It had been seven years since the last wind, so they were well past due, but still they weren't prepared. The meteorologists spotted the wind two days offshore, blowing waves so strong they stood up straight on their own. The fish leaped out of the walls of water and swam straight through the air. Entire reefs were lifted, anemones and all, and sailed along until they plopped back in the ocean. And when the wind reached the coast, it picked up all the sand and dropped it on the other side of the dunes.
As soon as the news was announced on the radio, the town descended into chaos. Helen had been eating cereal. She sighed.
"Seriously?" she said. "A wind now? Couldn't it have waited?"
But she supposed it had been seven years. When the last wind came, Grayson had only been two. It had come slower and they'd had more time to prepare, more time to make it to a shelter. But now, she only had today to get everything they'd need together and explain to Grayson he'd have to miss his soccer tournament and go pick up Mark from the airport because, of course, this was the day he had to be traveling for work.
Helen put the cereal bowl in the sink and poured some water in it. Then she went to pull out the wind bag from under the bed. Where it had been for seven years. She unzipped it and pulled out the clothes. She hadn't been able to wear these pants for a while. And Greyson hadn't fit into these footsies for a really long time. She would need to pack.
On the TV, the wind blew through the plains, tearing up grass and pulling windows out of office buildings. The camera panned to a home where the shingles were flying off, then the roof beams, then the camera broke free and went tumbling in a spinning frenzy.
Helen gasped and hurried up packing. Then she pulled Greyson away from his video game - hey! - and jumped into the car.
She could already feel the first licks of the wind outside. The trees were rustling and her hair whipped around her face.
On her way to the airport, the radio blared. Coming faster than predicted. Expected to arrive tonight.
Great. A small panic rose in Helen's stomach. She had to drive faster.
The TVs in the airport showed the wind pulling up corn and spinning it around. The clips flipped to people rushing into the underground shelters, and of the doors sliding closed seconds before the camera blew away.
Helen bit her lip.
Mark was practically running down the stairs from arrivals.
"Let's go!" he cried. "Let's go!" He scooped Grayson up and sped to the door.
"Wait," Helen said. "The wind isn't supposed to get here until tonight. The last one lasted for weeks. We need to get some things together."
Mark shook his head. "There's a new report in. It sped up unexpectedly. It's coming now."
Mark drove faster than Helen had ever seen him drive before, but the winds were still coming. Helen turned around to hold Greyson's hand while they drove, the other cars around them speeding, too. They were close. So close to the shelter. In the distance, Helen watched the trees rattle and lift.