June Bug

June sat on the hot driveway with Lori and Donna with a pile of rocks between them.

“White works best,” Donna commented and held up a medium sized stone.

“It’s just the natural version of chalk,” Lori said rolling her eyes. “It’s not actually scratching the sidewalk. These are best,” she said holding up a rock.

Donna studied it closely. “Looks like the inside of a baked potato.”

June twirled her stone on the pavement like a top. She put her hand just above the cement and felt the heat rising from it. The only reason they could sit on the cement is because their own shadows kept it cool enough. If you moved, you fried like an egg. And, boy, that first time putting your butt down was tough. She had wanted to sit on the edge of the drive on the grass, in the shade of the giant blue spruce, but had been out-voted by the others. So here they sat, sweat pouring down their faces on a hot Michigan day arguing about scratching rocks.

“I’m hot,” June said. “Let’s go swimming.”

“We’re doing this experiment!” Lori said.

A few strands of June’s bangs stirred. She looked up. A breeze glided across her sweaty shoulders and faded. Another, she thought. Come on, let the coolness come. And it did. She turned her face into it and took a deep breath and smelled the screen door. That meant one thing only. She snapped her head around and looked at the western horizon. There they were. Thunderheads.

“Game is over. Storm rolling in,” she told the others.

Donna and Lori both rolled their eyes. “Not another storm report from you.”

June could feel the temperature dropping and the wind picked up. “It’s going to be a bad one. Smells like the screen door on the front porch.”

Lori and Donna exchanged glances.

“Like when your standing close to the screen and talking to someone outside?”

“We know what you mean. It’s just a weird description.”

As the clouds rolled overhead, the sky darkened. The clouds made it almost black. Lori and Donna returned the rocks to their home.

“See you after the storm?” Donna said.

“Probably not ‘til after dinner,” Lori said.

“Mm,” said June as she studied the sky. It wasn’t black anymore. It was the green of an old bruise. “Tornado coming,” she said as her friends walked away.

They paused and looked at each other. Lori whispered to Donna, “She doesn’t usually say that.”

“The last time when she did, she was right,” Lori whispered back. They bolted for their houses.

“Why does it smell like the screen door?” June asked, unaware that her friends were gone.

The wind was strong now, and ruffled her hair. The temperature was chilly for a girl that had just been sweating, Now her bare feet were comfortable on the warm cement.

The leaves on the maples flipped in the wind and showed their silvery undersides. The spruces bent gracefully. June’s bike was out in the backyard. She ran around the side of the house and felt the heat wafting off the bricks from the house. The timbre of the clanking gate latch was different in the cooler air. She left the gate open as she jumped on her bike and rode it across the grass to the small shed. She slid open the sheet metal doors and wedged her bike in with the mower and other lawn equipment and tugged the doors shut again with a skin-crawling screech.

She turned toward the house and saw one of the aluminum lawn chairs gently glide across the patio. The umbrella was folded, but its pointed silouhette swayed alarmingly. She folded all the chairs and left them flat on the ground. No time to get them into the shed. Folded and flat was good as it got.

A fat raindrop hit the cement patio and she heard a hiss as it was absorbed by the parched pavement. She pulled the umbrella out if its holder and was pushed around by the wind and almost ended up on her back in the middle of the lawn.

She aimed the the point of the umbrella into the wind, and the resistance went down and she walked to the house. Raindrops the size of quarters were splatting on her head and soaking her back. She put the umbrella on the ground next to the house. There was a loud crack of thunder and someone dumped a bucket of water on June as she ran for the backdoor to the house, and that someone kept dumping water.

Once inside, she stood on the small rug by the door and dripped. If she took a step off that rug, Mom would kill her. She turned to look outside and watch the storm. The rain was almost horizontal and the maple bent sideways. Some of its branches touched the ground. The wind eased and the maple sprung upright. Another gust and it bent again.

She looked up at the roiling sky. It was hard to see through rain.

“Come away from the windows, Junebug,” Dad said.

She looked at her wet shorts and heard the wail of a siren. “Tornado!” she yelled. She grabbed the dog by the collar and saw her parents and brother heading for the basement, just as she was.

Dad turned on all the lights. Mom pulled out book and sat in grandma’s old chair. Her older brother, Henry, grabbed two pool cues and looked at her questioningly. She checked on the dog. He was sticking his nose in dusty places and exploring. She nodded at Henry and they played eight-ball. Dad turned on the radio at his bench and puttered around. They would hear the all clear on the radio.

June had just finished beating Henry’s butt when the all clear came. She shooed the dog up the stairs and ran to the window to see if their neighborhood had been hit. The sun was out and leaves were scattered across all the lawns, but the neighborhood was intact.

“Radio says it hit the other side of Ryan Road,” Dad said.

That was only a few blocks away! June stepped outside. The sun was low in the western sky, and long rays brushed the bright green foliage and made their coating of water shimmer like diamonds. She put her back to the setting sun. There it was. A perfect rainbow. A double rainbow! She hadn’t known such things existed. Marvelous!


1089 words

Today’s prompt is to write about the weather.

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