Tornado Alert

The night after the funeral we went to Betsy’s house. Her suburban neighbors had cooked for us: pork and chives, scalloped potatoes, spinach salad with raspberries. The rain raged, and tornado sirens went off for the first time in a generation. It sounded like war.

“Dad’s angry up there,” someone said.

We piled into the basement, which was nothing but beige carpet and possibility. Someone brought down the baby. He popped right into the swing of things, crawling and blabbing, and the girls did yoga-nastics in princess and monkey pajamas. My father’s best friend picked up Ribby the sexy white cat by her armpits and made her dance around, doo-doo-doo, and lifted her up so her legs swung in circles and her hips swirled, ooh la la!

Rain stopped. Distant wails of emergency vehicles. We drove home through the dripping city around fallen trees. My sisters had been sleeping in the bedroom next to my stepmother every night, and tonight was going to be my night – I even had my toothbrush – but it looked too lonely. I wanted to sleep with my man.

At home only Dad’s blue electric globe glowed, and I sat at my desk and looked at his small and spongy bone, and I kissed it. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, but when you cremate, there are pieces left. I got in the shower with the father of my baby. We knelt and did each other’s legs top to bottom with pink pomegranate shampoo. Rain and thunder raged again, then it stopped, and lightning popped and popped across the silence.