The Storm

For the Indie Ink Challenge this week I was challenged by Transplanted Thoughts and I challenged Ixy.

She woke with a start. The air was stifling and the night still heavy with black dark. She kicked off the light sheet and lay staring into the dark. The dream was intangible now but left her feeling disturbed and struggling to remember it, all she had was a sense of swirling. Her heart pounded, whatever the dream was maybe it was best left forgotten. She wondered if it was about Mark and tried to force the worry away.

Morning dawned bright. The sun streaming in through the blinds forced her out of bed. How could you lie in bed with all that energy bursting its way inside, brightening every corner of the room? It screamed for action. As she made her way downstairs the silence of the house settled over her in a rare peaceful calm. Neither of the kids were awake yet still in their summer slumber. Plus they were both avoiding the impending back-to-school shopping planned over the next few days. She put the coffee on and perched on a stool flipping through a magazine while she waited. She dog-eared an article in Real Simple about de-cluttering she decided she would try on one of her days off when the kids were back at school. The place could do with a clean out. She dog-eared an interesting article about rearranging the living room and a couple of recipes to try out. Mark was due back from deployment in October and she wanted the place to look good. The dream she had last night edged back in to her mind and she made a mental note to check her email before they left the house in case he’d been in touch.
Andy appeared sleepy-eyed and grumpy. He put his chin on his palm as he slouched onto the kitchen island and looked at her.
‘Morning.’ She tried cheerily.
‘Uh,’ he grunted at her before opening the fridge door and gulping oj from the container.
‘Get a glass.’
‘I wanted to go out with Billy and Joey today not stupid shopping.’ He let the fridge door drop heavily.
‘We won’t be long and you need to get your school stuff started now. I want to know of any last minute bits and pieces you’ll need by Sunday at the latest so we can finish it off then.’
‘Fine.’ He mumbled and disappeared back upstairs. Ahhh, fifteen going on fifty, just what she needed around the house – a grumpy, old teenager.
Sam was next to appear in the kitchen, ‘I’m going to check on Thunder then I’ll be back. When are we going shopping?’
‘Ten-ish. I need to see if your father has emailed us, take a shower then I’ll be ready.’
‘He’s fine, Mom.’ Sam smiled, the sympathy reaching her eyes.
‘I know.’ Amy smiled back. ‘Go check on that horse then be ready to go.’
Sam grabbed an apple from the fruit bowel, pulled her boots on and disappeared all in one seemingly graceful movement.

*

‘I’m in the front.’ Andy stood his ground in front of the passenger side door.
‘Whatever.’ Sam grouched back at him.
‘Andy in the front going, Sam in the front on the way back.’ Amy ordered.
Andy turned the radio on and flipped endlessly through the limited channels.
‘Pick one and stick to it.’ Amy said.
‘When are you getting the cd player fixed?’
‘I don’t know, the next time it’s in for a service. Maybe your father will have some time when he’s back.’
‘Did you hear from him?’ Sam asked from the backseat.
‘No.’
‘He’s supposed to call on Sunday. Has something changed?’ Andy looked at her, worry instinctively etched on his face.
‘No. I just thought I’d check.’ She glanced at him, knowing any change from the routine of hearing or not hearing from Mark agitated Andy. He was sensitive about Mark and in that respect he still seemed like their little boy.
The news came on and the car fell silent. They were always hyper-vigilant when any news came on as if they would miss any news of Afghanistan and Mark if they weren’t listening intently. The news was all about Hurricane Irene heading toward the east coast.
‘Gram and Gramps lucked out with that one.’ Sam commented.
Amy’s parents were in Florida and thankfully for them Irene was due to avoid them but hit further up the coast.
‘Why don’t we ever get a hurricane?’ Andy wondered aloud.
‘We’re too far inland.’ Amy headed into the parking lot of Wal-mart and cut the engine, ‘So, school stuff, let’s go.’
‘Be quick.’ Andy glared at Sam.
She made a face at him as they all headed inside away from the heat beating down on the parking lot making the tar feel soft underfoot. Amy grabbed a cart and sighed at the air-conditioned cool of indoors.

*

‘They think it’s coming our way.’ Sam appeared in Amy’s bedroom door on Saturday morning as she was gathering the laundry together. ‘New York City is supposed to get hit bad then track this way.’
‘Make a list of food you might want over the next couple of days then. I’ll do some grocery shopping. I’m sure it’ll come to nothing.’ Amy picked up the laundry basket and made her way downstairs. The sun was shining brightly outside, belying the fact any stormy weather was on the way.
Andy appeared in the doorway soaking wet, smiling.
‘What have you been up to?’ Amy gave him an irritated look as water spread all over the kitchen floor.
‘Joey pushed me in the river. Feels good, it’s hot out already.’
Amy threw a towel to him, ‘Dry off and get changed. Make a list of any food you want at the grocery store. Sam heard the storm might come this way. I’ll stock up on some stuff just in case it’s too nasty to go out.’

*

‘Mom, I’m worried about Thunder. New York City is waiting for the storm to hit then it’s headed our way.’ Sam sat on the edge of the bed.
Amy sat up in bed and glanced at the clock: 6.45am. She yawned and wiped the sleep from her eyes. ‘I’ll call Mr Morley on top of the hill and ask if you can stable him there for a couple of days.’ Amy held Sam’s face and kissed her on top of the head, ‘You’ll have to ride him up there and get him settled. I’ll pick you up when you’re ready. I’m sure everything will be fine.’
‘Why aren’t you worried?’ Sam gave her a baffled, slightly irritated look.
‘Because it’ll pass to the south of us or blow out before it gets here. Either way, it’ll be windy and we’ll get some rain then bright and early Tuesday morning you’ll be back at school.’
‘Gee, thanks, Mom.’ Sam stood and headed for the door.
‘Go make the coffee. I’ll take a shower then call Mr Morley in a little while.’

*

They ran inside from the car as rain poured down. It hit them like a wall as it blew sideways with a gust of wind.
‘Yuck!’ Sam cried as they seemed to barrel through the front door.
Amy forced it shut and exhaled. Rain on her face and lips spattered on the door. ‘Andy!’ she called out.
He appeared looking anxious.
‘Stay in the kitchen. I’m a little worried about the trees outside the living room.’
They tried to busy themselves with doing things in the kitchen; Amy reading a magazine, Andy on his DS and Sam on her laptop. Everyone was silently waiting for the power to go out or a tree to be blown over. The wind gusted hard against the house and sent branches crashing down across the road making them jump. Rain seemed to pour from the sky like it was being dumped out of a bucket. Amy kept an eye on the front yard from where she was sitting. She could see the dirt drive turn in to mud with craters full of water.
Time crept on as the storm seemed to linger. Amy made snacks for an early dinner.
The sound of the phone ringing made her jump.
‘Mrs Nash? Mr Morley.’
‘Oh, hi.’ Oh, shit, had something happened to Thunder?
‘I got a view of the river from and it’s swelling fast. You might want to think about heading out of town while the roads are still passable.’
‘Oh,’ she turned instinctively and looked across the road. The river was just beyond the trees and down a three foot ravine. They would be okay. It couldn’t swell that high, could it? The floods back in May had nearly reached the top of the ravine. ‘Thanks. Are you and Martha?’
‘We’re far enough away and are looking after the animals. We got a few sheep loose with the wind blowing some of the fence down so are trying to get them back. Just thought I’d warn a few people down that way.’
‘Thank you.’ Amy hung up and looked at the expectant faces of her kids. ‘Mr Morley said the river is swelling fast and maybe we should leave.’
‘We’ll be fine.’ Andy said dismissively. ‘He said we should leave back in May and it didn’t even reach the road.’
‘When the rain lets up we’ll go have a look.’ Amy looked back out across the road as if she would see the river rising up.

*

The sky started to darken in to dusk and the rain still fell. Andy was clamouring to go out and have a look at the river but Amy refused. ‘You can have a look tomorrow morning. The river will still be high.’
stomped off upstairs. She let him go. The worst of the wind seemed to be over and the rain was easing from a wall of rain to just a regular downpour. They could all do with a break from each other.
She stood in the dining room folding clothes when she heard a muted ‘clunk clunk’ noise. It came again and Amy turned her head to the cellar door. She opened it and flicked on the light looking into the darkness. The lights didn’t come on. Movement caught her eye but much closer than she expected, not on the floor but mid-air two tin cans were bumping against a post.
‘Shit!’ Her mind reeled as she slammed the door realizing the cans were floating on water.
‘Mom!’ Andy’s voice sounded alarmed from upstairs, ‘Mom!’
She ran upstairs as he headed down toward her.
‘Quick!’ he disappeared back upstairs to his room.
Amy hurried in to his room and looked out the window where he was standing.
Water rushed over the road toward the house. It swirled and forced up white caps from the disturbance it left in its wake. Her heart jumped and throat clenched as they watched a clump of trees from the roadside disappear back down the ravine opening a gap for more water to rush toward them.
‘Sam!’ Amy shouted downstairs. ‘Get up here now!’
‘Wha…’ Sam’s voice sounded small downstairs, then, ‘Mom! The road!’
‘I know. Get up here now!’
Sam’s feet pounded up the stairs and she burst in to Andy’s room. They mutely looked at each other then out to the front yard where water was rushing up to the porch.
‘What are we going to do?’ Sam cried.
‘We’re going to stay calm and stay upstairs. Someone will know what is going on and they’ll come get us.’ Amy hoped she sounded calmer than she felt. Inside her brain was screaming at her, ‘Why didn’t you leave when Mr Morley called? How much higher can this fucking river rise if it’s already in the house?’
lights flickered then went out. Silence filled the space where Andy’s music had been. With no power the sound of rushing water could be heard from downstairs.
‘Oh, god!’ Sam shrieked.
Amy looked to Andy. His eyes were round saucers visible even in the dark of the early evening. ‘I want you to help me drag your dresser in to the bathroom. The two of you empty the drawers. I’ll be back.’
‘Where are you going?’
‘Just in to my bedroom.’ She hurried down the hall to the top of the stairs. Water was flowing rapidly up the stairs. ‘Okay,’ she thought to herself, ‘You were stupid enough not to heed Mr Morley’s warning. Listen to yourself now and get onto the roof.’
The dresser was ready to move when she went back to Andy’s room. She grabbed one end, ‘Okay, let’s get this into the bathroom. We can climb up and out the sky light onto the roof.’
Andy climbed onto the dresser first and pushed open the skylight. Amy watched him carefully slide through on to the roof. He sat down next to the skylight and knocked on the glass, ‘Okay.’
Sam slid through followed by Amy.
She gripped the roof and looked back through the skylight as water rushed through the upstairs hallway filling every room. That’s when it hit her, ‘I saw your face in a dream, three days before I met you. The swirling storm of Irene.’

*

The prompt was ‘I saw your face in a dream. 3 days before I met you.’ A bunch of characters came knocking wanting in on this prompt. My home state is VT and since the north east is going through it at the moment this story wouldn’t go away for me. I haven’t really done justice to the the devastation and sadness at the sheer level of destruction that occurred in such a short space of time and the aftermath.

I saw a retweet from Supermaren last week and here is the link to the library New York that suffered damage. There is also I Am Vermont Strong who are donating profits of their t-shirt for sale to the Vermont Food Bank.

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5 Responses to The Storm

  1. This was incredibly chilling, but extremely well written.

  2. billy flynn says:

    Good post Liz. I really enjoyed the swirl of thoughts, and the small and steady emotional triumphs that Amy won over herself.

  3. Chantal says:

    Wow Liz, while reading this images of news footage kept popping into my head of roof top rescues and mass devastation. Chilling indeed.

  4. lizculver says:

    Thanks for your positive comments! I was unsure about this piece due to the length of it. I could have used the prompt at the start and then told the story but I wanted the 3 days leading up to the storm to give a glimpse of their life and how sometimes we worry about other things or people and miss what’s headed our way.

  5. amanda says:

    I love this. Especially how the story unfolds from the moment she wakes up in the morning and everything unravels from there. Nice writing.

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