by lightning you could see for miles. The parched earth was unable to soak up the water fast enough, so it flooded the streets. Occasionally hail fell and pinged against our windows. We got into the habit of keeping our garage impeccable so the cars could be pulled in at a moment’s notice. To leave anything outside was to destroy it.

The most amazing part of these gales was the suddenness with which they came and went. There might be a single cloud on the horizon, gray and massive, and five minutes later there would be a multitude, as if the one cloud had gathered allies.

Next the rain would come, sudden and heavy, and we’d rush inside like scattering ants after their hill had been disturbed. Rarely did the downpour last more than 30 minutes. It astonished me how quickly these giants could pour away their body and soul on their kamikaze missions, so desperate to cause us damage that they destroyed themselves.

When it was over we were left with dirty pools, a flooded creek and some minor wreckage that was easily cleared away. I used to love to sit at my window and watch the thunderstorms come and go - the pastel colors of the sky disappearing as it gathered strength, and breaking through as it weakened. It was something you couldn’t see anywhere else, and even the best of movies didn’t get right.

Unfortunately, the storms weren’t always some beautiful spectacle you could watch safely from your house. Strong, pulling winds also had the ability to gather a storm and rip through the ground, carrying dirt and grass into the sky to color the clouds brown and green. This sickening hue let us know what was coming. A frightened whisper played across our lips as we hurried inside to what little shelter our homes offered. Tornado.

It would come, wild and terrible, tearing through our cities and towns as it traveled along a predetermined path. Only a handful of times did it approach my house, but even if it hit far-off Dallas and shattered a few windows, we were frightened because we knew what could happen next time. The most vivid memory I have of Texas is of one of those hideous times the tornado did draw near our home.

The frightening sound of a horn blasting every few seconds played on the radio and television as I desperately dragged some thick blankets into the bathroom under our stairs, the only protection we had. The newer houses had not been built with basements, probably due to the danger of storm runoff and the too-soft soil, so each family had to search for a corner in their home they could crawl to when the monster drew near. Whenever we heard the tornado siren, we dragged out comforters to lay under to avoid getting cut by flying glass whipped by the wind. As the sky darkened, the horn reminded us what we were in for and we all huddled in our corners, hoping it would soon be over.

The reporter on the Weather Channel informed us that the storm wasn’t serious most of the time, but my brother and I gathered the blankets and stayed near the bathroom, just in case. My mother would assure us that we didn’t need to stay there when the storm was miles away, but when she came under the blankets, too, we knew it was bad. Even if we never saw the tornado, we were almost always hit by the great rainstorm that it dragged after it like a cape. Unlike the usual rainstorms that formed on their own, these powerful forces beat down on us with an intensity of hate that, half the time, was created by our own terror and imaginations.

Never was my family injured, and our house only received a bit of damage here and there. Still, I would have nightmares for days afterwards about getting blown apart by a tornado with devil horns and an evil laugh. Now that we live in Massachusetts and don’t get the majestic pastel storms, I miss them. They are such amazing works of nature, and it was wonderful to be able to watch them safely inside. But I don’t miss the tornadoes.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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