The Hurricane

January 3, 2008
By Jane Brendlinger, Swarthmore, PA

With giddy screams I ran into the torrents of water gushing from the sky. My classmates splashed and shouted behind me, equally ecstatic at the good fortune of bad weather. With a downpour to play in, we were out early from school. The grumbling thunder provoked our frightened shrieks, charging the air with excitement.

I saw my best friend Eva. Her hair, usually wound into tight curls, lay limp and sopping down her round cheeks. She smiled, and her eyes blinked back tiny streams.

“Come on, Eva! The underpass is overflowing!” I grabbed her arm and we raced along the pulsing rivers in the roads. Each brook led to the small passage under the railroad tracks, a dingy underground alley. We gasped when we saw it. Rain cascaded down the stairs in sheets, and the walkway was submerged by six feet of water. Like rotting suns, the dying orange lights were spotted with black, flickering halfheartedly on the ceiling.

“It’s just like that scene from Titanic,” I said. “When the ship is sinking and the halls are completely flooded.” Eva nodded in solemn agreement even though she had never seen the movie.

Just then two neighborhood boys flew past, tugging at their drenched T-shirts. Eva and I giggled when they jumped into the Underpass Channel; we broke into hysterics while they did laps in the rising canal. They called for us to join them, but we shook our heads. The murky grey water looked wild and menacing; I briefly imagined drowning in it, hands grasping for the surface while I screamed a trail of bubbles.

Inspired by my thoughts of the Titanic, Eva and I jumped through the lakes and ponds to my house down the street. My mother shrieked about her ruined carpet as I slid into the kitchen, but I took no notice and grabbed the aluminum foil. I brought the roll outside, and we quickly made ourselves tiny boats. Mine was a canoe, hand carved by the Native Americans, while Eva’s was a Viking ship, accustomed to the stormy weather of the North Atlantic. On the count of three we released our vessels into the surge, egging them on as one coursed ahead of the other. We raced after them through the swirls of mud by the curb. The flimsy silver metal was tossed helplessly by the deluge pounding upon it. Eva cheered as my canoe finally sunk out of sight and hers sped onwards. As worthy opponents, we shook hands and promised to see each other the next day.

At home, I peeled off my dripping shirt and pulled at my clinging jeans. The hot jet of the shower fell on my back, and I drank in the soft scent of soap as I scrubbed off the mud. A fluffy white towel felt wonderful against my skin. Dressed in clean pajamas, I celebrated this feeling of dry. I sipped a cup of hot cocoa at the counter, listening to the droplets slap against the tin roof.
Then the door opened, letting in my sodden father. Tiny rivulets ran from the ends of his hair down his face, which seemed more haggard and worn than usual. His forehead drooped with wrinkles, and his green eyes were dull above his sagging cheeks. Without a word he walked upstairs. I sat there wondering what was wrong while hot chocolate trickled down my throat. Then my brothers came into the kitchen and interrupted my thoughts; I told them of the boys swimming in the underpass and they talked about the width of the creek in the backyard.
The incessant rain had lessened to a constant murmur now. Tomorrow our mother would tell us quietly not to disturb our father. The flood had destroyed all of the equipment in his recycling plant and his business was destroyed. Yet tonight, we were joyful, swimming happily in our dreams, sailing on ships over a world covered in water.

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