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Spinning Out of Control
Welcome to Kansas, where you can watch your dog run away for three weeks! It’s lovely because you almost die every spring! Oh, who am I kidding, it’s miserable! I hate it here! I’m only here because my father refused to quit and move to somewhere safer, like Maine.
I’ve lived here my whole life. My parents said I loved it here as a kid, but I don’t anymore - except, they thought I still like it because I covered up the fact that I despise the place. To tell you the truth, I could care less if our house got swept up in a tornado - it would just be an excuse to leave! You’re probably wondering why I keep talking in past tense about my parents, and I’m not going to sugarcoat telling you why - it’s because they’re dead. They died when I was four.
My grandparents moved into our house to take care of me - they wanted to keep the house. I can’t see why, to tell you the truth. The whole neighborhood’s been torn down by the raging winds of a tornado at least twice. From March first to May thirty-first you’re at risk to be swept up into a tornado. There are so many tornadoes each year, most of us practically live in our basements.
Well, I should probably get going to school, despite the rain. Grabbing my umbrella, I sling my backpack over my shoulder then step out onto the porch, pushing the button. The umbrella springs open and I step into the torrents of water washing down on our small town. Gram used to tell me the sky was crying whenever it rained. I always told her “That can’t be true, the sky can’t cry, it’s an inanimate object,” though I couldn’t quite pronounce “inanimate” yet.
Despite my umbrella, my legs still got soaked through to the bone. My backpack is surely dripping wet, my papers ruined. “I don’t like the look of these clouds,” my best friend, Ian Meier, appears next to me. “These are tornado clouds.” I roll my eyes. “They’re always tornado clouds to you, Hopper.” Everyone has called Ian “Hopper” since the third grade when he was always hyped up on sugar and was always hopping around.
“Are not,” he grumbled, pouting. “Yeah, ‘course not,” I snort, rolling my eyes again. We walk in silence for another few minutes, just watching the ripples our feet cause in the water as we slosh through. We fall into silence frequently, though it’s never uncomfortable. We just seem to be able to read each other.
As we reach the building and gratefully toss our umbrellas into our lockers, sirens start to go off. At first I assume it’s only my ears ringing, but then I realise other people hear it too. “Ian?” I gulp, terrified. “It’s okay, shh, it’s okay, come on let’s get to the basement… shhh…” Ian leads me down the stairs, everyone else rushes with us. This has never happened without my grandparents, and I’m honestly rather worried.
We had practiced the drill a million times before, but never had to use it. Whenever there was a tornado in the past we were at home for spring break. Now, I don’t know what to do. I’m beside myself with worry. “What if they get hurt, Ian? I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.” Ian just shakes his head and says, “then you can live with me.”
I roll my eyes and make a noise between a laugh and a choking noise. “Funny. But you know what I mean.” They(the staff) let us sit where we want within reason, such as not near the staircase. Ian and I choose the corner farthest away from everyone and soon our other friend, Sophie Hoover, joins us. “You know, I’m kind of excited. I hope my parents get swept up and die,” Sophie rolls her eyes and snorts at her terrible joke. Ian stiffens and I turn away, biting my lip.
“Sorry - I forgot.” Ian turns abruptly to face her and I squeal in protest due to the fact his arm had yanked me over. “You FORGOT?!” he says quietly, though his tone was flaming with anger. “How could you ‘forget’ that you’re talking to a pair of orphans? Not to mention make a joke about dead parents in FRONT of them?” he begins to slightly quiver with rage. Sophie shrinks back slightly, terrified of Ian’s current rampage. “Ian,” I tug on his sleeve gently. “Please.”
Ian ignores me. “You’re disgusting,” he spits the words at Sophie like venom. “Absolutely horrendous.” A small girl with mousy brown hair starts to walk over to us with supplies and I tug on Ian’s sleeve again, harder this time. “Ian.” I gesture to the girl, and he waves her over, putting on a fake smile. The girl tentatively smiles back and hands us our supplies.
“Hi, I’m Liv Fanaghan and Mrs.Henderson told me to give you supplies and explain everything to you.” I nod for her to continue, ignoring Sophie and Ian who had taken to glaring at each other. “Well, uh, the flashlight is if the power goes out so we can see. If we can’t see each other someone is bound to get hurt and we want to prevent any injuries if possible.” Liv has only been talking for a few seconds and I’m already hooked. “There is also a first aid kit if there are any injuries. Here, let me show you what’s in here and how to use it.” She pulls out some gauze, medical tape, sanitary wipes, band-aids, et cetera et cetera. “If someone has a larger injury or deeper injury and the band-aids can’t cover it, you wrap the gauze around the wound like this.” She demonstrates by wrapping some of the gauze around my leg, then ripping the end off and tucking the loose end on my leg into the bandaging behind it. “I like to tuck it in so it is easier to take off when the bandaging is soiled and needs to be changed. I’m sure you know how to use tape?” She raises her eyebrows, an amused smile faintly playing on her lips. “Of course,” I giggle.
“Good. But before you wrap the wound, or for the slightly more challenged students, ‘boo-boo’,” she giggles and looks at Ian. “You should wipe it off with a sanitary wipe so there is a lower chance of you getting an infection.” she continues to tell us what is in the first aid kit and how to use it, even demonstrating a bit. “So that’s the first aid kit. Here are some blankets, in case you get cold, and if you want a pillow they are over with the staff.” Liv points to where most of the adults are, though some teachers are walking around the clusters of students. I let my gaze wander and eventually it lands on Joseph Parker, aka my secret crush. Our eyes meet briefly before I quickly look away, my face in flames. “The teachers have portable radios, if you want one, and there are some extra batteries in the bag here.” She holds up the bag she brought the supplies over in. “If you get hungry or need something to drink, the staff table is over where the pillows are and you’ll have to ask a staff member for that. And if you need to use the restroom, it’s right over there.” Liv points to the other side of the room before turning back and smiling at us. “Anything else?”
I take a deep breath, nodding. “Actually, yes. What can you tell me about tornadoes?” Liv’s face lights up and she leaps to her feet. “I have loads of books, let me go grab my backpack!” she races across the room, grabs a small bag, then darts back to us and dumps out the contents of her bag. “Here, you read these. The rest are fiction.” Liv blushes slightly, shoving the whole Harry Potter series back into her bag. “Woah, how can you carry those around all the time?” I roll my eyes at Ian since he carries around a freaking unabridged dictionary and thesaurus!
I pick up the closest book, Twister: not just a family friendly game and chuckle before I start reading.
Tornadoes are often formed in the “tornado alley” otherwise known as central North America. The tornado alley includes: Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, into Nebraska. Every spring, when the cold and hot air combines, it creates powerful storms capable of wiping out an entire city. The reasoning behind this is the cold and hot air meet, creating a spinning shaft 2-6 miles wide in diameter.
When a tornado has touched down and begins to move in it’s path, it is not quiet. In fact, it is the complete opposite. When a tornado is approaching, it sounds as though a freight train is headed your way, even if the actual twister is miles off. This is because of the wind moving at extremely high speeds, however the speed varies with how powerful the tornado is. If you hear something of a large train approaching and you live nowhere near a train track or station, it is best to get to lower ground.
When avoiding a tornado, you should go to your basement where (hopefully) you have supplies and try to stay away from windows. If you do not have a basement, go to the nearest bathroom and lay in the tub with a mattress over top of you. If you are outside and cannot get in, seek the lowest ground you can find immediately. Tornadoes seems to favor higher ground. However, this does not mean because you live in a valley or ravine that you are completely safe from tornadoes. The mountains and hills surrounding the valleys will serve as slight protection, yes, but you should still take the customary precautions in trying to survive through a tornado.
My eyes begin to droop slightly a while later and I realize I have been reading for the past three hours. I also noticed a new sound that was not there before - as though a train larger than life was above head. How far away is it now? I look down to see Liv asleep at my feet, Ian and Sophie quietly arguing quietly. I stand up slowly then begin to pick my way through the whispering students to the staff table and grabbing a pillow. Ms.Connoghan, the librarian, smiles sorrowfully at me and I return the gesture before weeding my way back to my little group.
I toss down the pillow next to Liv and curl up under the blanket, closing my eyes. I fall asleep almost immediately, only to be greeted by my most recent nightmare.
I stare down at my father’s silent corpse. For a few seconds, nothing happens, Then, his eyes flash open, wide, panicked. “HELP!” he screams, gasping for breath. “HELP!” Then suddenly I am hovering over my mother’s body, and she acts the same way as my father. Then I am shooting upwards and see my gram and pop, crying quietly, standing in the rain. The scene changes. I am now standing in a room, watching myself. My parent’s room.
I watch my four-year-old self take the bottle of my mother’s perfume and the bottle of my father’s cologne then dart back to my room. Young me pries open the loose floorboards under my bed and hide the bottles there. “3...2...1… Ready or not, here I come!” the annoyingly perky babysitter calls from downstairs. No, don’t come. My four-year-old dream self begins to cry silently and sits down on her bed. MY bed. She then begins to scream loudly, her cries filled with anguish. “Sweetie what’s wro-”
Someone shakes me awake. Groggily, I rub my sore eyes and look around. “What happened?” I mumble, noticing everyone staring at me. “You were screaming and thrashing around. But it’s okay now - we’re safe. The storm is over and we can go home. Your gram and pop are here to pick you up.” Ian leans over me as he speaks, fussing around with my bag. “Thanks.” I sit up, take my bag from him and go upstairs, silent tears streaming down my face.