It’s April 6, 2013, twenty-four hours after the F5 tornado struck down and annihilated most of the great state of Oklahoma.
The place I use to call home.
But now, it’s nothing more than a vast area of debris and misery.
As I sit here in what was once my middle school gymnasium, struggling to keep this poorly lit fire ablaze, my mind attempts to comprehend how everything I loved so dearly could just vanish within a blink of an eye.
My home, my grandpa, and my horse Lucy, are nothing more than shattered memories of a life that was stripped away too soon. Not until this tragic occurrence was I aware of how cruel this world could be.
Call me naïve. Call me sheltered. Or call me too young to understand the complexities that this world sometimes bestows upon us.
As I sit here with a swollen face, and cuts on my arms and legs, I’m reminded of how fragile life is, and how it can be stripped away from us without question.
The storm shelter door flies open, unveiling the gray, smoke-covered sky above. Rose Daughtry steps out with her worn down leather backpack and hunting rifle. She peers around to see nothing but pain and destruction.
The farmhouses, cottages, and white-collar homes that once populated this quiet town of Bethany stand no more. Rose’s eyes fill with water as she moves toward the massive heap that was once her grandfather’s home.
The faint sounds of sorrow echo throughout an otherwise silent environment. Rose searches for the sounds but comes up empty. She stands firm and concentrates on where they’re coming from.
Rose rushes toward a heap of metal and wood to find a horse pinned under a steel fence.
“Oh, my goodness - Lucy!” Rose cries, frantically tossing the heavy metallic debris aside.
“Hang in there! You’re going to be okay.”
Rose scoops, tosses, and heaves the debris off the beautiful thoroughbred. Rose sweats profusely, slashing her hands and arms, as she tries desperately to muscle the large steel gate off of her dying companion.
But she can’t.
The gate collapses onto Lucy, as she BELTS OUT a torturous shriek. Rose’s tear stained eyes watch as her old friend lies helplessly in pain. Rose sits cross-legged near Lucy and props her head onto her lap, tenderly petting her, as Lucy’s eyes become increasingly limp.
“Don’t worry, you’re going to where nothing can ever hurt you again.”
As I watched the life slowly fade from Lucy’s eyes, I was grateful to be alive. I realized now that I was spared in order to make something out of myself. The chance to grow and learn from the tragedy that I've endowed.
Grandpa Joe had taught me to be strong -- never to give up on life when things don’t go your way.
It’s those words that keep me going – that keep me striving to make the best out of this sticky situation.
Because as long as the sun continues to rise and fall on this post-apocalyptic setting, the more my hunger to live...intensifies.
Rose grips her backpack straps tightly as she slowly approaches the debris-covered intersection. Glass SHATTERS as she spots a group of looters ransacking various convenient stores, running away with a hand full of alcohol, food, and prescription pills.
Rose quickly ducks behind a fallen telephone pole, observing two looters fighting over a carton of cigarettes and a bottle of Jameson. Rose swallows hard, her eyes stricken with fear as she watches the heavier set looter stomp the piss out of the smaller one.
The ground is painted red as blood and teeth are ripped from the smaller man’s head.
Rose stays low, as she slowly back-pedals away from the gory scene. As she turns around, content on making a break for greener pastures, her path is immediately blocked.
“Well, hello there, little darling,” mutters the deep, southern voice.
Rose’s eyes fill with panic long enough to catch the shadowy glimpse of the gangly man, before --
Rose is battered across the face.