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A Tornado is Coming


Brian Peters

I'd seen a green sky before but nothing like that. It wasn't the color of the summer grass we were lying on or the color of the pine trees dotting the horizon but the color of an ancient river when the murky bottom had been stirred. The weak sunlight peaked from behind dark boiling clouds with slanted rays. A tornado was coming.

It's strange what we remember of our first love. I remember the storm that drove her into my arms. I remember her periwinkle blouse with the top two buttons undone. I remember being held captive by the scent of her floral perfume taken to flight as I chased after her. She wasn't like any other girl I knew; she was flamboyant, care free and full of life. When the rain started, we ran into a shallow cave. We discarded our wet clothing and took refuge in our picnic blanket.

I brought my lips to hers, kissing her deeply on her sensuous mouth. Her hands slipped around my neck, pulling me to her. My arms encircled her waist as her body arched into mine. I felt the fullness of her breasts crush against my chest as my lips traveled down her throat. She moaned softly as I pushed myself inside her soft moist fold; her honey colored legs embracing my strong back.

We made love several times against the cacophony of the brewing storm. A tornado was coming. Our lives passed through my mind frame by frame, as in a silent film; a wedding in a small, rustic church on a soft and sunny September afternoon; a honeymoon against a hot pink and saffron sky with plump seagulls dancing nervously on the coastal sea breeze; our daughter's first cry of life filling the spring air. Small apartments gave way to modest bungalows and finally to Angel Kiss Acres where she raised painted stallions. She tamed them with a soft whispering tone and patient teachings.

They loved her as much as I. She was strong and kept the pain to herself even when it was unbearable until it insidiously robbed her of life and vitality. On the day of the diagnosis, the east was a wall of gun metal blue cloth. The sky no longer beamed and the earth no longer glittered. Our lake turned an ashen death against a froth of endless whitecaps. The sun soon disappeared and the rain started. A tornado was coming.

I stand beside her hospital bed now and watch her sleep, a picture of serenity. The surgeons did the best they could to rid the disease that ravaged her body. The prognosis they give is foreboding. She is so thin; she could pass through a harp without striking a note. I study her face like I did that day back in our cave, lightly outlining her chiseled features with the back of my hand. Her hair cast over the pillow like a fan of straw; her pale lips drawn to a thin pink line. Outside the light from the sunken red disc is smeared pink through a fabric of grey and green. Drops of rain tick the windows and the sky turns lead gray. A tornado is coming.

The once steady staccato of her hospital monitors is now silent. A salty tear rolls down my cheek but I quickly wipe it away. I realize fighting is futile and I give in to the gush of emotion and pain that weakens my knees. I fall into the green visitor chair. My tears stream like rain; my cries thunder in my ears. A tornado is coming.

Like petals of apple blossoms in spring, fragments of my personality will eventually fall away until I will spend hours in her favorite rocking chair staring at the far wall, clutching some antique photo. Its edges will be curled; its luminance will be weak but the pixilated image will reveal a slice of her life that I've always cherished. Pre-dawn sunlight, will spill through large scattered rain clouds, throwing scarlet highlights into the sky and glints of white on the wet grass. A new day will dawn, full of hope and life but I will remain frozen in time; in our cave safe and secure. A tornado is coming.

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