As soon as the rumbling stopped, she bolted from the closet where she and her husband found shelter. She barely paused to take in the damage in her own room as she yelled after her husband, “The boys!”
He was already halfway up the stairs.
She turned the doorknob and pushed. It didn’t budge. She pushed a little harder and a little more frantically. There was still no movement. She turned slightly and put her bony shoulder and all 118 pounds in to the door, pushing with everything in her. Slowly, things began to give way under her weight. She relaxed for a quick breath, re-adjusted, and through the two-inch gap she’d made between the door and frame, caught a glimpse of the path of destruction left by the twister through the gaping hole that used to be her daughter’s wall.
“Joey?” she called in a shaky voice.
A slight groan came from inside. Panic overtook her as she gave a strong shove that could have moved a mountain. The full view of the destruction overwhelmed her and she froze in the doorway.
The black rod iron bed had been overturned and imbedded into the wall. Clothes, books, shoes, and purses formed the pile that had been blocking the door. The gilded mirror on the wall over the bed hung crooked, but gave her a clear view into the closet. Underneath clothes, hangers, and pieces of the broken shelves, she saw her daughter’s leg.
She gripped the bed frame firmly with both hands as the ceiling fan flickered and sparked above her head. She yanked, jiggled it a bit, pulling Sheetrock with it as she freed the bed from the wall. Climbing over the mess, she reached for the closet doorframe to steady herself.
She took a deep breath and began removing the pieces of shelves and articles of clothing from the pile. She pulled off several pairs of Lucky jeans, a letter jacket, and a handful of sweatshirts, digging like a dog for his favorite bone until she suddenly stopped as she saw her daughter’s face.
Her heart sank as she dropped to her knees. Tears began to soak the carpet as she lay there doubled over – motionless. She heard her husband’s heavy steps coming down the stairs – slowly – too slowly. The pain. The wave of heartache overtook her as she lay there amid the destruction next to the body of her only daughter.