In the Eye of a Storm
Ellen Gallagher stood at the window, holding her swollen stomach. “I wish Chris was here,” she moaned. Her husband, a long-distance truck driver had accepted a week-long run, and wasn’t expected home for another four days. They had prayed about whether or not it was wise for him to go, but they needed the money and the baby wasn’t due for another two weeks, so they decided to risk it. However, today Ellen wasn’t feeling well. She had called her younger sister Ann to come and help with four year-old Jennifer and three year-old Ruth.
“Jennifer, please stop teasing your little sister. Auntie Ann will be here soon to play with you.”
“Yea, Auntie Ann is coming,” Jennifer sang, jumping up and down.
Turning back to the window, Ellen murmured, “If she ever gets here.” She pushed a wisp of long, dark hair off her triangular face and sighed. She loved her sister, but at twenty-seven Ann was still childlike in many ways and not very reliable; however, she loved kids and she was good with the girls.
As Ann pulled into the driveway, Ellen noticed a dark cloud, but didn’t think much about it. Late spring showers were common in Michigan.
“Hi, Ellen,” Ann danced up the steps and gave her sister a hug.
“Thanks for coming, Ann. The house is a mess and the girls are really wound up today.”
“It’s nice outside,” Ann said, “why don’t we let the girls play outside while we clean, and then I’ll go out and play with them.”
“That’s a great idea,” Ellen said. The Gallagher’s lived in the country and there was very little traffic, so the girls were allowed to play freely in the yard. Although old and decaying, the tiny garage was their favorite place to play.
Ellen and Ann took turns checking on the girls, and on the darkening sky. When the wind began to blow stiffly, Ellen became concerned, and went to retrieve the girls. As she reached the garage, the wind picked up rapidly. Glancing skyward, she grabbed a hand of each of the girls and said, “Come on girls, let’s run.” They ran toward the house, and seconds later the garage collapsed behind them. The wind whooshed across it, spraying dust and debris on Ellen and the girls.
Gripping the girl’s hands, Ellen groped toward the house, struggling against the mounting furry. The wind tore at them, beating the breath from them. Tiny pellets of ice stung their faces like needles, and a wall of rain loomed between them and the house. Ruth began to cry, but Ellen had no breath to comfort her. She staggered and fell, pulling both girls down with her. She lost her hold on Ruth’s hand, and Ruth began tumbling across the yard, caught in the grasp of the wind. “Ann,” Ellen screamed, unaware that Ann had come to help.
“I’ve got her, Ellen,” Ann said, panting.
“I can’t get up,” Ellen cried.
“Take my hand,” Ann commanded. Ellen grasped her sister’s hand and struggled to her feet. They staggered toward the house, refusing to give up their desperate fight. Their wet hands began to slip. Ann’s fingernails bit into Ellen’s hand, but she dared not loosen her grip. Ellen suddenly inhaled sharply, her eyes widened with fright, and her face darkened with pain.
“Oh, no, please Lord, not now!” She prayed. She inhaled and exhaled rapidly three times, and then half-laughed, half-cried as the pains ceased. “Thank You, Lord,” she breathed. The two women struggled toward the house, the wind clutching at their clothes and whipping their hair across their faces. At last, they reached the porch and crawled up the steps. Ann pushed open the door. They staggered in, set the girls down and fell panting onto the floor.
Minutes later, the storm was over. After drying off and changing clothes, Ellen looked at Ann, sighed with relief, and smothered her sister with a big hug. “I am so glad you were here,” she said.
Ann returned Ellen’s hug, and laughed. “So am I,” she said.
“Want some coffee, sis?”
“That sounds like a great idea,” Ann said. They laughed and headed for the kitchen. Only later did they learn that they had weathered a tornado. The next day, Ellen delivered a healthy baby boy, with her grown-up sister at her side.
Author’s note: This is based on a true story. I was Ruth. It was quite an adventure.
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