The cement-floored, window-welled basement of the house is the biggest indoor space we have to spread out, but it comes at a price. My bare feet are regular magnets for misplaced thumb tacks; while misplaced gerbils, who disappear beneath appliances, leave the already dank underground smelling like fabric softener and tiny, rotting corpse.
It’s also the first place we head every spring when tornado season arrives and the local siren sounds, sending neighborhood kids scattering to their homes, and Mom shuffling everyone down below, where we wait for incoming reports.
With the TV and radio competing and other siblings playing, I stare out the small, ground-level window, half-hoping to see the funnel at the end of the our street, moving down its center, like a spinning top, whirling and powerless.
But I know a tornado isn’t powerless. It’s dangerous and threatening my world.
Comforting is the sight of Mom ironing; while through the grimy glass I wait for the mean, dark sky to lighten, the all-clear to sound, and life in the neighborhood to return to its routine.