Their tense bodies huddled together in the safety of the eight by five closet. Her mother’s black cruise dress kept getting caught in the back of her ponytail. She pushed the bulk of her parents’ shoes to the corner and slid closer to the back wall. Her father reached for the flashlight and clicked it off to conserve the batteries while her mother curled into a ball on the mattress. The first feeder band of rain was approaching.
“Hunker down,” the forecaster had warned. Sheets of rain began to pelt their windows and rattled their front door. Palm tree branches angrily batted the sides of their stucco home while a forgotten garbage can thumped against the screened patio now covered in an inch of water.
“How long do we have to stay in here?” Becky nudged her mother. She didn’t like the idea of being stuck in her parents’ closet. They had no television and the radio could only be turned on in spurts to catch the latest update of the hurricane now barreling towards them.
“We can get out as soon as it passes and we know we are safe. Try to get some sleep now,” her mother answered forcing back a yawn.
The family stretched out on the mattress that had been quickly pulled into the closet when a wobble in the path of the storm turned it towards their part of the state. Without air conditioning, the temperature in the tiny cubicle quickly rose. Becky thought she would suffocate for sure if she had to remain in there a minute longer. Her dad was snoring softly and her mother had angled her body across the closet door after determining the mattress was too narrow for all of them. She crawled over her mother’s sleeping form and edged out into bedroom’s fresher air.
The roar of the wind and rain pummeling their house amplified Becky’s own pounding heart. Crouching against the wall, she adjusted her eyes to the inky blackness. She didn’t like Florida. Her father had been hired by a big company and they had voted as a family to move. The lure of beaches and theme parks had influenced her decision. Now that she was here, she missed her friends and family. Hurricanes weren’t anything like this back home. A little flooding or a few days of being bored inside was the limit of the temporary inconvenience. This storm felt like it was tearing their house apart. Part of her wished it would. Her father might then pack them up and return home.
“Beck, are you out here?” her mother’s voice whispered above the rain’s wrath. Becky sensed a hand fumbling across the Berber carpet and bump into her leg.
“I couldn’t sleep in there with dad snoring and it’s too hot,” she complained. Her mother slid beside her and leaned her own back against the textured wall.
“You shouldn’t be out here alone. It isn’t safe. We don’t know what this storm is capable of doing. Come on, let’s go back inside,” she chided.
“Mom, I want to go home. I hate it here. Why did we ever have to come here in the first place?” Becky suppressed a sob and felt for her mother’s hand. They clasped their palms together and linked fingers as a new fury of pellets brandished their walls.
“Becky,” her mother countered, “do you remember how your sins were washed away when you asked Jesus into your heart?”
Becky feared a sermon was coming but nodded her head and replied. “I remember, Mom. It wasn’t that long ago.” A tiny smile formed at her lips.
“Well,” her mother gripped her hand tighter, “He can also wash away all your fears and anger about living here just like this rain is washing the grime off our windows. You just have to ask. Do you believe that?”
The relentless storm continued to batter their house as God’s truth battled her own doubts. Her mother leaned in closer.
“Trust Him, Beck.” A soothing arm closed around her shaking shoulders releasing her heart’s flood of tears.
“What are you both doing out of the closet?” Her father’s muffled voice drifted across the space between them.
“Just praying for our home, Dad.” Becky gave her mother’s hand one more squeeze and turned to follow her father’s voice to shelter.
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