The Roar of the Storm

by Lori Hoeck

spinning-cloudsDust floated, blew, or blasted into the house, depending on the wind strength. It filled the air with a choking dryness, a desert in every breath.

After fifteen years of high plains living, Margie longed every spring for the little green that would fill the sparse trees and wild grasses. Her friends in the city sighed at her lack of lawn or flowers, but her small well could never be allowed to run dry.

No, the water could never be wasted on a lawn or a rose garden. The few farm animals and chickens needed it, as did her vegetable garden.

She’d learned the ways of scarcity from her grandparents, who’d owned the farm for years. Grandma and Grandpa took her in after her own parents had died in a car wreck when she was ten. Now they’d both passed on within a year of each other, leaving Margie the farm.

Life on the harsh, wind-swept plains meant “doin’ without” and Margie had learned her lessons well.

“Waste not; want not,” Grandma always said.

“Fancy things are for fancy-pants people who don’t know nuthin’ but how to spend money,” Grandpa said whenever she wanted something new.

Taking these words to heart instead of as advice, Margie shied away from fancy things all her life: going to college, accepting a marriage proposal from a wealthy land owner, and her dream of becoming a writer in the big city.

One early summer day, as Margie dutifully dusted the house, she noticed a difference in the wind, the kind of thing a farmer notices, because so much rides on the weather. Walking outside to the porch, she looked to the west and saw a huge thunderhead building in the sky.

From years of watching storms come and go, she knew this one was a freight train headed straight at the farm. Keeping a wary eye on the storm, she shooed the chickens back into their pen, covered her still small tomato plants with buckets to prevent hail damage, and put the car in the old shed for the same reason.

In the house, she visited the storage closet to pull out emergency candles and the extra flashlights and batteries too see if they were all set to go, just in case the electricity went out.

Back outside, she looked up and gasped. Never before had she seen a storm’s cloud wall so menacing and swift or the color so green, the latter a sure sign of hail.

As she watched mesmerized, a small white cloud spun itself into a downward pointing arrow that stretched quickly toward the ground. Rising from the ground to meet it came the dust. They met fifty feet in the air and formed a now dark, twisting, writhing funnel of death headed straight for her.

Her feet would not move. Planted in the dust, she remained awed at the raw power in front of her. The tornado’s thousand-demon roar filled her ears and heart with a surge her scarcity-driven life had never known.

Before the swirling debris field hit, she dropped to her knees. Without thinking, she raised her hands at the same time. Not in prayer, not in surrender, but in an embrace.

In that moment, the funnel danced up and over her, carrying its ripping and tearing winds a few yards away, where the tornado once again tore open the earth with its fury.

Margie jumped up and turned to follow the destroyer with her eyes. She lost view of it as the storm let loose with ice-cold rain. Fortunately for her and the farm, the hail would wait and drop a mile east.

Drenched, Margie walked to the farmhouse. Just inside the door, she paused. Something odd tickled at her mind. It took her a full minute to realize the house was somehow smaller and less of a home than a house. In the next few hours, as the storm raged with lightning and rain, the house began to feel like a sweater two sizes too small, the collar gripping the neck uncomfortably.

Finally the clouds broke and the setting sun lit up the back of the departing storm. Margie decided to put away her extra flashlights and candles, glad the electricity still worked. As she opened the storage closet and placed them on a shelf, her elbow knocked a box to the floor. Picking the box up, she noticed they contained her notebooks from high school, including her once much-treasured writing journal. As she put the box back in place, she grabbed the journal, blew off the dust, and took it back to the kitchen table.

With the smell of fresh rain still filling the air, she found a pen, pulled up a seat, and let the words flow.



I grew up in the Tornado Alley area of the country in Oklahoma. Storms still fascinate me, and I would be a storm chaser running down tornadoes with a camera if I could.

Thank you for visiting,
Lori Hoeck

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