This was the story.
See this post from this morning to learn how the story developed as I practiced multiple opening leads. When I hit publish it looked like this:
“How weird that the wind has completely stopped,” I thought. I raced for the house and safety as I whistled for Mya to join me. Barking enthusiastically, she quickly passed me. Were we playing her favorite game of “Chase”?
Just before arriving home, the weather report confirmed that fifty mile per hour winds were in our county. The sudden absence of wind caused goosebumps and a drum began to pound in my head. The sky was greenish-gray and the clouds were quickly rolling by. Some clouds seemed to be attempting to touch the ground.
“Tornado? Straight-line winds?” I wondered. At the very least, it looked like trouble was headed our way! In comparison with other states, Iowa ranks 6th in tornado occurrences with an average of 37 tornadoes each year. The old-timers in our area tell tales of houses being lifted off the foundation or, my favorite, the trailer that was reduced to rubble except for the toilet that remained, isolated and alone, like a throne. Oddly enough, the toilet paper was ready and waiting on the roll and still in the holder.
My house, my fortress of foot thick walls, was the perfect refuge. Branches fell in the timber. Trees danced as the wind began to swirl and twirl. Mya cowered under my chair anxious for my calming touch.
What seemed like forever in the world of slow-motion-what-if-and-disaster-is-looming thinking was less than five minutes as the sky lightened, the wind slowed yet again and the storm passed us by. A near miss? A typical summer storm . . . could be rain, could be hail, could be wind!
How should this short, short story end?
The story begged for a revised ending, so here are some possiblities:
“It was no longer a dark and stormy night.”
2.”Mom, you are never going to believe how close that storm was. I could feel it in the air one minute and then suddenly it was gone.”
3. Have you ever thought you were in the middle of a tornado that ended up as a near miss?
4. Storms are tricky. One minute this way. Another minute this way. Clouds and wind and trees all moving so quickly that they enveloped me in a frenzy of motion.
5. I stepped out the front door looking for a glimmer of sunlight in the sky. I was searching for just a hint of blue somewhere on the horizon to let me know that the weather had truly passed by.
6. Tornados typically last from a few seconds to about ten minutes. Some appear to last longer but they are believed to be a series of tornados strung together rather than a single incident.
7. Bathtub: Best place to seek shelter in the middle of a tornado, mostly because after you’re covered with debris, you can quickly wash off and come out looking great.
8. Not a branch was on the ground in front of the house but as I turned the corner I could see that every square inch of the back yard was covered with leaves and branches, green and brown, small and big to give the appearance of real treebark camouflage covering the grass.
Revision and ending for today:
(new paragraph – before the last one)
We had taken refuge in the bathroom – a room with no windows where the back wall was dug into the clay bank and was not going anywhere. I sat on the floor with Mya as she trembled. She didn’t make a sound but I was sure that she was able to hear a whole different layer of sound that was not accessible to my ears. “Mya, would you like to hear a story?” I began to read out loud to her from my Kindle. Nothing like a good story to calm my nerves. We were fortunate that I wasn’t worried enough to crawl into the tub for shelter where I could be both safe and clean!
What seemed like forever in the world of slow-motion-what-if-and-disaster-is-looming thinking was less than five minutes as the sky lightened, the wind slowed yet again and the storm passed us by. Storms typically range from a few seconds to about ten minutes. This would not have been the shortest storm on record. But it also wasn’t the longest. Each fearful second had seemed like a minute. Was it a near miss? Or was it just a typical summer storm? . . . sometimes rain? sometimes hail? sometimes wind? The storm disappeared almost as quickly as it had formed. We left the bathroom, looked outside, and decided that it was safe enough to venture out. I was barely able to open the door before Mya raced past me out into the evening. I stepped out the front door looking for a glimmer of sunlight in the sky. I was searching for just a hint of blue somewhere on the horizon to let me know that the weather had truly passed by.
How and when do you “rehearse” and “practice” the skills that you ask your students to use in their writing?
What does your evidence look like?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
Did you name the endings?
(alpha order) Action, description, dialogue, humor, interesting fact, quotation, question, and unusual image.
And how did I REALLY end my story? With a combination of actions that resulted from drafting the possible endings!
Did you notice that some of the other “possible endings” did make it into my short, short story? Accident? Design? You be the judge.
Both the first version and the revised second draft are available in a google doc here.
And for more information about tornados, check out this link.