Rainbow Fish

It began in the basement.

Why does it always begin in a basement?

We were huddling, scared of the storm that was destroying everything we knew on the surface. My sister was crying about the storm, though I could hear no wind. My dad was talking of the destruction, though I could hear nothing being torn down. My mom was talking of rebuilding, what we could do with the garden, but there was nothing but silence. Our wooden home, our small garden, the water fountain where I had my first peck on the cheek – it would all be gone. But as these thoughts weighed the darkness, even in its silence, my thoughts were pounding heavy against rationally. I could not see my family as they held tight to my fingers, they were just the darker shapes against a dark stone wall. The dampness of the basement chilled my body and chilled my thoughts.

Okay, so maybe it didn’t being in the basement. Maybe it began in my bedroom.

I had been in my room, watching the sky turn grey, then black. The voices of my family came up the stairs full of concern and nervous laughter as my mom gathered the blankets, pillows, water and other needed items as we prepared to run from the siren call into the shelter and safety of our stone basement. My sister was already down there. She was crying and holding tight to the non-perplexed family mutt.

I was in my room. Standing by the window and unsure of what I wanted to save from my years of hording and living. Boxes of ticket stubs, baskets of clothes and bags, shelves of books. Each item was crying for salvation. My hand rested on the stuffed animal from my youth, a worn fish with metallic fabrics that used to be the most beautiful thing I owned when it sparkled in the sunlight.

But I had stopped debating, stopped searching, because the sky was changing.

Green is the color of destruction and tornados, but no one ever defined a rusty colored sky. The clouds began to roll – like the waves in a ocean – filling with the color of my dad’s old tractor cart. Rolling, rolling, splashing into defined lines of storm. Lightening echoed in their ripples, but the sound of thunder never reached my ears – only the sound of my mom gathering blankets, pillows, water and other needed items. The rest of the world was silent, still – only the clouds shifted.

The calm before the storm.

With my hand on that fish, I watched the sky – watched the horizon. Where was the wind? Where was the storm? Where was the tornado? As another roll moved passed, even those thoughts shattered from my mind. I watched this new unnatural scene. Two long poles were hanging below the cloud. Metal, thick and steady they moved with the cloud to the north – over my home, over my neighborhood. It stole my mind, as I watched, but it was thrust back into me in the next moment.

The poles lowered, coming closer to the ground, and the base of – what I imagined the bottom of a submarine looks like – came from the cloud. It just drifted along – over my home, over my neighborhood – lowering those poles to the earth. My hand tightened, shifting the stuffing in that fish as I clutched it under my chin. It smelled like my childhood. The air did not.

Then, we were in the basement.

My sister was crying about the storm, though I could hear no wind. My dad was talking of the destruction, though I could hear nothing being torn down. My mom was talking of rebuilding, what we could do with the garden, but there was nothing but silence. Silence and the shuddering cries of my sister with the whine of a mutt being held too tightly. I held my fish, its stuffing still shifting under my fingers, as I tightened and loosened my fingers.

You know, maybe it didn’t even start in my bedroom. 

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