Josephine sat in the corner of the shelter off the edge of the yard. Her back was pinned against the cool pounded earth walls her grandfather had built so many years ago. She pulled her knees into her chest at the horror of the beastly winds above ground. They had not even reached her yet, but she felt their presence before the sirens beckoned her under earth.
She had been sitting on the porch after the day’s work in the fields, her knees feeling older than the stud beams of this house, watching a fall storm roll in across the flat plains of Kansas. Josephine had never lived anywhere but here on the outskirts of Topeka. She had never seen a mountain in real life nor the ocean. The thought of seeing those things were considered as implausible as living forever. But there on the far horizon the thunderheads formed. The lightning flashed like a fierce tongue lashing from Zeus. Josephine believed in Gods and Saints and all matter of higher powers. It was foolish not to in these tough lands with the devastation they could unleash.
Jo stood from the chair with her hand on the railing suddenly afraid of the electricity in the air. The chill of a freshly turned October was laden in skin as she pulled her sweater tighter. She had a feeling about this one despite it being late in the year, Josephine knew twisters could crop up if the heavens aligned just right; if the opposing air masses transcended their allotted space in the world. Now, she didn’t have any children to worry about and no man graced her bed (not in a great many years ) so she closed up the house and walked slowly to the shelter just passed the squared patch she had spent all day toiling.
The metal doors were heavy and rusty and in great need of oiling, but Josephine never seemed to find the time to do this sort of thing. She had not climbed down into this hole in so many years. With her flashlight, she located the tiny staircase and let the door clatter behind her. The sound was painful and filled her ears with pressured air. Josephine found the bench, sat down, and waited. She turned the flashlight off.
Here she was with an empty head and a racing heart that only beat faster in the darkness. An acrid taste formed in her mouth listening to the storm rage, rattling the steel doors like a rabid animal. Josephine sat there curled in a ball whispering devotions to St. Swithin under her breath knowing this time, he would not relent the storm. She prayed anyway.
Aleathia Drehmer 2010
Published by Doorknobs & Bodypaint, Winner of the Hayward Fault Line Section, Issue 60