I knew as soon as I woke up, stiff and cold on the ratty couch in the tornado shelter, that I wanted to get out of Nebraska and never look back. I was sure it was a nice place about ninety-percent of the time but if ten percent had to be spent underground hoping a tornado wasn’t ripping my car to shreds. I could do without it.
We were actually really lucky. When the sun came up and we emerged from the shelter, it was the old barn they didn’t use anymore and most of the corn field that bore the brunt of the tornado. My car, the house, most everything that we were scared of losing still stood.
“That was a close one,” Katie said, her hand pressed against her forehead.
I held my breath.
It was like after a bad snowstorm, when the next morning everything was still and silent yet bright. Against a backdrop of a robin’s egg blue, cloudless sky was an uprooted tree, its trunk as thick as my car was wide. The old barn had been leveled, all that was left was a bed of ripped debris, like a crop circle, stamped down like it was.
Everyone was quiet as we prepared and ate breakfast. We didn’t talk about the kinks in our neck from the night before or how when we woke up, no one really wanted to go up and survey the damage. What if it had been worse?
I was prepared for a lot of things on this trip, but a tornado wasn’t one of them.
After we ate, I called Mom from the driveway, leaning against my car with my back to anything that could remind of me of the night before.
“How’s the trip going?” she asked. She asked me the same four questions every time I called since leaving.
“Good,” I said. “We’re still in Nebraska. I think we’re going to head west later today. There’s another museum Mel wants to see before we leave the state.”
I imagined how it would go over if I told her about the tornado the night before. Her telling me to get everyone in the car right now and drive straight through to home. But, I’d argue, at least we were in a place well-equipped for the storm. It wasn’t like we were at some campsite, sleeping in a tent.
“Are you all getting along?” Question two.
“Yeah, of course we are. We just argue about the little things, like the radio, you know?” We both laughed.
“How’s your brother?” she asked.
I twisted to look back at the house in time to see him walking toward me. “He’s fine.” Probably more than fine, I thought, if last night’s revelation about him and Ken had anything to say about it.
And the fourth question, which only a quarter of the time so far had yielded a yes from me. “Can you put him on the phone?”
“Hold on a sec,” I said. I lowered my cell to pass it to him and pressed mute. “Don’t say anything about the storm,” I warned him.
Nate’s look told me that I didn’t need to treat him like an idiot. My thumb flipped past mute again before he took the phone. “Hi Mom,” he said, his tone chipper. Fake chipper, too, and I wondered how she couldn’t see right through it.
Word count: 567
I so very loosely followed the prompt this week, and mainly that was because I had a feeling whatever came out of me Sunday morning was going to be the start of the next scene in my current WIP, a Young Adult novel featuring a road trip. And that’s exactly what it was.
I’m deep into this novel, probably just past halfway through, and it’s moving along very well. The idea of something not being said fit naturally with the next scene, the start of which is above and came out of the prompt. Obviously, that’s not exactly what the phrase “it goes without saying” means, but it’s a prompt to jump start writing, not a forced topic or theme. So it went without saying in this scene that Hannah had just spent the night underground during a tornado — not exactly something her mother needs to know, now is it?
Unlike last week’s prompt, I did revise this as I typed it up, mostly because I had to rearrange a little bit of the phone conversation and had a lot of fractured sentences from the in-the-moment prompt-writing. Since this is a piece that fits in with my WIP, I figured the best way to go about it would be to get it more ready to go now instead of later.
More about my WIP later, I’m sure, but on topic of writing prompts, I’m glad this one fit in well enough with what I’m already working on.