Tuesday 19 November 2019

Category 4

by Gill James

malted milk

"Honey it looks as if it's going to be pretty bad." Lydia turned away from the TV set and looked at her husband. "Should we start packing?"
"Do you think that the Lord would leave us die? Don't you think we should be doing His will?"
"Of course, dear."
Lydia wasn't so convinced, though. They'd said it would be a category four. That could wipe out whole buildings. Lots of trees would come down. The power would most likely fail and the damage might take weeks if not months to put right. And they'd told everybody to evacuate.
Bill put his arm around her. "Don't you worry, sweetheart. He will provide." He sighed. "Anyway, I think it’s a sure sign that the end is nigh." He rubbed her arm and brushed her cheek. "Now, I'm going to have a quiet time and prepare to meet my maker. I'll be in the study if you need me."
The rain started at that very instant. Lydia watched it cascade down the window panes for hours as she listened to further weather reports. It was getting worse by the minute and the TV reports weren't encouraging. Then there were claps of thunder and flashes of lightning, both more violent than she'd ever seen before. One particularly loud clap made the house shake. Was it going to fall down? 
"Bill," she called. "Bill?"
But he didn't answer.
Then Cormy and Suzy appeared at the top of the stairs. "Mummy, we're scared," whined Cormy.
"Come on then. Come downstairs and sit with me."
Bill appeared on the landing. "What's going on? It's no good being soft with them, Lydia. Children, go back to bed. The Lord will provide."
Suzy started crying, but took Cormy's hand and the two of them began to make their way back upstairs. Before they reached the top, however there was another almighty bang. The lights went out.
"That's the power line, Bill."
Suzy and Cormy began to scream.
"Say what you like, Bill. I'm getting them out of here. She ran upstairs, gathered the two children in her arms and led them outside, collecting hats and coats on the way. Once outside she wrapped them and herself up as warmly as she could.
She watched in horror as the house was hit by yet more violent lightning. It burst into flames. "Run," she shouted. Where was Bill? Oh, she'd have to worry about him later.
They ran as far as they could and then when they had no more breath they turned to watch the house burn. She was relieved, or at least she realised she ought to be as she saw her husband limping towards them. She didn't know whether to laugh or cry. His dog collar was firmly fixed to the top of his crease-less white shirt.  
The children were sobbing and screaming. 
Within a few minutes there was no more of the home that she and Bill had built up over fifteen years.
Still the rain torrented down.   
"I'm sorry, said Bill.”I just wanted to keep all of you safe from the others. I really thought it was going to be the end of the world."
"Bill, it's a goddamn hurricane, that's all. We could have been safe and dry in one of those refuges if we'd left when they told us to."
Bill looked as if he was going to cry. Lydia remembered how she had first fallen in love with him. He was a big softy really. She shook her head and touched his arm. "You and your precious principles."
Bill stood up straighter, fiddled with his dog collar and frowned slightly. He pulled them all into an embrace. "The Lord will provide."
There was another huge clap of thunder and a flash of lightning.
Lydia doubted He would.       

About the author

Gill James is published by, amongst others, Tabby Cat Press, The Red Telephone, Butterfly, The Professional and Higher Partnership and Continuum. She is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at Salford University.
She edits CafeLit.
She has an MA in Writing for Children and PhD in Creative and Critical Writing    




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