Readers Report: Storm Stories


A collection of short pieces written by Rumpus readers pertaining to the subject of “Storm Stories.”

Edited by Susan Clements.


The morning after Sandy stormed New York, I wandered Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. In my family, seeking stability in nature is a tradition as important as the Christmas tree; it was a song I knew by heart, this walking in the park.

Enormous trees had not just fallen but had been ripped from the ground, roots and all, trunks of great heft lying down like wounded beasts.

A lonely old white pine lay injured on my path. This tree, not even out on the lawns where it would be missed, struck me as somehow sadder than any other loss from the storm.

While oaks and maples offer sweet shade and strong branches, flight is in their nature; come winter, they drop everything and skip town.

Not so with the evergreen. They stand for centuries if we let them. They watch and listen, slowly ruminating, meditating. They carry peace that can stand up tall in an open field all winter long. There is loyal safety in their branches.

You see, my dad used to joke that he’d like to come back in his next life as a blue spruce. That’s always seemed noble to me since his death, and I wonder where he’s planted his roots. Maybe I’ve seen him.

Would this white pine keep all it had seen when it moved on to its next life? I’d like to think it would become a person of steady wisdom, starting out small and mighty, an old-souled infant, born knowing all of the words.

— Laura Fuller

* * *

I didn’t usually need much encouragement to climb onto the roof of our single-story share house, but the opportunity to do so in the midst of a hailing thunderstorm was too great to pass up.

The big storms here tend to be quick, and in seconds what had been heavy rain turned into a city-wide waterfall. Hailstones like eggs flew through the air horizontally as if fired, exploding against the walls. We all gathered excitedly on our verandah, hooting like we were watching sport. As my back car window smashed in, we all cheered. It was an animal instinct that made no sense. The cheer was a little softer when the windscreen followed. I remember wondering why my housemates’ cars weren’t falling apart under pressure.

Thunder bellowed and introduced a shattering of glass. The waterfall had found a direct outlet into my room via a broken skylight, courtesy of the hail. My room was essentially a small library, and until now I’d sheltered it from the custom of showering.

Thinking quickly, I sprinted to the garage and grabbed a tarpaulin, then climbed to the roof. By the time I was standing, canvas shoes slipping comically on the wet tiles, I was as wet and lit up as an angler fish. There’s something thrilling about putting oneself in danger, even on a domestic level.

One housemate yelled up from the back door. “Are you insane? It’s an electrical storm!” I didn’t care, my books needed saving and my adrenaline required action. I clambered up to the skylight, looking sheepish behind its not-so-protective metal grate, and somehow managed to successfully tie the tarpaulin to the grate against the rain and wind. I stood swaying for a moment, looking eye to eye with the clouds and feeling the last tiny pellets of ice striking my chest. It was a good feeling.

Seconds later, as I swung back down to land with a splash on the ground, thunder cracked again and our entire house shook and groaned. The housemate who had been so concerned, now standing outside in the rain himself, screamed. I spun about, but he was laughing wildly. He pointed to the skylight. “Your fucking skylight just got hit by lightning!” he yelled. “You nearly died!”

Mine wouldn’t have been the first death in defence of books, but it would have been one of the more ignoble ones.

— Craig New

* * *

Summer in Texas, August 1983, and the air conditioner is broken. All the windows thrown open. We sit in the living room, fanning the heat at our faces with folded newspaper. Sometimes a breeze whispers through and carries the smell of ryegrass, dust, and the mix-up of all our body stink. The heat shimmers over the dirt and looks like water while we sweat inside and drink iced tea. Mom will start supper soon.

Sis turns the radio dial from station to station—slices of music that she’d listen to for a quick second before turning the dial again in a snap-fizz of static.

“How about you figure something out with that radio.” Tommy moves in his chair, spread out with legs wide and arms slung over the sides. “Goddamn static makes my ears feel hot.”

“Bite me, Tommy,” Sis says and turns the radio dial again.

Tommy takes off his shoe, hauls it back over his head, and throws it at Sis. The shoe smacks against the wall by Sis’s head and falls to the couch next to her. She turns to him though like it really hit. The devil’s in her eye.

“You dumb son-of-a-bitch.” She grabs his shoe and tears off the couch with the shoe cocked back like it was a claw hammer. She yells at him as she lands on top of him and starts hitting him over the shoulders, on his head, anywhere she can make the shoe smack him. Tommy’s all flailing arms and ducking and tucking. “I’m fixin’ to shove this Nike down your throat, then I’ma beat you over the head with it from out the other side.” For all Tommy’s cries, he’s still laughing just a bit. I shake my head and look at the book in my lap, and they fall into gulped breaths next to each other, their backs on the floor.

The first sign of wind is the white cloth curtains flipping and rolling, and I don’t even look up. The rumble of thunder turns all our faces, though. The sun still shines, but it’s that muted green-yellow light that warns of darkness close by. By then, the wind whistles and lightning splinters. Dust kicks up like a wall, and before the rain, there’s the roar that lets us know what’s coming. It’s fast like that, first quiet then hell lets loose its breath.

— Steve Barclay

* * *

This is a place of youth; a place for rebellion and lust

This is the place of frozen cigarette fingers and beer drinking past curfew

Of nomadic friends and half-whit stunts

This is a place of self-inflicted piercings and Sugar Bowl meetings

Unrelinquishing sand in your hair and bed sheets

This is a place of breakups, lessons and beatings, a place that thickened your hide

A place with the heart of Brooklyn and the demeanor of vacation

Barefoot, barefoot  barefoot

Cousins, Christmases and Communions.


But this place, is not that place.

This place is smoldering driftwood

Gray concrete faces

A place troops would go to collect casualties.

This is the place my spirit was broken for the first and last time

This is not home.

— Francesca Oreckinto

* * *

You’re Not Crazy read a towering billboard over the New Orleans skyline post Katrina in 2006. Closeup of a large black and white face peering over the cityscape, a wrinkled, aging forehead partially covered by weathered fingers of a palm to forehead, the gaze so tired and so unsure. Immersed in the recovery ourselves, this beacon became a welcome reminder of being a member of a new club. And if it’s your home and city you’re rebuilding and your visual field clutters non-stop, littered with gutted homes, bombed out cars, and a shadow of what was, well—you get it.  And in those days in the Big Easy you could easily feel less like yourself, questioning your station in life, your emotional well-being and sanity.

Personally I never called the mental health hotline advertised in the ad. We already drank, so we began to self-medicate and drink more. My other therapy? I ride my bike more as a way to clear my mind. In pedaling the broken streets of America’s below-sea-level, red-headed stepchild to the Old World, I fell more in love with my chosen home. I am not a native, but my children are. And their grandparents are too. And that’s what you do with your place of birth or chosen home, you see the good in it and dig in. As an undergrad I used to call New Orleans the city of my rebirth, not knowing how right I was until I began this post-storm path.

In the search and recovery after the events of 2005, first-responders spraypainted on homes a ragged “X” with information like the date of inspection, if any were alive or dead. These are the lingering pieces that cut holes in your heart. Life was as normal here as anywhere else until that point, and maybe what happened was inevitable.  The takeaway, we must all remind ourselves, is that we are not alone. And until your life changes in these ways, you may not fully appreciate the disconnect that can go with the storytelling. How an audience may not get it. Unless that audience has been there. So take heart Northeasterners, a nod from NOLA: As hard as these post-Sandy days may be, you are not alone, nor are you crazy.

— Jean-Paul Villere

* * *

The first time I went out was to find some food. I wasn’t prepared. I walked to the bodega around the corner. It wasn’t too bad yet, a little rainy and windy but nothing special. The sky was massive and gray, just like always. At the store, he was out of food. No pickles, no macaroni, no Gatorade. I hadn’t thought of this. I bought a paper and some cigarettes.

In the back of the paper was an article about snakes. The rainwater might push them all out of the ground.  We think there aren’t many snakes around because we live in a city and can’t see them, but they’re there: in the rivers, the sewers, the forests beside the highways, the construction sites on the edge of town. Everyone talked a lot about being prepared: batteries, flashlights, milk and eggs and the like. But I couldn’t stop thinking about the snakes.

The second time I went out was after the rain started really to come down. I stood on the corner squinting. I felt the wind. I wanted to stay out there for a while, to say I touched the hurricane, or that it touched me, whichever. The Italian restaurant L’Angelo’s across the street was closed. So was Starbucks, the bank, and 7-11. There was nobody else out on the block. Everything was quiet except for the wind. My head ached.

Around four the mayor went on television and said not to leave the house.

Around six it got dark. It was really coming down, then.

I smoked two cigarettes in the house and put a bowl under the leak in the bedroom ceiling. I dumped out the brown water a hundred times. Every time I poured it down the sink I thought about the snakes, about pushing them out.

I went out again even though I knew better. I was going crazy in the house alone. I walked down Broad Street with the wind in my face. I stretched out my arms and let it puff up my coat. It was dark and no cars drove by. It smelled like the ocean, even though there isn’t one. It smelled like earth. I closed my eyes and leaned forward, the wind pushing me back. I pretended to hear something familiar like the 47 bus or the bells at St. Monica’s. I almost heard them. A branch snapped overhead and swung like a dead leg, like a pendulum, like a python.

I fell asleep in the stairwell where I was safe, away from the windows. I dreamed about the ocean lifting up and floating for miles to cover the city. As it descended and the people scattered, the snakes, one by one, poked their faces and tails out from the ground and lifted up, as if under a spell, to meet it. They were hungry for us.

— Joanna Leigh Simon

* * *

Applebees, Chilis, IHOP, these were our refuges. The servers would offer me coffee and the platitudes they had practiced all morning. I would itch the growth on my neck absentmindedly as I wondered what she would think of us ordering a 2-for-$20 deal. Mother and son. Like it was date night or something. I actually knew she would think nothing of it at all. That was worse. So we would order and I would try to avoid conversation with my mother because she is partially deaf and I don’t like people overhearing my inanity in restaurants. At that point there was nothing left to say anyway. All of the topics had been ground down with the banal chattering that inevitably fills hours without electricity. Finally, we were just left with the silence that the storm sought to bring.

I can think of no other purpose of all that ice. It coated everything. The trees finished cracking and the wind died, so everything just sat there. All the branches bloomed and bent backward toward the ground so far they were Seussian. The entire landscape was caught in a downbeat of a child’s imagination.

We would drive back home and try to figure out if the lights were any closer to our place. We were twenty miles from the city. The light at the gentleman’s club ten miles outside of town was on by the third night and it was accompanied by a smattering of vehicles. Those were the men that would drive all of this away.

I would park the car in the garage and we would leave it running. It was our only heater. We made sure to keep the garage door partially open. I would read No Country For Old Men and she would try to listen. We escaped into that world of fire.

She always got tired faster than I did and went to bed before me. I tried to read with a wind-up flashlight she had given me as a stocking stuffer the year I got my truck. But the constant grinding sound of what I knew should be so simple was tiring. I would give up and just lay there listening to the world without anything except its normal whispers of air and the near rhythmic dinging of a metal fastener on an elementary school’s barren flagpole.

— Clifton Butt

* * *

We clear gutters, bring in trash bins, bicycles, shovel, hoe, clay pots, bag of soil, an old azalea bush in a plastic bucket. Evan secures gates, test runs the portable generator. I pull out paper plates, cups, plastic utensils, water bottles, line up some store bought ones, put Purell in bathrooms. There’s extra laundry to do, extra vacuuming.

Our children, 10 and 13, have filled plastic tubs with water for when the toilet tanks don’t refill on their own. We take hot showers. I’ve boiled the rest of the eggs which strikes me as something my grandmother might have done nearly a century ago. The raspberries will last.

Evan shouts periodic updates on the power outage, the map from the electric company on his laptop changing from white to red, towns, one by one losing power, even to the street. Outside the rain comes down in a light mist but every now and then a row of yellow maples gather themselves and shake ferociously and then are at ease again. Once I was in the middle of a storm like this on a rooftop in Morningside Heights, and I welcomed it before I couldn’t stand it anymore.

I turn on the oven, raise the thermostat in the house. It’ll be cold when we’re one of those red streets too. I empty the freezer of mini-tacos, chicken, broccoli. Cook all of it. Our children say, “It’s too hot. Why is it so hot?” They gallop around the house in shorts and tank tops. The dog insists on going out into the storm. She sits in the yard. It must be familiar to her, a comfort, the Shetland Island in her genes. She blinks at the rain. The leaves blow down. We call everyone we’re supposed to call and then we eat and eat.

There’s an extended period of flickering lights before we lose power for good. Evan starts up the generator, enough to run a couple of lights, a laptop, the mini-fridge which holds milk. It’s tradition to talk about other power outages so we do. And then the girls tuck in with flashlights and extra layers of blankets and books. I find myself at the piano. I haven’t played in years, self-exile, but tonight I play. Old songs. “Moon River” and “Vincent” and music I used to know.

— Jimin Han

* * *

 Surprise, on the seaboard, the shoreline, where what started as specks along the horizon rose and took shape upon the waves. Not a school of fish freaked from the storm coming in but big, black boats. In the cloud-drawn day, we watched our own blank faces in the reflections off the facemasks of the faceless soldiers as the soldiers were released from the boats squatting in the breakers. We—me and her—did not let go of one another. There were things I wanted to do to her, but couldn’t. Things I wanted to tell, but didn’t.

It caught in my mind the way the soldiers got soaked up to their knees, or their waist, and made no complaints. Silent in their work, like it was for some great purpose they believed in. And us, afraid of the storm that roiled behind them—such silly creatures, us. But we tempted it, wanting to see some of its power, being there to see it.

When the soldiers came onshore and knocked us down and drug us apart I reached out my hand for you, even though I knew it would be met with more violence, more thoughtless revision of the situation—no longer lovers stranded on the abandoned beach watching the storm roll in, but in the midst of the storm, the storm in all its possibilities.

The news reports said later that the troops had planned to wait for their attack but were afraid their boats would sink in the storm and the rising of the tide, and that it was the time, in all of its confusion.

Finally, the beach was empty but for a few of the boats still anchored and awash in the waves. Rain ticked away at my body and the darkness overhead stretched out to the horizon line and, on the other side, beyond the dunes. From its belly, a bolt or two lurched forth and lit the world and I looked at the lines on my palms as if they were a map back to you, wherever you were. With the soldiers on their raid? With the innocents making their way deep into the land? With the steadfast, stubborn ones, awaiting destruction at the local drinkery?

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath and felt the mist upon the air. It was heavy and I could not hold it for long.

— Sam Price

* * *

He was someone Sandy had washed into Jersey City. I was sitting on the freezing concrete floor of a multi-story car park, charging my cell phone, when he strolled in. “Got power?” he eyed the electric socket, then slumped beside me, a fellow victim turned hobo by the hurricane.

When Sandy hit Jersey City, my apartment was a hundred yards away from the river. By mid-day, the river was lapping the road to my block. By nine PM, from my window, I saw downtown Manhattan disappear like snuffed candles, just before the doorman screamed over the intercom, “Don’t come to the lobby! Don’t—” A snapping sound later, my building went dark.

Later, I found out the water had rushed past the swivel doors, flooding the elevator shafts and destroying the building’s generator. But explanations didn’t matter. Two days after Sandy, I was roaming the neighborhood trying to charge my phone.

Don’t ask me why the car park had power—a separate grid, a backup generator? It was probably luck. Like me, the black man was luckless. With temperature frigid in the fifties, he was wearing a thin baggy hoodie and drooping jeans. His eyes were red-rimmed after the walk here from further inland. How far, I asked. An hour, he mumbled, then described how the rising groundwater had caused sewage to bubble up from their basement. “There’s no power from there to here. Couldn’t find nothin’. You?” he asked, and I told him my woes, which sounded trivial in comparison. He listened as he mumbled curses. It was cold.

I had no power but my gas stove still worked. In my bag was a flask of coffee, which I’d made before setting out. I was about to drink a cupful when he glanced over, then looked away. Even now, he didn’t want to ask for help. I thought about the stranger’s lips, his germs, the way he looked unhealthy, then offered him the cup. It was just coffee but as he drank, he shivered with pleasure.

We sat for an hour together, sharing other random things, bits of our lives, before my phone was done. He had a bag full of drained phones to go, his family’s, so I left him the flask. He didn’t thank me, he just nodded as I stood up. Then, just as Sandy brought us together, we became strangers again.

— Winston Len

* * *

Our island is covered in sand. To think of it, this should not seem such a paradox—after all, what is an island but sand? It is just that now the sand covers places that it hasn’t covered for decades: houses, buildings, roads, grass-covered medians, yards, cars, playgrounds. The pool in the neighbor’s backyard is filled with sand.

Though the rain stopped days ago, there is still so much moisture in the air that in the morning all surfaces are coated with slick salt water, as if the ocean and the bay were still reaching across the land. I imagine them both, divided lovers creeping through the night to meet one another, leaving telltale trails of brine when they recede back to their respective shores at dawn.

The insides of houses are strewn in sodden heaps along the boulevard. Overturned boats make a graveyard of rudders and sails in the marsh—Revenge’s portside rests on a solemn diagonal atop The Annie I. The Annie II, if she exists, is nowhere to be found.

We trudge across the altered terrain in our rubber boots, in the dark. The dogs sniff at all of the new things there are to sniff—yesterday Beau found a fossilized whale bone drawn up from its bed somewhere deep beneath the breakers and tossed to shore, mixed among the tackle and striped beach chairs and strips of decking.

Around us we hear a symphony of smoke alarms not yet reset, tiny beeps of abandonment echoing through the night.

— Courtney Sexton

* * *

We wake up giddy. The wind rattles the house, shrieks Good morning! The storm is coming! Something loose and delicate creaks inside the walls. It’s exciting to pretend it’s the end of days.

I come and peek out your bedroom window and the sky is milky and heavy, half-stirred. Let’s go.

For days, the Weather Channel has provided our soundtrack, moody and apocalyptic. We prepare willingly—carry water for blocks, stockpile ice, charge devices. We are ready for life to be interrupted.

The streets are empty in the grey morning. The weary trees know something is up.

I kick leaves as we head to the pier at N. 5th street in Williamsburg, the wind ripping my hair back into long wet tangles. Yellow police tape blocks the pier and we duck under without pause. Today is made for breaking rules.

Standing at the edge of the frothing water, we stage our own weather report. Microphone in hand, we issue warnings, report on the strength of the wind, measure how quickly the water rises around our ankles.

Back at the apartment, the rain turns from insistent to frenzied.

When night falls, you disappear for a moment, reappear gently carrying St. Anthony of Padua, who you’ve lifted from his permanent place in the garden.

Placing him on the kitchen counter, you construct a makeshift shrine, surrounding the saint of lost objects with glowing dollar store candles. The lights flicker, turn off.

In the morning, we will see what has been lost.

— Melissa Jeltsen

* * *

Before the flood, we ate well. We had shiny bags of potato chips and dinners we could microwave. But when the rain got worse and the television started talking evacuation, things changed. Papa came home from the grocery hugging brown sacks filled with food in cans. We’d have enough to last for weeks if we weren’t so hungry. The sticky evenings turn our bellies inside out, stir cravings we’ve kept under control. Jessica ate a loaf of brown bread in one sitting; I drank a whole carton of milk without remorse.

I called Mama when the water reached the top of the levee. We’re living in inches every day. I put on my finest dress, the one with blue satin trim on the collar and dialed her barefoot in the kitchen. The rain was coming down like snowfall, sort of drifting, and the line fuzzed in and out. I could hardly hear anything at all. “Margaret Eaton, please,” I said. I scraped the toenail I’d painted weeks ago on the surface of the colored tiles and counted forty-four seconds until the line went dead. More than ever I’m the person separating order from disorder in this house. Jessica is like a neighborhood cat, sneaking home when she’s been in a scrape with a boy or when the panties Mama bought her last Christmas need mending. But we’re all together now.

The water from the faucet is brown. A firetruck was outside this morning. Two men in dirty yellow jackets were huddling in the middle of the street while the rest of the crew churned up mud in our neighbor’s yard. One man saw me and waved. I felt him watching me but didn’t wave back. The water’s coming soon enough.

Jessica and I listen to Papa and turn furniture upside down, haul it upstairs to Mama’s old room in the attic. If Noah turns up, there’s a pair of loveseats covered in plastic ready for the promised land. I’ve found eight dollars in change in the past five days, mostly quarters, some nickels. I’ve scrounged up barrettes I thought were gone and lost forever. Three cigarettes that no one smoked, two Papa didn’t recognize, one with lipstick in a shade Mama used to wear before she went into the hospital. Mysteries abound when you make everything invisible visible.

— Alex Peterson

* * *

My brother’s head is full of aliens that spring. These are his stay-awake days, scanning the horizon for UFOs. We spend afternoons in the backyard, Matthew skywatching in the apple tree, me racing in imaginary cloud cars. Oklahoma is bright and mercurial in March, in like a lion, out like a lamb.

The air is green with rain. We sit fixed before the TV, the live splatter of the radar map and the meteorologist’s pink face. We know all the weathermen: Jim Giles, Travis Meyers. They are Tulsa’s finest, revered like veterans, and they explain the high pressure systems, the cold fronts mingling with warm. In the screen’s corner, Oklahoma’s counties like puzzle pieces: orange for watch, red for warning. I know colors and I know maps, and I know by the yellowish tinge of the air outside that a tornado is coming.

Tornados are fickle beasts. A funnel can plunge, uproot Dorothy and land a house on the witch, but leave the rest of Oz untouched. Whole rooms sit undamaged, china in place, beside an upended tree. When a tornado hits, its hits hard and sporadic. At school down the street, we crouch in weekly tornado drills with our heads to the tile, our hands clasped behind our heads. It’s a gesture as futile as any Cold War duck-and-cover.

But I am brave in my bowl cut, a little stalwart soldier beside Matthew’s paranoia. I am afraid of wind, how it tosses the branches of the apple tree, but I am not afraid of any tornado. There’s an old Indian magic over the city, or so I believe, but I also believe in a monster in the attic fan.

Maybe it’s Matthew’s idea, maybe Jim or Travis really do tell us to take cover, I don’t recall. But I remember how the heart of our house was a hallway closet, packed with linens. I remember how Daddy sat at the door while the three of us squirreled inside: Matthew equipped with Bear, me with Blankie, Mom with her smothering arms. I remember not being able to breathe.

Once the power came back on, how we all went to our porches, surveying the neighborhood. The blown shingles. The scattered branches. The homes and families, intact. How the enchantment held, and still does, shielding us all.

— Rachel Richardson

* * *

You can see the storm a mile out. The black pitch sky sporadically traced by the silvery slivers of distant lightning. It’s been a rough day already. Nebraska is a shit state to drive through, rolling green bump after rolling green bump bleeding together in to an unnameable wash. I’m tired and Al is tired and we’ve been picking at each other over the dog in the back seat that we’ve decided to give away because it’s too intent on biting people. I pinch the bridge of my nose and ask Al if I should pull over, if maybe she should drive. Semi-trucks, used to this sort of weather clusterfuck are already pulled over on the side of the road as the first fist-sized drops of rain spatter across the windshield. The wide expanse of blue that moments earlier hung above us disappears in a shotgun blast of thunder and it is suddenly night time and some celestial fire fighter is hosing down the spearmint green Element with an unstopping torrent of rain water. I’m barely accelerating, too worried that the car will spin out or a 16-wheeled monolith will suddenly jackknife in front of me. Lightning, thunder, a wall of rain—it’s all here and I’m just able to stop myself from hyperventilating long enough to take a reasonable breath and turn my head to look at Al, her big white teeth shining in the unnatural darkness.

And then it’s over, and the sun, bright as any sun I’ve ever seen, suddenly fills the car with crisp, cold light. Al, a hint of smile still lingering on the corners of her mouth, her head turned backwards towards the storm, says, “You did good. You okay?”

“Sure,” I say blinking to see in the newfound light, “I think we made it through that one just fine.”

— Noah Sanders

* * *

I was born in Tornado Alley.

In second grade, I had terrifying dreams of tornadoes twirling into my world and destroying all that I loved. They scared me more than anything ever had.

I don’t remember hiding in closets. I do remember the fear.

As a child, the knowledge that the world outside was full of monsters that had outgrown my bed was more than I could handle.

Perhaps this is why The Wizard of Oz has always been a beacon of comfort for me.

It seems obvious, and sure, it’s one of the most popular films in (at least) the Western world, but to me this only makes it more magical.

This film told me that if a tornado came and swept up my home, I would be okay. Not only okay, but better. Because what happens when your whole world is uprooted? You search for alternate roots, your character strengthened by the knowledge of the first uprooting.

Incidentally, the first paper I ever wrote and published (still not sure how that happened) while in graduate school was on The Wizard of Oz. I wrote simply and not that well about Campbell’s Hero(ine)’s Journey and the metaphorical applications of “home.”

Through Dorothy and her adventure, without realizing it at the time, I began to comprehend a story’s transformative potential.

Instead of letting the fear dictate its meaning to me, I began to dictate meaning to the fear.  It may have taken 20 years for recognition, but now I know the idea of getting caught up in a whirlwind enthralls rather than pacifies me because Dorothy led the way.

Because of her, I flirt with disaster. I beg it to fuck with me, taunting it with the idea that I will thrive in its wake.

I’ve been uprooted before, I say. There’s no place like fear.

–Jené Gutierrez


Rumpus original art by Annie Daly.

You can find Susan Clements at her website and follow her on Twitter.