For the first time in my life, I was truly scared.
This beat out the time my dad had come home drunk, raving and mad and ready to take it out on the closest person—me. It beat out the time our crazy neighbor, Mr. Cakkaloff, had chased after me with his shotgun and a bottle of whiskey, scraggly gray hair exploding around his face like a manic halo, simply for letting a towel blow off the clothesline and into his yard. Hell, it even beat out the time I'd caught my parents going at it when I was twelve. You could say I was pretty much scared shitless.
It wasn't just the rain, or the wind, or the debris strewn across the highway, all of which were pelting me in abundance—it was all of them in combination. The wind however was the worst. It blew me this way and that, to the point where it was hard to stay in my lane, much less on the highway. I had always prided myself on being a rather good driver, my driver's ed teacher had even complimented me a few times on how naturally I navigated the car, but I had never thought I'd reach the moment when I'd wish I could just pull over and stop. I reached that moment forty-five minutes into my trip to Morehead.
Please, please, PLEASE, I thought, don't let me die.
A pinecone flew off one of the tall pines bordering the road, and hit my windshield, making me jump. The desperate thoughts were starting to overwhelm me. I was hunched over the steering wheel, struggling to see even a few feet in front of my tires, but somehow, I managed to sight a small sign on the right side of the highway, informing me that I was less than eight miles away.
Miraculously, I managed to find the shelter, an old though still rather large church, and pulled around to the back entrance. A twist of the keys shut the van down as I opened the door and bolted around to open the double doors in the rear. I grabbed a carton of eggs, easy enough to carry with one arm, and walked as quickly as I could toward the church entrance. I opened the door quickly, yanking the handle toward me so as not to spill my load.
The door led into a crowded hallway lined with doors, obviously converted into makeshift dorms for the temporary guests at the shelter, and as the door shut behind me, I heard a woman's scream and then another door banging shut. As I walked a little ways up the hallway toward a door at the other end, I spotted a brunette girl, red-faced and making her way toward the main room. I was just passing her as she stopped cold, staring at a tall, lanky man who seemed to be registering at a rickety table, piled high with papers.
The door to the kitchen was easy to spot as I entered the main sanctuary—it was the door with friendly-faced volunteers flooding in and out, carrying plates of food for the various people who would be staying in the shelter. The room was crowded, full of displaced families, the homeless with nowhere else to go, and various other miscreants, namely the vicious-looking blond standing in a corner, hugging a leather backpack to his chest.
I made my way across the room, observing and trying not to, until I reached the center aisle of the pews, where a leggy blond, hugging a leather jacket that certainly wasn't bought to fit her, blocked my path.
"Excuse me," I asked politely.
She turned to face me, and I had to struggle not to gasp. There was a large, fist shaped bruise on her right cheek, and a trail of mascara running over the top of it. I wasn't sure if the makeup malfunction was due to the rain pouring down outside or to tears.
She cringed back as I nudged her side, falling into the wall as if she could melt back into it. I shot her a questioning look, but didn't say anything. Her eyes, ice blue and possibly the most beautiful things I'd ever seen in my life, were sad and distant, as if she were in mourning. I knew enough of that look to know she wasn't going to speak to me, so I continued to walk to the kitchen, though I couldn't help shooting a few looks back to her. So many unfortunates in the world, hell, even just in this shelter, but sometimes, all you wanted was someone to understand. Well, I thought I knew what she was going through, but the hell if I was going to poke into someone else's business. That was what family was for.
"Thanks," said Jeff, a rather skinny but helpful volunteer who had helped me carry the rest of the van's contents back to the kitchen. "We really needed all this food. There's just no telling how long we're going to be stuck here, it all depends on where the storm passes, how safe it is to drive, how many power lines go down…"
He continued to ramble on about all the things that could possibly go wrong during a hurricane—I took it that he was a native, as he kept rambling off names of local sheriffs and fire fighters—and I began to realize that Scarlett had been right to bring me out a bag. Jeff may have been blowing this hurricane a bit out of proportion, but even so, I definitely was not going to be able to make it back to Allen Farms tonight.
"It's cool, man," I told Jeff, interrupting his elaborate description of a thirty-foot tree falling on top of his house when he was younger.
"Yeah…sure…" his voice trailed off as he realized I hadn't been listening to a word he'd said. I continued up a set of stairs back to the main room of the church, not even expecting to see the blond as she'd disappeared, probably into one of the dorm rooms, after that first time I'd run into her.
The woman at the makeshift desk with all the papers was silently shuffling them into piles, a good-natured smile on her face as I walked up.
"Excuse me?" I asked her.
"Oh!" she said, "You startled me a bit there!"
"I'm sorry, but I was just wondering if this is where I register? I'm here from Allen Farms, I just came to drop off some supplies for y'all, but it doesn't seem to look as if I'll be able to make it back tonight."
"Oh, yes, of course! Here are some papers, just fill out whatever you can, and I'll try to get you into a room."
"Thank you," I told her as she handed me a packet of papers stapled together, asking for basic information: name, phone number, address, medical information, etc.
I sat down on one of the hard pews—something I hadn't done since my mother gave up church when I was nine—and pulled a pen out of my shirt pocket to begin filling out the forms. I filled out the name and social security information easily, but when I came to the address portion, I stopped. Did they want my aunt and uncle's residence or my own? What was this for, in case I died and they had to contact someone? This last thought made my decision for me. If I died, I wanted Uncle Ben to be the first to know. My parents would care, or at least I hoped they would, but Uncle Ben had been more of a family to me than they had ever been.
1401 West Cartham Street, I wrote in the blank, satisfied with my decision. House or home? I'd solved my own internal dilemma with a few scribbled letters and numbers, here on the worn seat of a pew bench, the last place I ever thought I'd end up deciding to change.
Okay, so definitely not the longest chapter I've ever written, but at least it's something.
IM NOT THE ONLY ONE WRITING THIS! The other authors are: Eevy Angel writing Rosalie. I hope you'll take the time to read their POV's they're ALL wonderful and terrific and great and a lot of other adjectives I can't come up with right now. And also, because everyone else seems to be doing it and I don't want to be the odd one out, I'll pose a question. What, exactly, is your favorite article of clothing? (favorite t-shirt, comfy sweats, etc.) Au revoir!
Luvvampluvdog writing Edward.
gatorzgurl07 writing Bella.
book2romantic writing Jasper.
Shaps writing Alice.
Eevy Angel writing Rosalie.
I hope you'll take the time to read their POV's they're ALL wonderful and terrific and great and a lot of other adjectives I can't come up with right now. And also, because everyone else seems to be doing it and I don't want to be the odd one out, I'll pose a question. What, exactly, is your favorite article of clothing? (favorite t-shirt, comfy sweats, etc.)