Deep banks of cumulo-nimbus, swollen, fit to bursting, streak across skies just a hair from evening’s fall. Leaves whisper to each other. Branches sway in the quickening wind. I should go in. Seek refuge under shelves heavy with last summer’s canned peaches. Deep purpley bruised horizon, tinged with yellow. Wind and water shriek across the prairie. Like Dorothy, my feet rooted to the grey dusty Kansas earth. Gingham apron strings whip. Braids stream behind. The howling gale screams out my name, as it picks up dust and debris in it’s implacable wake. I take a faltering step backwards, my fingers white and numb from the clenching of them. My breath short, ragged. My heart racing like a runaway train. Conical, swirling, faces forming and then breaking apart in the moving cloud mass. A tire swing, wrapped three times around the cottonwood’s thickest branch with a stout chain, rips free, the wind hurling it again the house. The storm sinks prying fingers into the ground. Battering sheets of rain transforms dust to soupy mud. The tree, my tree with it’s footholds and hiding spots, creaks, tilts and smashes to ground. Mud coats from my hairline to the tips of my toes, breaking my paralysis. I run. Feet sinking into the squelchy mud, slowing my progress as the twister bears down.


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