Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Pre January Writing Prompt

So my group is doing writing prompts each month, and here's my pre NaNoWriYe attempt. Before you read it, please note that I am aware of the switch in perspective throughout the story. It was done on purpose! ;)

This is a tribute to all the people who suffered because of Hurricane Katrina. May your recovery continue and may your hope never die.

Jenny was sleeping peacefully, blissfully ignorant of the war nature was waging outside her window. She was only five years old, after all, and her parents wanted to keep her in the dark. And was it ever dark, outside and inside, even though it was mid morning and the sun should have been out hours ago. But the sun wouldn’t come up that day, and it would be a long time before it would shine as brightly as it had before the storm.

Hurricane Katrina was bearing down on the Mississippi coast, where Jenny lived. She was unaware of the storm, all she knew was that the grownups kept talking about a girl named Katrina and how she was going to be bad. Before going to bed the night before, Jenny heard her mommy asking her daddy if they should run away from Katrina, but her daddy was strong and brave and said no, that they didn’t run from anything. Jenny was proud of her daddy for being so brave. She thought about her brave daddy as she drifted off to sleep that night, the night before Katrina came to their house.

Jenny slept on, even while the house rocked slightly in the wind. Her mother, Alissa, was in the living room, sitting on the couch and alternatively looking out the little circular hole in the board her husband had nailed over the window before the storm hit and then looking through Jenny’s open door to make sure she was still sleeping. Her husband, Robert, was pacing the hallway, looking at the ceiling for leaks and checking the windows for cracks or other damage. They had already lost power, so there was no television, but the little weather radio squeaked instructions and comfort for everyone listening. If they could just get through the worst part of the storm, everything would be okay.

Outside, the war raged on. In almost total darkness, clouds swirled angrily above the little house, lashing the sides and windows with rain. Shingles were torn off the roof with loud cracking sounds, then they chased each other across the roof with thumps and bumps that sounded like animals running a race over their heads. Alissa looked out the hole in the board again. She could see very little through the curtain of rain, but she could make out debris flying across the lawn. A loud crash against the front of the house made her jump. A lawn chair had slammed into the front door, knocking one of the boards loose. Robert ran to the door and opened it to see what had happened. As the door swung open with the push of wind that struggled to enter the house, Alissa saw something she had never seen before. A wall of water was coming toward their home.

It was at least six feet high, because it covered cars and small trees as it made its way up the street. They were a mile from the shore, they shouldn’t have flooding here, but the water was on its way. Even in the gray light of the day, the near darkness they had experienced since twilight the night before, they could see the water rushing toward them. She ran down the hall, to Jenny’s room. Robert tried to slam the door, but it was too late. The water roared into the house with a force neither of them had ever experienced. Robert was swept out the back door, which was forced open by the wave. Alissa threw herself on Jenny’s bed, hoping Robert was okay and that she and Jenny were safe in the bedroom.

The haven they had created for their daughter was unsafe in these conditions, however, and the wave found its way in, even though there was no door to the outside. It crashed into the boarded windows, breaking them with tremendous force. The windows broke and shattered into the room with them, and Alissa held the comforter over their heads to protect them from the shards. Jenny awoke and screamed, and Alissa held her close. The wave kept coming, forcing itself into the room higher and higher, until the bed was wet and the sheets floated around them. They looked like flower petals floating on a pond and Alissa watched, fascinated, as the water rose higher still. She was not able to think, couldn’t focus on where her husband had gone and why he didn’t join them in the bedroom, but knew she had to protect Jenny.

The water rose higher and higher. First it was a foot over the bed, then two feet. The wind continued to roar outside. Alissa could hear trees snapping beside the boarded windows, and what sounded like a large branch fell on the other end of the house. Alissa held Jenny tightly, stroking her hair, as they both sat on the bed, in two feet of water and almost total darkness, with the sound of the wind outside fiercely screaming through the trees and the vents in the attic.

As suddenly as it had begun, however, the wind slowed and then stopped. The water began to subside, and Alissa climbed off the bed and waded to the door. When she opened it, she couldn’t believe what she saw. The entire house was gone, except for the room they had been in and the attic above it. Everything else had been swept away by the water. She ran through what used to be her home, looking for Robert. She could not find him. Though the swirling clouds were moving away and the sun was peeking out from behind them, it was the darkest day of her life. She screamed his name, waiting for some response, but none came. Forgetting about everything else, she ran into the street, looking all around for Robert, for some sign that he was okay. When she saw the bright blue baseball cap he always wore, her heart sank. It was stuck in a tree, but Robert was nowhere to be found. She fell to the saturated ground, crumbling under the grief as her tears fell and mixed with the remnants of the wave that she knew had swept her husband away from her forever. After several long minutes, or it may have been an hour, a hand closed on her shoulder and she looked up, expecting to see Jenny, or perhaps one of the neighbors.

Robert was standing there, she could only see his silhouette as he blocked out the harsh sunlight. It was as if a ring of sun rays surrounded him. It was a sign of hope, and Alissa jumped to her feet and hugged him as closely as she could. She didn't know how he survived, and she would be concerned about hearing the story later, but for now, all that mattered was that he was alive, that they had all survived. They gathered Jenny to them and looked at their home. It was shattered, a shell of its former beauty, but they would rebuild, they would survive, knowing that, as long as they had hope, as long as they were together, they could face the darkest hour and still see the light at the end.

No comments:

Post a Comment