Last Entry: Heart, Felt – Part Two
I wondered a long time ago, about writing a story centered around a hurricane. Back in the day, a friend of mine was trapped in their house during a tornado and couldn’t escape. The tornado passed right next to them, and thankfully they made it out (relatively) unscathed. I had the idea for this story back then and have been sitting on it ever since.
In the years after the initial idea for the story, my world has grown to be something much, much larger than I first expected. What was once a story about a family trapped in a hurricane became something more, and I hope you enjoy.
“Daddy! Daddy!” Lillia screamed into the howling storm.
The patriarch of the McDermott household did not emerge to respond to her pained call. Hysterical, she fell to her seat on the stairs and screamed while Jinny called out from the blocked storage room.
“Lillia dear, are you alright?”
The shift in her tone was immediately apparent, as if the pang of the crowbar against the toolbox was a tolling bell. She became a new woman in seconds. Her prior blabbering reduced to nothing in moments when her daughter screamed.
Lillia dropped me to the stair beside Marcos and leaned to her side, clutching her face. She was young enough to still wonder what death was like, but not so young she couldn’t understand what had just occurred.
Above us the storm continued to reign, violent and electric it whirled over the McDermott household and none of us spared time to mourn.
Marcos put his hand on Lillia’s shoulder, exhibiting a gentleness unseen from him on most days. He wrapped his arms around her and made sure to pluck me from the wooden step while Jinny worked out with Garrett their next steps.
“It won’t move?” She spoke with a stoic desperation to him. Between two adults, the gravity of their situation couldn’t be ignored. The water level had risen to their upper thighs. Nearly taller than Lillia was, and it was only filling faster.
I continued to observe, ultimately powerless in my state, as the adults worked over plans with one another.
“If we knock down the oven…” Garrett began.
Through the sparse holes in the debris I saw him look above, to the kitchen, through a large hole which dropped their appliances into the basement in the first place and I hoped against all hope that these humans could do what they do best and navigate a way out of their imminent demise.
Garrett seemed to have the same train of thought as me.
“We go up, loop around, and get the kids.” He shouted.
Without waiting for Jinny’s agreement he climbed atop the fallen oven and reached for the fractured ledge of the kitchen floor.
“Be careful, Garrett.” She ordered. Her cheeks puffy with tears.
Lillia looked back and forth between Marcos and her mother with teary eyes. Above us, the storm churned.
Somehow, beneath the roar of wind and the relentless pop of the heavy rain, Garrett’s footsteps came from above us. Barely audible to myself, let alone the humans, he wound through the wreckage of their home and found the basement door, propped open by debris. A fallen cabinet from their kitchen lodged itself between the door and the wall, preventing it from closing.
“Kids come here!” He yelled down at us, and the children jumped to their feet.
Lilla sprinted up the slippery steps, out of Marcos’ grasp and toward the man whose arms hung wide. Water poured into a waterfall of sorts, cascading onto the steps where she stopped and caught Garrett’s grasp.
“Are you kids’ alright?” He hugged her tight.
Marcos carried me to meet them and he embraced Marcos too, caught up in their fear.
It is a remarkable aspect of humanity. So often we’ve observed the end of a human life. When they are near to their end, they still make time for one another. To show love, to try and make their children feel like they are not alone. Even if, soon after, they will be.
Garrett hoisted both of the children into his arms and stepped away from the basement, back to the hall. He paused before a small closet which Jinny had beaten them to.
“We will be safer here.” She whipped her hands through the air toward her, gesturing for them to follow. The coat closet on the first floor of the McDermott home had once been a somewhat large space for various storage. What they called a “coat” closet was really more of a place for them to stow their junk, which gathered in piles on the ground on the best of days. Old newspapers and collectible magazines Dale used to seek out. Collections of stamps and pennies passed down from their elders and, as one would assume, coats. Some of them high quality, but a few of them came from general stores, or department stores and those were, in the days when they still had a roof, collecting dust from their lack of use.
“Everyone crouch down, or sit on the ground.”
Garrett let the kids free, his hands and cheeks bright red from the weight of them, finally being released. The man fell back against the wall with a sigh and slid to his seat, his pants soaked with water.
Lillia lurched forward and met her mother’s arms. The two embraced tightly while Marcos stood in the corner of the room, holding me tightly pianist his chest.
It was the first time I’d really been able to stay beside Marcos in a meaningful way. If I’d been given my own choice, I wouldd have stopped the storm from coming. Given that I couldn’t, I was happy for my friend regardless. His arms and fingers trembled while he held me, fear for his mother coursed through every twitch of his hand. I offered him the best consolation I could. Being there.
Garrett nestled us all into the corner of the closet wordlessly. Outside of the basement there was no insulation to protect us from the sound of the raging storm. The wind tore across the sides of the house, the demolished second story and absent roof only added to the scene.
In the closet however, there was some moment of reprieve.
What ever feeling was summoned by the combined group of McDermotts in the closet of their home brought about a sort of peace I’d not seen since I left my station in the Ivory Tower. They were, despite the rotting of the day, calm in the relative comfort of their coat closet.
Two days prior, they had gathered there as well to discuss their plan for the coming storm. Warnings told them to be wary, to gather their things and get out but Dale was a man of great posessession. He would not abandon his home unless it was necessary.
The “family meeting” he called outside the door of the very closet we then occupied was to explain just such a topic. Jinny’s wish for him years ago to build a fortified storm bunker justified his position to remain in the house despite the numerous warnings to escape. He convinced them to stay, adamant that the house was the safest place they could be.
He would not continue on to see the results of his decision, but I did.
Confined, somewhat safe within the walls of the coat closet, Jinny McDermott wept, lamenting the room she’d requested which led to the death of her husband, beneath the flooding basement with a wound on his head. She cursed him, under her breath. Garrett, nor the children knew, but I did.
Garrett McDermott, the brother to Jinny, regretted for a moment, his decision to stop by their house before he left. What began as a pit stop to pick up his things left in their house quickly evolved into the need to hide beneath the surface, his hopes of escaping dashed. Garrett didn’t know the storm would arrive so soon, or that his brother in law would suggest they all stay “safe” in the basement, but I did.
Dale McDermott was a good man, but he was a selfish man. In the spare moment we were able to remain confined to the closet, the sound of beating rain and thundering wind dull to our senses, each of us spared a moment to consider Dale for the man he was. I do not doubt Lillia or Jinny recollected his multitudes of kindness, or his dedication to their family, but as my best friends sat beside me with wet clothing, covered in dirt, I could only consider his selfishness.
Within the closet, we listened. The sounds of the storm from outside rocked the house. More devastations emerged from the depths of the wind and rain. Around is it was as if the McDermott household was falling to pieces, leaving only our closet standing in the wake of the hurricane. The storm did not release its grip on our slice of safety. If anything, it grew more and more devastating.
What came next, I cannot explain to you in earnest. Following a terrible crash from the front of the house, Uncle Garrett stood from his safety and moved toward the door.
“What are you doing?” Jinny called, and I would have called as well if I were blessed with a mouth to speak.
“I am looking.” Garrett replied, his voice long since hoarse from the shouting.
I do not know if he was pent up from the sitting and waiting, or if he was curious about the sound, worried what it might mean for the family. I might never know. Perhaps he too was selfish, like Dale, and wanted to be free from the storm. A feeling I suspect all of your kind experience once and a while.
Regardless of his motive, Garrett McDermott stood and left the closet. As soon as the door was released from the latch, the wind caught it and tore it open, thrashing it to the side and laying bare the new destruction to the house. Lillia held me tight, and Marcos held her. Jinny and I watched Uncle Garrett, for a reason he did not say, step out into the storm.
His last moment with us, he stood beside his truck and trailer, hooked up and ready to leave the city, but not before he stopped by for one last thing, to say goodbye to his little niece.
Through the cracks in the wall which grew ever larger, I watched him stop beside his truck and look up into the sky. I was thankful for Jinny, who turned her attention to the children and covered their eyes. Even more thankful that she didn’t see what I saw.
Garrett McDermott braced himself against the side of his truck, his hands wrenched around the rearview mirror while the wind tore at his skin and threatened to flay it from him entirely. Then, in a moment which would have lived within Lillia for eternity had she bore witness, the man began to float upward. Lifted by a force, pulled from the ground and thrown into the sky with a flash of blistering veridian light.
Later accounts of the experience retold by survivors of the storm cited seeing a woman, clothed in storm clouds and lightning in the midst of the torrential rain. They recounted correctly, her eyes weeping rainwater, longing for a life she could not live. The lights flashing amid the storm were not simply happenstance. I know now what I did not know then, that the storm was powerful enough to lift him to the sky, but it was not merely the storm.
It was Luck, and she was furious.
Thank you so much for reading Part Three!
Heart, Felt – Part Four is live now!
I’ve wanted to write this series for a long time but haven’t ever gotten around to it. When I first came up with the idea, it was somewhere around 2011, 2012 or so. A lot of what you’ll see this month was spawned from back in the day. A decade ago my plans for my writing were far different than what they are now, and I’m so grateful to get to share them with you now.
Thank you for participating once more in the Lifeis+ celebration. I’ve got a lot to celebrate this time around so you’ll be hearing from me often. If you’d like to read more, you can check out me current fiction project Sisters of Westwinter & The Portmanteaux Series below!
If you’d like to support what I’m doing here, you can click either of the links below to be taken to ways you can help you (if you feel so inclined!)
I’ve recently started a Ko-fi Shop online where, if you would like to help support me as I continue to work on my various writing projects here and over on Vocal, I would be so, so appreciative.
As of the publication of this post, it’s a little barebones but I’m working on getting it spruced up! I’ll be linking it at the end of each of my posts going forward if you are interested in helping me keep my eyes open at all. Anything offered through Ko-fi will go directly back into the blog, or toward other projects I can’t afford at the time.
Regardless of your decision, thank you for being here. 🔺
A.T. Baines Ko-Fi
Mental Health Support
Consider donating to a charity with the intention of aiding those struggling with thoughts of Suicide, Self Harm or Depression.
Below I’ve listed a few charities and non-profit organizations you can donate to. if you’d like to support groups trying to make the world a little bit less sad.
If you don’t see your preferred charity here, pick one! Or go give someone’s dog a treat. Anything kind will work. ❤️
More from Me:
Breaking a Promise (My Favorite Flowers: 2)
In a garden somewhere, not quite here and not quite anywhere, there is a boy who has cried his eyes away.
Seeing Someone Learn (My Favorite Flowers: 1)
In a garden somewhere, not quite here and not quite anywhere, there’s a boy who is afraid of eyes.
SOW: Chapter Five, Part Five: A Single Spark
The Nail Ward, as they called it, was as miserable as it looked from the outside. The thousands of needles covering the floor and walls made it impossible to relax, and sleep was terribly out of the question. So Kerrick stood in the corner waiting, patiently, for the sunrise.
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