Tornado

Like a fever announcing an infection, the weather warning was displayed: TORNADO. Like an annoying symptom, it was summarily dismissed. If I were to worry about all the little viruses floating around, I would be in a constant state of panic. I carry on, like the Queen had urged us to in dark times. I am serving a customer, remarking on the sudden darkness. He adds something about strong gusts of wind. I can hear the shop windows rattling and my witty remark dies on my lips. The noise in the store is suddenly deafening, windows exploding amidst incomprehension, I instinctively duck as I raise my arms to protect my face. My customer leaps on the counter, or rather is pulled up by his bootstraps and thrown in the air, his face contorted in pain.

Rain is pouring in, roof gone, foodstuff on the floor. The cashier? The staff? Everybody stunned amidst the rubble. The roof is collapsed, is anybody under? The noise continues, trees creaking, snapping, and falling. No screaming, there is no point. I taste of metal, I am all wet. A pinkish red liquid is streaming down my face. I wipe it away with my sleeve, but it keeps coming. The sickness has manifested itself, violent and sudden. Pay attention! It’s vomiting debris of what were once houses and playthings left in the yard. I see a barrel heading our way, a wheelbarrow too, nothing tied down. We didn’t know to batter down the windows or hide in a cellar. How do you react to convulsions the first time they happen?

Help arrives like helpful white cells, mopping and carrying and straightening. We are put on stretchers, the attacked and the maimed, to be restored, ready to fight the next battle. Flashing strobe lights, helicopters, news stations send their camera crews. I hear there were 6 tornadoes, due to unusual weather conditions. Tell me now that climate change is not real, that this is normal. I am in the hospital emergency. I hear there are casualties but no fatalities. People were still at work. Residential areas were hit, so homes are lost, lives only shattered.

I try and go back to the scene of the crime. But can you ever go back? In my mind, I am there always, trying to make sense of this event. My neighbours who were not affected develop psychosomatic reactions. The shock is widespread as the disease takes hold and infects neighbouring cells. It’s been two weeks. Two weeks of phoning insurance companies and trying to restore order. I want things to go back to how they were. I want to rebuild. What are the odds of the same conditions repeating, of the same disaster to occur? My premiums shoot up. The insurers seem to think the odds are not in my favour.

It’s week three. I still have nightmares, still worry when the skies are gray. My scar tingles. It’s not a Harry Potter scar. It will be very realistic for Halloween. Thanksgiving is coming up first. We’re having it at my brother’s, next town over. It’s usually at my place, but I can’t cook, I can’t think straight. Others are taking over, bringing me food. The town is in septic shock, inhabitants walking like zombies, still uncomprehending, numb. What do I have to be thankful for? People tell me I am alive, that only the store was lost. They are discounting my peace of mind, my mental health.

The town is slowly healing, thanks to the injection of volunteers, white cells in all colours and religions. We are given warm hugs in the form of shelter, shoulders to cry on, building assessments. The phone lines have been repaired, electricity restored. The scars are everywhere. Trees have been cut down, uprooted, splintered and quartered. We live in a lunar landscape, rarefied air and meteorites. The Earth is far and blue. I am floating above, untethered and lost.

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