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Drama Fiction

It was hot, so very hot and muggy. I had my hair in a bun, which I never do, but it was too sticky against my shoulders. There was a faint breeze. I shivered momentarily, even in the oppressive heat. I could feel the hairs on the nape of my neck tingle as I walked down Main Street.  The light breeze was welcome, but it was no relief.

I passed the town square. Petrichor hung in the air, even though it hadn’t rained yet. An omen of things to come. I picked up my pace. The streets were empty. Everyone was hunkered down, or had left town, in anticipation of the impending storm. Only someone new to the area would be foolish enough to be out and about. Not with a Cat 5 looming. What was I thinking?

I reached my car. Safety. As I sat down, the vinyl seat grabbed at me and wouldn’t let go. No air conditioning. I told the guy at the used car lot, I didn’t need any. I was moving close to the beach, where there would be an ocean breeze. So now, skin versus vinyl. Why did I wear the short shorts? I had gotten a good deal on the car, which I needed. My money had to last. I couldn’t afford to use credit. That was traceable. But A/C would have been a plus.

At least the engine started on the second try. Only one wiper worked. It was on the driver’s side, so I was okay. A light drizzle played on the windshield as I headed north. Up the hill and around the cliffs. The drizzle was turning to rain. I could see the churning ocean. Whitecaps were everywhere. The gray clouds were being overrun by blankets of ebony. Streaks of lightening started to cut against the blackness. The faint rumble of thunder began to grow louder.

There wasn’t much time. The road steeped downward towards the beach. Just a few more minutes and I’ll reach the rented bungalow.

Arrival. I pulled in next to the little house. There was no driveway, just sand. I parked as close as I could, avoiding my neighbor’s dog. It was really coming down now. I took my keys out of my bag and held them in my hand. I didn’t want to fumble for them in the rain. I peeled myself off the vinyl seat. Bracing for it, I opened the car door and, with keys in hand, I made a mad dash for the front door. 

Once inside, I slammed the door shut. My body shuddered uncontrollably. I think it was because of the storm, but I couldn’t be sure. Then I heard wailing, like a baby, but not quite. It was Bruno, my neighbor’s dog. It just struck me. What was he doing out in this weather? I remembered. They left town. I saw them packing up two days ago. They left Bruno behind. Just a water dish on the side of their house in case he got thirsty.

I opened the door a crack, and the soggy mop of fur bounded into my living room. It was actually my living, dining, and bedroom. The kitchen was a hotplate and a microwave on a rickety table in one corner of the room. If you believed the advertisements, which I did, this was a two-room cottage, perfect for a quiet beach getaway. Million-dollar views. Unbelievable value for the price. 

Really . . . the second room held the toilet and a sink that dripped constantly. The shower was a mounted hose outside. Oh well, I couldn’t afford to be choosey. I needed something cheap and fast. And far. This fit the bill.

Bruno shook his body, spraying water everywhere. It didn’t matter. I was just as wet as he was. I only had one towel, so I dried myself off, then tried to dry Bruno. He cowered at first, but when he realized I was trying to help him, he wouldn’t stray from my side.

I sat down and pulled out my phone to get the latest weather reports. No service. Or it was too wet to work. Or the battery died.  I couldn’t remember if I had charged it. Useless, I threw it in the trash. Bruno sat down on top of my feet, pleading with me not to move.

I sat for a while. But soon I had to get up. I was antsy. I needed to stretch, to pace. Bruno didn’t like it. The storm was getting worse. I didn’t want to open the door to look outside, but I could hear the wind howling. Through the tiny window over the bed, flashes of light danced across the room. And the thunder. Like a roaring train now. Non-stop. Bruno began shaking again. He hid under the bed. The sound of thunder was worse for him, with his sensitive ears.

The thunder used to scare me as a child. Until my mother told me it was angels bowling. I pictured a big bowling alley in heaven, with tons of angels taking turns rolling a big ball down the lane to knock over huge pins. They were laughing. Nothing to be afraid of.  Just angels. It helped. It cured me of recoiling every time I heard a loud clap of thunder. I wish I could relay that story to Bruno.

Here in my cabin, the thunder, and even the lightning didn’t bother me too much. As long as I felt safe inside. Like I used to. Before I had to come here. I could handle being a little scared. It’s just a storm, I told myself. It was OK. What got to me the most was the wind. I despised the wind. I didn’t remember how strong the winds were in a Category 5 hurricane, but I knew they could be deadly. 

Water started coming in, under the doorway at first. I put my towel against the floor to slow the flow. It helped for a few minutes, but soon the water was ubiquitous. We were standing in puddles three inches deep and counting. I had to think fast. I fashioned my bathrobe belt into a leash to hook around Bruno’s collar. I didn’t want to get separated if things got any nastier. I created a make-shift seatbelt out of some clothes and tied it to the bedframe. I climbed up, Bruno in my arms, and secured us to the frame as best as I could.

This little shack wouldn’t stand a chance if the Cat 5 was a direct hit. I didn’t have many belongings, and nothing worth saving. Just me. . .and now Bruno. I was becoming very fond of the little mop. I felt responsible for him. He had been abandoned. I know how that feels. He and I were in this together.  We clung to each other on the bed as the water rose.

I lay on my back, holding Bruno tightly at my side. He buried his head in my armpit. I could feel him shaking . . . or maybe that was me. Probably both. The sound was deafening. I couldn’t say anything to comfort him. He wouldn’t be able to hear me. I closed my eyes and prayed. Something I hadn’t done in years. I prayed that God would hear me above the din. 

The roof blew off the house. That’s when I opened my eyes. I was being pelted by the rain. It stung, but I couldn’t close them again. I had to see. The sky was black and angry. Objects were being tossed about just overhead. I saw my car fly by. Picked up and thrown around like a Match Box toy. Good riddance. I don’t know where it landed and didn’t care. 

The walls shook. But they held. And the bed. Bolted to the floor. I hadn’t noticed that before. My landlord was probably afraid someone would steal it. My body was rigid with fear. For hours.  My breath was shallow and fast, and my heart pounded against my chest.  I’m not sure when the day turned into night, but it eventually did. Even a storm can’t stop time.

At some point, I must have fallen asleep. I don’t remember. It was still raining, wind howling, but my body was exhausted. It took over. Unconscious, the storm loosened its grip on my mind. Sleep was bliss. 

My world started again when Bruno woke me. He was licking my face. It took me half a second to realize why. I opened my eyes and saw blue skies. We had made it. We survived. I hugged Bruno and undid our safety belt. Bruno barked and bounded off the bed. I tried to stand, but my legs were shaking. I gripped the side of the bed to steady myself. I looked upward to the sky and said “Thank you.”

I slowly walked over to the door and opened it. No roof, but the door was still hinged to the rickety walls. Go figure. Outside, I could see the ocean, still churning. There was a new high-tide mark drawn in the sand. But the ocean never reached my bungalow. Lucky. That would have been catastrophic. 

I took a breath of the fresh air and looked back inside the cabin. I could see nothing I wanted to keep. I untied Bruno. He could choose his own path. Still soaking wet, I started the long walk into town. Bruno followed me.

We walked along the road for several hours, stopping a few times to rest. Finally, we saw a couple of first responders heading our way. They were amazed to see us. Didn’t think anyone rode out the storm our way. They didn’t say foolish, but I guess they could have. One guy gave me a blanket, which I shared with Bruno as they drove us into town. 

The library was providing food and temporary shelter for any one in need. We were. In need. I didn’t see any other shelter-seekers there yet. A lady at the library gave me some clothes and new sandals. They almost fit. I was grateful. We stayed two nights.

We needed a plan. I still had my Amex card. The one I swore not to use. Things had changed, though. I walked to bus station and bought a ticket for home. That had changed, too. I was going home. The place I had escaped from just a short time ago. The ticket agent said I could take Bruno with me. But the bus wasn’t scheduled to leave for several hours.

Walking back to the library, a car stopped. Bruno’s owner. He came to check on his house now that the storm had passed. He saw Bruno. He called out of the open window to the dog, and then to me. I think he wanted to thank me for caring for his pet. Bruno hid behind my legs. So the man got out. He neared and Bruno snarled. The man hesitated. Then he turned back to his car and left. Good. Bruno and I were a team now. Inseparable.

After thanking the helpers at the library, Bruno and I made our way back to the bus station. The bus had arrived, so we got a seat by the window. I wasn’t even nervous about going home. I was completely calm, serene even. I felt invincible with Bruno at my side. 

I knew I could face anything now-even him. I wasn’t alone anymore. I had Bruno. And we both had a very special angel up there watching over us. An angel who knows about thunder.  She’ll be bowling with the rest of them, come another storm. I’m sure of it.

March 03, 2024 14:23

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8 comments

LeeAnn Hively
04:04 Mar 12, 2024

Thank you for not letting Bruno die. I worry when a dog is involved. I actually read in a hurry to make sure, then I went back and took my time. This was a fantastic read. Thank you :)

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Linda Kenah
18:07 Mar 12, 2024

Thank you, LeeAnn. I'm so glad you like it! I love dogs, too!

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Wally Schmidt
00:35 Mar 12, 2024

You MC faces a personal storm, as well as. a literal one. But she finds the strength and resilience she never knew she possessed, spurred on by Bruno her worthy companion. This is heartwarming

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Linda Kenah
00:53 Mar 12, 2024

Thank you, Wally!

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Alexis Araneta
15:58 Mar 11, 2024

Adorable !!

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Linda Kenah
23:31 Mar 11, 2024

Thank you so much!!

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Trudy Jas
01:27 Mar 10, 2024

Any story with a dog, is a good story.

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Linda Kenah
01:31 Mar 10, 2024

Thank you! I agree, I love dogs!

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