When clothes started falling from the sky I thought the wind blew them off somebody’s line, but when a car battery hit the porch I knew it was another damn tornado comin’.
“Are we gonna die, Mommy?” said Suzanne as a naked Barbie landed butt-up in a tomato plant. It was hot as hell and the screen door was banging in the wind and Jerry was nowhere to be seen. He’d been gone two days celebrating Steve’s wedding. Twila called me yesterday to say the guys thought it would be a real hoot to cut the nuts off a bull at the bachelor party, then fry up that poor animal’s cojones and present them to the bride at the reception.
Chunks of furniture and a washing machine landed on the ground and I figured the tornado hit town about fifteen miles away. That meant lots more crap to clean up and probably most of it I didn’t need. Insulation was always the worst — little bits of pink fuzzy stuff that fell like snow and stuck to everything.
“Are we gonna die?” said Suzanne, and I said, “Hell no, honey, we’ll become constellations and live forever.” Just then the phone rang and it was some sweet broad askin’ for Jerry. I told her he turned gay and went to San Francisco.
By then fish were splattering on the ground, great big catfish from Mel’s hatchery still floppin’ around like they didn’t know they were dead meat and might as well give up. Fish look so goofy when they’re dying, with their bodies heaving and big mouths sucking like they’re trying to kiss, like they wonder where in blazes they are now when just a moment ago they were gliding through cool water with their eyes on some bug to eat.
“Are they gonna die, Mom?” said Suzanne, and I told her they’d be reborn. Then the sky turned gray and I could see the tornado comin’ fast. All my life I’ve lived in this godforsaken state and never got this close to one. Mostly they just dump crap on you, then veer off in another direction or lift back up into the clouds. This one was fat all the way to the ground, like a giant trash barrel zooming straight at us, spitting out chewed-up houses, barns, trees and such like a blender without a lid.
Roaring like a demon it tore up the highway and demolished telephone poles, sucked up water from the pond, all the while throwing bits of people’s lives at our feet. That’s when I saw the angel. Now you’re gonna say, “Oh sure, this woman thinks she sees angels.” Well, I bet you never saw a tornado either. Anyway, she was sitting on top of the tornado waving with one hand and holding the other up like the pope does when he blesses the masses.
“Is that a witch?” said Suzanne, and I told her it all depends on your definition.
Now, you’re gonna ask if the tornado hit us and I can’t really say for sure, but the next thing you know we were plopped on our behinds feelin’ kinda dizzy watching it spin away and disappear in the distance. You coulda heard a pin drop and our old house was gone and the world looked totally different, like we were on another planet or something. It was just me, Suzanne and piles of junk as far as the eye could see.
Some of the junk appeared to be pieces of people, a hand here, a leg there, an ear, an arm, even a torso with a belt and a big brass buckle. I wondered if they were pieces of people I knew, so I commenced putting them together. And lo and behold, wouldn’t you know it, the angel had brought Jerry back to us. He was missing a few parts — I expect they were in somebody else’s yard — but you’ve gotta work with what you’ve got. He lay on the ground bitchin’ and moanin’ without even a thank you to me for reassembling him, so I decided to just leave him be. I’d propped him up way too many times over the years.
“Are we gonna die, Mom?” said Suzanne, and I said, “No sweetie, we’re gonna live.” Suzanne and I started gathering up things and building a new house. We made walls out of glass and filled the inside with things that sparkled when the sun shone through. We found a flute and started making music. We cooked up catfish for supper and sat on piles of insulation covered with clothes. But best of all was a telescope. It was a little battered and we had to attach some pipes for legs, but we got it fixed up and working like a charm. And when nighttime came, we went outside and pointed it toward the glittering sky and set our sights on the stars.
Sharon L. Bachman has been published in Fiction on the Web, Mikrokosmos, Son of It Was a Dark and Stormy Night, and Equal Time, which she also edited. After teaching college English and writing for nonprofits, she is now free. When not enjoying the calls of coyotes and owls on the prairie, she loves overseas travel with her sweetie.