a hurricane - quotes and descriptions to inspire creative writing
The wind is howling like some horror movie opener and the room is dark as night. When I manage to focus on my clock it's almost noon. My Ziplocone hangover recedes almost instantly due to a rapid infusion of adrenaline. Still dressed in scrubs and sporting my new shiner I'm out in the street in just seconds. My hair is whipping so violently about my face I can barely see at all. There are no cars and no people. Newspapers tumble around the asphalt as if caught in invisible laundry machines. The trees creak, screaming as their limbs strain agains the onslaught. I take a few involuntary steps backwards and scramble for my front door as it bangs against the wall in chaotic booms. Then the rain starts, not slowly, but so thick I can't see a yard. It pummels my skin raw in the seconds it takes me to get inside. The house is now creaking like the trees and suddenly I glance up a the roof and pray it stays.
When the roof slats of the hut began to fly into the air Papa told us to go to the hurricane pit. It wasn't much and we hated to go, there were no windows, no ventilation. It was right next to the door but even then we had to hold onto one another and Papa held onto baby Joe like he was frightened he'd blow right away. Once we were in Mama and Papa heaved over the wooden boards and sent the bolts home into the frame. Then we huddled listening to the screaming of the wind above, it was louder even than baby Joe when he has one of his fits but through the whole thing he just cuddled and didn't say a thing. Then after more noise than I could ever have imagined possible it was more quiet than the pre-dawn even though the sun shone brightly though the cracks in our covering. After wanting to climb out for so long no-one moved for what felt like an age. Then Papa slid the bolts back and pushed hard on the roof.
For a moment no-one could see for the brilliant sunlight, every cloud had gone, every one. The sky was a perfect blue - but that was the only thing that remained familiar. The hut Papa had build with his own hands a decade ago was half missing and what was there wasn't salvageable. Our crops were flattened and the orchard destroyed. Mama burst into tears and I expected Papa to do the same, but instead he smiled and shouted into the still air, "I'm the luckiest man alive! I have my family and I won't ask for more!" His face was resolute and serious, then he drew Mama into a hug and stroked her hair. Already we kids were fanning out to explore, find out how our world looked on the other side of a hurricane.
When the hurricane was confirmed we boarded up our windows, packed the car, filled up with gas and started out of town. Not everyone did though, there idiots down by the sea wall intent on watching the waves get bigger, so big that they would eventually crash right over and onto the stores that sell tourist stuff and fast food. It wasn't like they weren't warned, but maybe two hundred mile per hour winds didn't mean much to them, I don't know. But we weren't going to stick around, pretty soon everything you assumed was nailed down forever was gonna start flying around like it was newspaper in a gale, only it would be pieces of wood and metal large enough to kill. Dad brought our insurance documents with us, our passports and bank cards. There wasn't going to be a house left after this, we all knew it. But with money for tickets we could go stay with Nana and Gramps while they tried to wring money out of the insurers. That car ride passed like it was in slow motion, no-one talking, just watching our condemned town as we passed, the wind already singing around the car.
The hurricane left our town like so much kindling and twisted metal. There were appliances scattered with no more order than fall leaves and certainly without the beauty. The once orderly streets we called home looked less appealing than a garbage dump. It was all wrong, The homes were wrecks, walls missing and roofs collapsing, and the once beautiful trees on our avenue lay mostly on their sides with their root-balls in the open air. Some boughs had been ripped clean off, not a lot had escaped. I bent down to touch the grass, how was it that something I had barely ever noticed, something I simply walked over had survived. I could pick the grass but not knock down a house - but for the hurricane the reverse had been true. And in all that chaos, after everything we'd lost, I could hardly bare to breathe. The air was sweeter, clam, almost fragrant with the ocean. Perhaps it should have helped me to see that life would go on, if the air could be that good - but I just wanted my home, my town, my old life back. I wanted my photographs, to sit on my couch and watch a comedy. It wasn't time for me to find the silver lining yet, but there was no rush was there? It's not like these streets are going to repair themselves any time soon.
On the satellite images the hurricane had looked beautiful, a perfect swirl of white no more threatening than cream stirred into coffee. Everyone prayed it didn't come their way, that it would leave their home alone, but it had to go somewhere. I guess it could have gone out to sea but its trajectory was to hit the coast and keep on going inland. It wasn't supposed to hit Little Hampton, but it seemed to make a slight left thirty miles out and come right for us. It wasn't pretty. Most fled but me and Jed hid in the old wine cellar. How bad could it be, right? It's just wind.
When it was right overhead it was so loud we cowed with hands over our ears and still felt like our ear drums would pop from the screaming above. The beams of the house creaked in a way that chilled our blood and suddenly staying seemed like the dumbest idea we'd ever had. Being refugees crowded into some town hall miles away with weak coffee and stale donuts sounded like a good deal all of a sudden. We stayed together on the floor, foetal position until it stopped. Then it was silent. Absolutely silent. There wasn't a car, a bird or a person. Jed led the way up the wooden stairs and just stopped, his body flooded in sunlight. I pushed on him and he moved up. When I poked my head through the gap my eyes I couldn't understand it for a moment, like I was in a strange dream. But then it hit me, the top of the house was gone, and this swathe of land covered in garbage was our neighbourhood.
The hurricane shows no sign of quitting. I can hear objects crashing into the concrete bridge that is my shelter. I feel like the middle bowl of porridge in Goldilocks, "just right," any fatter and I'd never fit in this vertical gap, any skinnier and I'd never stick. The wind blows erratically against my skin like it does when I'm driving too fast on the highway with the windows right down. My hair has become a flag and the noise, oh God, the noise; it screams more than howls. My eyes are shut to keep out the violent dust, but even if I could open them I wouldn't. My senses are already overloading my mind and one more wouldn't help.
Anything seen from far enough away can be graceful, be that in distance or time. Long ago wars seem "romantic," far away troubles are "interesting." That's how it was with the hurricane that swept our town. It was an enchanting swirl of white to the weathermen and those that gaped at satellite images. In the years since there have been coffee table books of the "York Town Hurricane" with perfect photography - both aerial and close up. There is a page with a broken doll lying on top a refrigerator, her eyes flicked open. Pretty picture if you weren't there, if you never saw what happened to some of the owners of those toys. It was a night when the wind was as sympathetic as a tsunami, as loving as an earthquake and as forgiving as a drought. It was a night when all that was familiar was ripped apart. Those that made it out live like me, building a new life on a foundation of shifting sand, like the town we loved only existed in an almost forgotten horror movie.
The hurricane had grown to a spinning behemoth over the sea. One hundred and thirty kilometre an hour winds lashed the shore, letting the villagers know that what had come before it was only a taster of its power. The excitement of earlier drained fast and reality washed cold over every face. Wanting it to stop was like pleading with a bullet. It was coming and nothing would change that.
The houses began to be tested: the roofs, the windows, the walls. Roof tiles flew, the single panes rattled in their aging frames, only the walls stood firm. The wind screamed around each dwelling as if furious it should exist, pushing its way under every door and down the chimneys to extinguish the fires. Nobody spoke their prayers aloud, they just huddled together and begged for His guidance, a holy book clasped tight...
The hurricane started slowly, the peripheral winds rustling the trees.There was something odd though, perhaps the absence of birds and a skittishness in the horses. By midmorning it was blowing the dust off the road and carrying anything light that wasn't secured down. That's when the whispers of "hurricane" began. The livestock were already in the creaking barn, it was the best that could be done for them, and the people went to the storm shelters en masse. I heard one guy had dug a shelter big enough for his horse and hid in there with her. The wind was like nothing anyone had ever heard, savage and unyielding, raw power beyond any wind storm. The losses were near total, the homes reduced to their crowded bunker basements and the livestock nowhere to be seen or dead on the ground.