Are You Okay?

by | Jun 24, 2023 | Writing the Weather

Are You Okay?

The next day, when they pull the plywood that was your house’s siding off the bathtub where you’d taken cover, you see your husband’s lips move but can’t make out his words. It’s high noon the sun a spotlight on Garth’s shoulder. Where was he last night? When you blink, you see an antique wire birdcage bouncing through the yard like a tumbleweed. The birdcage collides with the mailbox and yo-yoes high into the air before falling to the ground again and bumbling out of view. You open your eyes, and you see sweat channeling the creases of Garth’s face. Why weren’t you here? You blink and see the funnel cloud, a long skinny crooked finger, descending from the sky, a missile zig-zagging for its target. You hear static like a radio searching for home. You taste dust that’s penetrated the seams in the closed windows. You open your eyes, and, now, a firefighter or paramedic is saying something to you. Your eyes close and this time you see a second finger, a second probe. God, how could you miss this? You smell earth, a whiff of fresh cut grass followed by the heavier scent of raw uncovered soil when Garth runs the tiller through the cornfields in fall. The probes are gone now, engulfed by a circle of dirty clouds, spinning horizontally, and you think of the Round-Up, the ride you’d dragged Garth on when you went to the state fair on your first date, how the centrifugal forces blew your long hair straight into the sky, how your smile widened, cheeks flapping, and how Garth later threw up the fried Twinkie and corn dogs you’d eaten. How you never missed a state fair again, how you always rode the Round-Up. You feel a shock reverberate through your chest, a whoosh of air, and open your eyes, Garth hovering over the paramedic’s shoulder. “Are you okay?” he asks. “Are you okay?”
And you know you will never be okay.

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