Monday, August 15, 2011

Texas Tornado

The chill released its grip on Texas and gave way to unsettled skies. Thunderstorms rolled across the flat landscape, bringing with them black clouds, lightning and worst of all tornadoes.

At school we’d practice for these disasters by walking into the hall in a single file line and curling into a ball by our lockers. I used to wonder what good this would do; at each end of the hall were double glass doors, but according to whoever was in charge this was the safest place for us to be.

There was no plan at home.

I was with my parents one sunny spring afternoon when a need for tornado preparedness arose. The news reported a storm in our area, then the television lost connection. With my nose pressed to the family room window, I watched . . . and waited.

We lived in a trailer in the middle of an open field; we were asking for trouble—tornadoes are notorious for plowing through poorly constructed homes.

My insides trembled when I saw the first signs of the storm front.

“Mom, come look,” I said.

She stood on her knees next to me on our dingy yellow couch and stared at the sky. With very little trees and no mountains, we could see for miles—and what we could see wasn’t pretty.

“Ken,” Mom said, voice lined with concern.

My father sat on the other side of me and the three of us watched what was sure to be our death coming straight for us.

“What should we do?” Mom asked.

“There’s no time,” Dad replied.

Outrunning the tornado would have been impossible. We didn’t have a bunker, no ditches, no bridges, nothing that would have provided an adequate hiding spot.

My parents prayed.

While they asked God to protect us, I cried. I didn’t just cry either--I threw an all-out temper tantrum as the rain hit the trailer so hard looking out the window became useless. The aluminum ceiling popped and the walls breathed in and out with loud groans.

I wanted to leave, wanted to get in the car, wanted to be anywhere but in that God forsaken place in the middle of nowhere.

The wind knocked our home side-to-side.

Tears rolled down my face in a steady stream. “We’re going to die.”

My parents ignored me, continuing their fervent prayers in a language I’d rarely ever heard.

The pelting rain stopped long enough for me to see the twisting clouds in our field coming straight for us, ready to pick us up and lift us off. Ready to kill.

“No,” I screamed, pointing out the window.

Mom and Dad got off the couch and wrapped their arms around me. I was sure they knew we were doomed. The three of us whispered I love you’s and waited.

As if abandoning its plan for destroying our home, the tornado lifted off the ground, passed over us, then set back down. The corner of our barn wasn’t as lucky, but no animals were harmed and we were alive.

Tears of joy fell down my mom’s face and hugs surrounded us. Whether God is the reason we were all spared that day or whether it was just a break in the storm I may not know until after I die, but whatever the reason I’m thankful.

The next day I went on a mission, one that involved discovering every potential hiding spot on our farm for a future storm--then prayed I’d never have to use one.


  1. As always Krystal you brought me into a life in a different place, in a different time, but with the essential ingredient of humanity - when the chips are down - we are all more alike than different. Great post!

  2. Amazing writing -- which I've come to expect. I've only been near a tornado once & it was terrifying -- you've really captured the experience!

  3. Thanks guys! I almost trashed this post. :-)

  4. Krystal, that was a very gripping story. Wow, you brought me into your home with your writing. I have never had any experience of a tornado before I read your piece, I feel as if I know a thing or two now. Did you find good hiding places on the farm?

  5. Not enough hiding spots on the farm. There was a low area on the other side of our pond, but I never could get there when tornados passed us by. I was too scared.

  6. What great talent would have been lost if you hadn't been spared. I always thought I would like to see a tornado up close. But the fear I felt reading this ,well maybe I will give it a miss.

  7. Well thank you. You definitely don't want to experience a tornado up close. Some of the most frightening experiences I've ever had.

  8. You captured the feeling well. I've been there - when I was a kid a tornado picked up our dog house and left it balanced high on the power lines in the front yard. It did a lot of minor damage, but I won't ever forget that sight. Glad you made it. ;c)

  9. Great story Krystal. I loved the feelings these evoke. Living in the midwest we get these a lot in the summer. They always seem to be "around" us, but it's can be very scary every time. Loved it!

  10. A dog house on an electric line--hope the dog wasn't in it!

    Thanks, LJ, I used to cower in fear every time there was a thunderstorm. I was such a big baby.


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