by Michael Brasier
I furiously slipped on my shoes and hurried to the front room where my parents were putting on their jackets. The weather radar was on TV. A mass of red with arrows pointing in our direction on the map. A storm was quickly approaching.
I lived in an area of the Ozarks where storms were frequent and strong. Growing up, we took trips up the road and across the highway to a friend’s house to use their basement when tornadoes plowed through Howell County. I remember my mother’s booted footsteps thundering down the hall to my bedroom. They were frequent, heart-pounding. Whenever I’d hear her steps closing in, my breath would catch in my throat. I pushed myself out of the recliner and rushed to meet her at the door.
“C’mon,” my mom would say, breathless. “Let’s go.”
Years later, I would hear a ringtone over the rain pelting the apartment roof and wake up. I could make out the phone screen in the dark, which read Mom. It was five forty-five in the morning.
Recently, my mother had started to say things like, “I always worry when your grandma doesn’t answer her phone, that maybe something’s wrong.” It was in her nature to be anxious if someone hadn’t called when they said they would. But then she’d sigh. “I’m prepared though.” I didn’t blame her. As I grew up, I thought more about expiration dates than I should. Would my father have a heart-attack while out on the road? Could my brother be late because he was in a car accident?
I exhaled. “Great.” I rubbed my eyes, readied myself, and then, answered.
Through her sniffing over the phone, she said my great grandmother passed away. I hadn’t spoken to her in a long time, but I had seen her on my last holiday visit back home to witness a relative drive her on a four-wheeler. I assumed she would live another ten or twenty years, being as sweet and joyful as she appeared.
After I hung up, I lied in the dark thinking about that moment, the realization that, just as I had aged, everyone else had as well; parents, grandparents, siblings, and neighbors. Family would begin to pass on while friends began having kids. One day down the road, the kids would ponder on the same things I had at their age, and so is life.
Calls kept coming since that rainy night: a high school friend had recently died from cancer, my other grandma had fallen and broken her collar bone, my grandpa’s loss against colon cancer, though this I received in a text just after midnight. Through dreadful call tones, I realized that I hadn’t paid enough attention to the thought of becoming old.
I furiously slipped on my shoes, hurried into the front room. The weather radar on TV, an inevitable mass of red. A storm was quickly approaching.
Michael Brasier is the author of Roanoke Avenue: Collected Stories. His work has appeared in Crack the Spine, Fiction Southeast, Elder Mountain: A Journal of Ozarks Studies, Sassafras Literary Magazine, and Paddle Shots: A River Pretty Anthology. He received his Bachelor’s in English from Missouri State University.