The rain drenched the little town of Timpleville for nearly a week after the storm. In some areas, large chunks of hail showered down, causing even more damage and chaos. Alex didn't mind being cooped up inside. He actually enjoyed it. He researched tirelessly online about tornadoes and wrote stories and drew pictures of them every day. By the end of the week, Alex knew everything there was to know about the deadly twister.
"Did you know that a tornado is so powerful it can blow a wooden plank right through a tree?" Alex said to his mother one rainy morning. He leaned over the kitchen counter with his knees propped up on a stool.
His mother placed a dirty plate in the dishwasher. "That's interesting, Alex." She wiped her perfectly red painted fingernails on her apron.
"Just imagine if the plank hit you in the face. That would be lights out for sure."
"Yes, Alex, that's enough."
Alex moved his hands toward his face, pretending to hold a piece of wood. "It would knock your head right off!"
"You would never have a headache anymore, that's for sure!"
The day the weather cleared up, Alex explored the countryside. Hearing on the news that an entire farm had been destroyed, he rode his bike around for hours trying to find it. When he finally got there, he saw city workers cleaning up what looked like a toppled-down farmhouse. There was a tractor turned upside down and a wheelbarrow wedged in a tree. Among the scattered wooden planks and debris, a clock sat upright against a window frame, still ticking. Alex wandered up and down the dirt road surrounding the property. Curiously, behind the farmhouse, a flimsy old red barn remained standing. Besides a couple shingles hanging off the edge of the room, it looked like it hadn't even been touched.
Returning home, Alex raced up the front porch. "Mom! Dad! You would never believe what I just saw!" He whipped off his shoes and sat with his parents at the kitchen table. "I found the farmhouse that was on the news. Holy Toledo, was it ever a disaster zone. There was a cat's milk bowl hanging from a giant maple, at least a hundred feet in the air! And, and...um, I saw a woman's shoe floating in a puddle the size of ten swimming pools."
"Alex, chill." James stepped into the kitchen, rubbing the patches of peach fuzz along his chin. He reached into the fridge and grabbed a carton of orange juice. "Something bad happened that night, something real bad." Alex swallowed. His face heated up. James unscrewed the lid from the OJ and took a swig. "A woman was killed on that farm."
The second hand on the clock above the calendar ticked quietly. Alex sat still on the stool, looking into his brother's eyes. A knot twisted in his chest and moved down into his stomach. "Oh."
"Yeah I heard it on the Channel 8 news. A lady was killed at that farm when a tree fell onto the house. The newspaper said that she was in the attic trying to find her cat."
Alex's shoulders slumped. He pulled the newspaper toward him.
"You know, Alex," his dad began sipping on his dainty cup of tea, "a big storm like that deserves a lot of respect. Just remember that."
Alex nodded, digging deep into his thoughts for a response. He wondered how anyone could respect something that causes so much damage and despair. "Okay, Dad," he replied.
When school started up again in the fall, Alex thought a lot about the big storm and what his dad had said. He missed the memorable events that had happened that summer. He often daydreamed in class and drew pictures of tornadoes crashing through his list of weekly spelling words. However, by the time October arrived, Alex was finally settled into the routine at Timpleville Public School. He was actually quite happy. He was thinking a lot less about the summer and focusing more on school. The problem was he wasn't necessarily focusing on the teachers.
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