The Raised Handle In The Ground

01 Aug

I based this one scene short story on events that happened early this summer.

Grey clouds fill the summer sky, contrasting the warm air of the early evening.  Thunder vibrates between the mason jars in the window sill. If Texas is known for anything during the summer, it is the storm.   Church marquees anticipate its arrival by asking the community to pray for a short and cordial visit.

A storm marches towards it’s destination, a small house out in the country (for those of you who are not familiar with the vernacular the phrase “out in the country”  means a person has complete privacy because the nearest neighbor is two miles away but they live close enough to the nearest town to not be considered a hermit.

Inside the house a child looked out of the window like a guard to a fortress, but only a ringing wind chime could be seen.   The boy was standing on his toes  with light brown hair and green eyes that barely rose above the sill.   His sisters sat in the corner, holding one another in fear.   The wiped tear residue from their eyes and no longer cry.   Dad walks into the house from the fields,  his brown work shirt speckled in rain.  

“There’s a storm coming from the west” He said ” could turn into a tornado”.

Mama paced into the room.   She was  eager to hear the news but soon slipped into a state of worry only a mother could understand.  The  lines of her face tightened around each other and two wispy strands of auburn hair laid on the side of her face near her temples.  While Mama commanded her home into its own independent ecosystem there was one thing she couldn’t control and that was the weather.   Even though many radars and technologies,  the weather can only,  at best,  be predicted nor controlled.   This left mama with her hands folded and pressed against her lips.  

Suddenly, the siren blares through the whole town.    The family go outside to the storm cellar and lift the rusted iron door to the stairs,  making sure to sweep off the dust on the stairs as they go so no one would fall.   The door clangs shut. The room was as silent as a prayer.   There are a book of matches next to tall glass candles. The family sits in the only furniture in the room,  aluminum chairs.   A match is struck and lights a candle, it quickly goes out because the candle wick wasn’t long enough.   A crackling noise from the driveway can be  heard from above even though the no one can see what is making the noise a truck is driving along their gravel road until it comes to a complete stop.   Outside voices are talking between themselves about finding shelter from the storm.  They see the raised handle beyond the driveway. They knock and plead the door to open.  The rusted metal door bangs against the concrete surrounding the cellar and they walk downward,  relieved to find this ark.

They sit in the dark to scared.   The couple curl close together with arms wrapped around each other on the last two stairs.   They hear a loud crack like splitting wood.   The front tree may have collapsed on the door, trapping them.  

The couple are a balding man who looks too young to start balding and a curly haired blonde woman wearing no makeup.   They sit in the  remaining aluminum chairs.   They introduce themselves as husband and wife,  Jeff and Molly, They were driving down the road listening to the radio when the sirens started ringing.   

The couple tell the family about an energetic two year old named Zoe,  their jobs with he as a welder and she as a teachers’ aide,  their shared interests in cooking, camping and Southern Rock music. 

The girls were first to forget they were in a storm when they listen to Molly’ soft voice and her stories of her daughter and a recent Creedence Clearwater Revival concert. Dad finds a flashlight and father and son play flashlight tag.   Mama and talk about the difference between the Texas cooking style and the cooking styles of the remaining southwestern States.  

As the barriers between the strangers melted and the last few drops pat the metal door. Jeff and Dad only had to push the door five times and it opens to a backdrop of pale yellow clouds.   The family waves goodbye to their new friends as the truck turns right on a new mud road.  

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Posted by on August 1, 2014 in Short Fiction, Writing


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