We never had a basement, but then I don’t really remember a time we didn’t live in an apartment. A basement was a foreign concept.
The tornado comes. My mother tells me to get Trouble, the cat. I hold him close, rubbing his fur under my chin. She follows us into the downstairs half bathroom and closes the door. I wrap the excitement around me. I hug my mom, feigning fear. And then I realize that the hamsters are still upstairs. If the tornado hits us, they’ll be gone. My mother’s face grows dark but she goes. I hear her footsteps on the stairs to my bedroom. Quickly up. Slower down. First she brings Smokey, sitting his glass aquarium on the sink. She sighs and goes again. Slow steps up and slower steps down. She breathes heavily and pushes the Bandit’s aquarium between the toilet and the wall. I scoot back on the toilet, holding the black cat on my crossed legs.
And then, I remember the newly planted seedlings, left on the back deck to gather sun. I think they were flowers. She stares at me for a long time. She says nothing but turns to leave and I follow her, closing the animals in the bathroom. I follow her to the back door. The wind whips her damp hair around her face. She squints against the rain. I feel the hail and it stings. It hits the concrete and bounces back into the air. The wind. She staggers back, clutching the box of dirt and seeds to her chest. She hits the brown fence.
This one took about 10 minutes. I also misspelled aquarium — twice. :->