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The Story

By Aimee Nance

��Wind wiped strands of blond hair stung Sheila’s cheek. Her eyes watered from the wind, and she could barely see. Fighting against the fury, she was bent forward depending on her momentum to carry her onward. As she forced the kitchen door open, a warm blast of air that smelled of beef stew greeted her. Bracing her tennis shoes on the threshold, Sheila had to use all her weight to pull the door closed after her. As the wind changed directions, the door slammed shut, and Sheila lost her footing and stumbled backwards into the kitchen. “Don’t slam the door,” her mother bellowed from the back of the house.
��“I...” Sheila decided not to argue over something so silly and proceeded into the house to find her mother. “Mom the storm is looking pretty bad out there. Maybe we should head for the cellar.” Sheila had found her mother ironing and watching reruns of “Days of Our Lives” in the den. With a cigarette hanging from her lips and the iron held up in one hand like a hot weapon, Sheila was slightly intimidated by her.
��“It’s not that bad. They haven’t even run the storm warning across the screen yet.” Delores pointed her steaming iron in the direction of the television set. After Shelly tried to explain that they didn’t always get warnings on the television in time, a loud clang drew the pairs attention to the sliding glass doors of the den. “What the...” Delores sat her iron down on the ironing board and slid back the red polyester curtains with her right hand. “Oh, my God.” As the two women looked on the wind blew leaves, branches, trash and even a squirrel by the glass doors. A tree branch smacking the doors not a foot in front of their faces brought the two back to their senses. Delores let the curtain fall back in place. She yanked the cord to the iron out of the wall socket and ground out her cigarette in a nearby ashtray. “We got to get in the cellar. Find your brother and meet me down there.”
��Shelly ran down the hallway to her brother’s room. She found eight year old Trevor under the bed. The curtains to his window were open and the window was darkly plastered with leaves and debris. “Come on kiddo. We got to get down stairs.” Sheila reached her hand out toward her brother. He smacked her hand away as he climbed out from under the bed.
��“I’m not a kid.” Then they heard the groan coming from the ceiling. It sounded like the roof was coming off. Trevor grabbed his sister’s still outstretched hand and pulled her toward the door. “Let’s go now,” Trevor yelled to be heard over the noise of the storm. They ran still holding hands towards the kitchen. Delores stood holding the cellar door open for them.
��“Hurry up. Get in.” Delores put a hand on Trevor’s back and pushed him down the stairs. He let go of Sheila and stumbled down the dark stairs. The electricity had been flickering on and off and had finally cut out. “You too Sheila. Go.” Her mother pushed Sheila towards the stairs. Sheila caught the toe of her tennis shoe on the first step and stumbled, groping blindly for the wall to guide her down. At the bottom of the stairs the noise of the storm was muffled. It was dark and cold. As their mother shut and locked the cellar door the last bit of light left them. Sheila could hear Trevor’s muted sobs next to her. She reached out her hand in the darkness and found his mop of tangled blond curls. She ruffled his hair. “It will be okay,” she said as Delores switched on her flashlight. The yellow beam swept across their faces momentarily blinding both children.
��“I know we’ve got some old camping lanterns down here somewere.” Delores handed the flashlight to Sheila and started rooting throw the piles of boxes that lined the old wooden canning shelves. “Shine it over here.” Delores grabbed Sheila’s hand with the flashlight in it and pointed it towards the boxes.
��“Mom why don’t you let me...” Sheila tried to get her mothers attention as the noise overhead grew loader. “Mom,” she yelled and grabbed Delores’ arm. But it was too late. Delores had found Sheila’s special box. It was one of her Dad’s old cigar boxes she had covered with photos and stickers.
��“What’s this?” Delores started to open the box. Sheila slammed the lid shut with her free hand.
��“Nothing Mom. Just leave it alone.”
��“Mom,” Trevor called from the center of the room. They both turned to look at him. Sheila rested the sallowy bean of light on his face. Trevor squinted against the light. “Do you hear that?” Trevor pointed up. The groaning they had heard in Trevor’s room had grown loader. It sounded like the whole house would be blown away.
��“Yes baby, I hear it. Everything is going to be okay.” Delores patted her son’s arm. But her attention was still on the box. Sheila knew her mother hated her children keeping secrets from her. Delores turned from Trevor and opened the lid of the box. There were several contents: pictures, movie tickets and letters. But there, on top, was a half-smoked joint beside a crayon purple lighter. Delores gasped and shut the lid. She turned to face her daughter. The look of disappointment on her mother’s face shamed and enraged Sheila. There they were in the middle of a hurricane, and her mother was upset over a little pot. It wasn’t like Delores didn’t do it. Sheila had heard her joking with one of her old college buddies about it. Sheila thought there must be a thousand things worse she could be doing then smoking a little weed. That was her first time, and she hadn’t liked it much anyway. There was a loud crack and the distant sound of glass breaking overhead. Delores’ face darkened, and Sheila could foresee another of her mother’s screaming tirades coming on. Sheila didn’t see it coming, however, when her mother let her hand fly and slapped Sheila across the right cheek. “What were you thinking?” Sheila held her cheek and felt the anger wash over her. She felt the old familiar challenge in a new way. They often argued, but it had never come to blows. Sheila knew her mother would win. But she also knew she would get her licks in first.
��“Nothing Mom. Just how much it would piss you off if I mimicked you.” Delores puffed up ready to blow, but Sheila cut her off. “You do realize we are in a hurricane and could die?”
��“Stop that. You’ll scare your brother. And yes, I’ve noticed the current situation. How would you have felt dying knowing you are lying to your mother? You know your father and I would never allow you to do this. While your still under our roof, you live by our rules.” Sheila noticed that the noise over head had died down. She thought maybe Delores would notice and give up on the rant. “We’ll tell your father when he gets home, and then we’ll talk about what to do with you if the house is still standing.” Delores grabbed Trevor and told him to stay put. She was going up to check things out. Sheila helped her mother push the door open and saw that a tree branch had broken through the kitchen window. The wind had blown the contents of the kitchen against the fare wall were the cellar door stood. Her mom told her to stay with Trevor while she went to inspect the damage. The storm was over and Sheila knew the damage was already done.

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