I tentatively stepped out the door. My hair whipped around my face threatening to choke me as I grabbed the doorframe to keep my balance. Making my way across the porch and down the steps, I ducked as a plastic chair blew by. Straining with each step, I made my way across the yard, pushing against an invisible opponent. I managed to get to the cellar door and with all my might pulled it open. I had just made it safely inside when the door slammed shut above me. The lights inside the cellar flickered crazily, making me eerily think of a disco. I looked over at the supplies. Thankfully, there was plenty of water and some canned foods. 

I heard a sound, like a faint scratching and realized it was coming from the door. Pushing hard I managed to lift it up and open just a crack. A wet nose protruded through, sniffing the air wildly, almost slamming into my eye. I pushed harder and Boxly, my golden retriever managed to squeeze through, his body already close to the ground in an army crawl. I let the door slam back shut. 

Brushing the residual dirt out of my hair from the door slamming above me, I made my way to the far corner, sitting with my back against the wall. Boxly, still whimpering crawled his enormous self up on my lap. I scooted my legs around to allow enough lap for him to sit comfortably. 

“It’s going to be ok, boy.” I said soothingly as I stroked his head. He turned to lick my face. His body trembled underneath my hand. Poor little guy.  

The roar outside began to turn into a high pitched whistle and I hugged the dog closer to me. I could hear things crashing into each other, the door bouncing up and down as things crashed into it as well. 

I would have to go get some more clothes I guess, knowing the ones on the clothesline were gone. Of course I would pick today to catch up on laundry. 

I thought of the neighbors, thankfully gone on vacation. They had just bought their kids a new trampoline. I prayed that Ethel, a mile and half down the lane had gotten into her cellar. Knowing she was getting older and a bit slower, she had installed an entrance to her cellar from inside her home, basically turning it into a basement instead. Once this was over I would have to go straight there and check on her. 

After what seemed like an eternity, the noise subsided, the calm returned. I waited several more  minutes to make sure it was truly gone and exited slowly. 

Relief flooded through me as I saw the house was still there, only a few shingles and a shutter were missing. Thank God! The debris in the yard was a scattering of random objects. The Johnsons mailbox, from the next road over, lay at the foot of the porch stairs, a tricycle from somewhere was out by the end of the drive, random strangers clothing tossed about. My clothes were definitely gone from the line, my favorite nightgown stuck high in one of the trees. A few large limbs lay awkwardly displaced in the backyard, come completely down, some split but still hanging on. 

I climbed in my truck, whistling for Boxly to jump in as I did and headed to see about Ethel. 

When I pulled up she was just coming out on her porch, looking completely unharmed. 

“Ethel, are you okay?” I called out to her as I jumped out. Boxly decided to join me and jumped out of the passenger window. 

“Oh yes, sweetie. I am just fine! Glad I had that cellar door installed in my kitchen though. Praise the Lord all is ok!” 

“I’m glad you got that installed as well! Let me take a look around the house and make sure all is safe. Do you have food and water?”

“I sure do. You know me. I can everything I grow so I’m good.” 

I smiled because I knew she spoke the truth. Mrs. Ethel could survive an apocalypse very comfortably. She grew her food, canned it, made her own dresses and quilts and even curtains by hand. She knew every life hack when it came to cleaning something or making something out of nothing. Everything she planted grew as if she were the sun itself feeding them life.

A quick scan of the house showed me that all was safe. She was also missing a few shingles and had a tree that had fallen at the back of the property. A few of her smaller apple trees were uprooted at the side of the house. The Crowder boys would be down in no time to take care of those for her. I’m sure she had a home baked pie from yesterday still in the house that they would love to take off her hands for her. The woman could cook for sure!

After updating her on the property and checking her water supply just in case, she tucked a jar of homemade vegetable soup into my hand. I gave her a big hug, promising to check on her later. Boxly and I headed out to check on the rest of our neighbors. 

This had been a close one. It came quickly but it looked like it hadn’t been very strong. As I drove passed neighbors, they all seemed in good standing, just cleaning up debris. I passed the Franklin’s place and the Crowder boys were already hard at work, moving a large limb that had landed on the roof. It didn’t look like much damage but it would take a few days to get that fixed. Mrs. Franklin waved a hand from the porch followed by a smile to let me know they were all ok. I honked the horn and waived back. The Crowder boys waved from their spot on the roof too. 

I circled back around by the gas station noticing the roof over the pumps was twisted but all the windows remained. Marcus and Billy were dragging some of the debris away from the parking lot and Marcus’ wife, Betty was sweeping off the concrete by the door. Old man Jefferson was still open for business. He sent a wave in my direction as I drove by. Again I honked the horn and waved back. 

It had been a scary day but we were all going to be fine. We were all alive and we had each other. That was all we needed.

September 16, 2020 15:09

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Saige Severin
18:59 Sep 21, 2020

I loved the sense of community in this story! The way the narrator checked on her neighbors and knew all their names added a level of depth that's hard to achieve in such a short format. Great work!


Kristy Reynolds
21:01 Sep 22, 2020

I have never lived in a super small town or a rural area like that but I have lots of friends who have and the experience was very similar. Everyone cared and looked out for each other and I tried to draw from that as much as possible. Thank you for your comment! :)


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