General Non-Fiction posted February 6, 2016


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A scary day in my young years.

Yellow Skies

by prettybluebirds

Storm Approaches Contest Winner 
It was a strange day for mid- July in Michigan. The air was so heavy that it was hard to breathe. Not that it wasn't often humid in Michigan summers, but not like this. It was so still too; like the day was waiting for something. Even the chickens were quiet not running around clucking and scratching as they usually were.

Around 10:00 AM Mom sent me to the garden to dig a few potatoes for dinner and I hollered for Tiny, our family beagle, to come with me. To my surprise, Tiny refused to go outside with me. She gave me a reproachful look and crawled under the table. I thought it was kind of odd as Tiny and I were best buddies and she usually wouldn't let me out of her sight. 'Oh well, maybe it's too hot outdoors for her today', I thought. That didn't really make sense though because it must have been a hundred degrees in the kitchen with the wood cook stove going. Poor Ma, the sweat was dripping from the end of her nose as she pulled the bread out of the oven.

As I headed for the garden I noticed the sky was a bright yellow color and it was quieter than it had been earlier. Even the birds in the maple trees were no longer singing. I looked for the chickens but they had disappeared to where ever chickens go when they are scared. I was getting a little frightened myself. In all my ten years I never before had seen the world turn this bright yellow color. I quickly dug the potatoes and headed back to the house to ask Mom what she thought of the crazy weather.

Just as I reached the kitchen door I heard Dad's tractor coming across the field to the east of the house. Dad and some of my brothers had been working on the pasture fence. Then I saw two of my other brothers driving the milk cows toward the barn. I wondered why they were coming out of the field and bringing the cows in so early; it wasn't even noon yet.

Dad put the old John Deere tractor in the garage and pulled the doors shut behind it. That was something different too. Dad only closed the garage doors in the winter time. He headed for the house while my brothers put the milk cows in the barn and slid the doors shut behind them. I wondered what on earth they were doing. Wasn't it too hot to lock the poor cows in the barn with the doors closed?

Dad ran into the kitchen and helped Mom put out the fire in the cook stove.

"Everyone in the basement now", Dad yelled.

When Dad spoke like that no one argued. I grabbed Tiny and the cage with Billy, our parakeet, and headed down the stairs. My brothers and sisters were close behind me. Dad and Mom went outside and closed the cellar doors on the south side of the house. Through all this it still remained eerily silent.

Down in the basement, it was, at least, a little cooler. Dad made us all go into the old root cellar where he made room among the vegetables for us all to sit.

Dad said, "I remember a day such as this when I was a child. It grew still and the sky turned yellow like it is now. A tornado came out of that yellow sky and tore my father's barn down. We lost two of our milk cows and some chickens in that storm. I have always thanked God that none of us were killed or injured".

So there we waited; huddled together in the darkness of the root cellar. It wasn't long before we heard the first rumble of thunder and the roar of the wind. I could feel Tiny trembling as I held her in my arms. Nobody said much of anything; we were all too scared to talk. Even Billy, that mouthy parakeet, was quiet for a change.

After what seemed like an eternity, but was actually less than an hour, it sounded as if the worst was over. The only sound was the rain outside and our own breathing. Dad decided to go look things over and assess the damages.

To everyone's surprise, the farm seemed to be mostly intact. There were branches and a few shingles lying about but all the buildings seemed to be in one piece. The chickens came back from wherever they had been and started clucking and scratching like nothing had happened. We all breathed a sigh of relief.

Later that day we learned that a tornado had gone through about two miles south of our farm and a mile or so north of Shelby. It took out a lot of trees and tore down some power lines but mostly the area it hit was uninhabited. Our guardian angels must have been watching over us that day.

Tornados are not common in Michigan. Michigan is protected by the great lakes and while we can have severe storms, the steam is often gone out of them by the time they come across the lakes. What we do have is a lot of snow with lake effect snow flurries. I will take snow over tornadoes any day. That day was the closest I have ever been to a tornado and as close as I ever want to get.

Writing Prompt
Write a short story where a storm is approaching. Minimum length 700 words. Maximum Length 4,000 words.

Storm Approaches
Contest Winner

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This actually happened when I was ten years old. I have never forgotten that strange yellow sky. I never saw anything like it before or since. Everything, the sky, the ground, the trees, seemed to glow with that weird yellow light.
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