Andrew, August 24, 1992Salwa C. Jabado
We picked all the limes off the limbs we could reach. They might become projectiles, he explained. We made limeade. Mom and I scrubbed down the bathtubs with Ajax and filled them with water in case the pipes burst. My brother had been stocking up on milk jugs, washing them out and storing them for months, cluttering up the cupboards. Be prepared. He'd learned this from young astronauts club, not us. He’d gone to outer space with those kids in a He-Man sleeping bag, launched on a mission from the second floor science classroom of our school. The hermit crabs in their shell- suits didn't blink. They didn’t leave that room all weekend, toxic stellar air swaying the palm trees outside, exploding the Miami sunsets. He tracked the storms all summer until he found one he liked, one that would stick. I blamed him for it. We filled up the milk gallons with water. We searched for candles and flashlights. Hoarded D batteries for the radio, fretted that Dad wasn't home yet to nail plywood over the windows. Our stomachs tumbled. The spinster sisters next door called their cats in. Coqui the tabby ran from our rat-infested shed where my baby pictures were kept, a few more came out from Dad's old checker cab still packed with cheap crystal and lacy bras waiting to be hawked at the flea market. We pulled cans of food out and considered what we could eat. Decided PB&J, hummus, canned corn and even soup if we heated it on a jam-jar alcohol stove. Like getting ready for a party, all this planning. Dad pulled up to us testing out the homemade stove in the driveway. He could always sense fire. Dad didn't think it would hit but Mom threatened to leave so he set about nailing plywood. The windows went dark one by one, the shutters came down. We moved the mattresses into one room, turned the AC all the way up and tried to sleep holding onto each other and listening to the rain. We all slept except Dad who was going over each cement block he had used to build the house, knocking at them with the fist of his mind to make sure they’d stand. We slept and the rain shuddered down. We slept until 4 am when the cats must have found their way out; they were howling, swirling around the house. We slept until it hit.
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