Friday, August 24, 2012


My heart quickens as the rain pouring on my roof turns into the clattering sound of hail. Furious wind wraps around my house like squeezing fingers, and the boards squeak and moan. This house is so ancient it wouldn’t surprise me if it could be easily crushed like a pack of crackers.
      Stop being paranoid, Thea. It's just a storm.
      Another flash of lightning cuts through my dark room, and in that tiny second, I swear I see a face looking through my rain-spattered window.
      Nope, nope, nope. I tell myself. There’s no way someone is out there in that storm. I need a serious reality check.
I pull my comforter over my head—just to be safe—and shove in my earbuds to block out the sound of the screaming wind chimes outside.
      My iPod lights up the dark cave of my blankets as I scroll through the songs. I finally settle on Lady Gaga. Surely her weirdo music can drown out the noise. I squeeze my eyes shut and try to ignore the feeling of the walls of our hundred-year-old house rattling.  A siren shrieks through my room, and for a few seconds, I think its part of the song. But I realize—too late—that it’s the tornado siren.
      I punch the pause button and yank out my earbuds. The room has gone still. The only sound in the world is the wailing siren piercing through the trees. Maybe the siren is wrong. The storm has basically stopped.
A roar louder than the siren detonates from the sky before I have the chance to move an inch.
Glass shatters. Metal squeals. Wood cracks. My house is exploding into splinters around me, and I can't do anything but hunker down in my bed and cover my face.
      The deafening wind yanks me from my bed and pulls me across the room, dragging me like I weigh nothing. I try to stand, but the floor disappears from under my bare feet. I'm afraid that if I open my eyes, I'll get an eyeball full of debris, so I keep them shut. But I'm certain that I'm no longer inside my house. I'm not even sure my house is a house anymore.
      My body is whipped around like a rose petal, curled in ways that it's not supposed to bend, but I can't stop it. I don't have any control over myself. I try to hug my arms to my chest, but they're ripped away, taken in whatever direction the wind wants to blow them. Something slices across my cheek and I cry out in pain. I open my eyes with out thinking, and I'm astonished at what I see.
      I'm inside of it.
      The tornado that plucked me out of my house has not let me go yet. It's dark, but lightning bolts are flashing around the funnel like a strobe light. Pieces of metal and wood swirl past me, and I try to tuck my head down to avoid them. But the wind tosses me around and shakes me loose. Furious pressure tugs at my limbs, like I'm going to explode the way my house did.
      I hold my breath. I know I'm going to die soon, and I wish it would just happen already.
      This is an awful way to die.
      Then as suddenly as it started, it stops, and I'm falling. But I don't have far to fall, so when I hit the ground, it doesn't hurt as bad as I expected. I lie still and try to catch my breath, expecting the wind to pick me up again. It's raining—drops bounce off my forehead and run down my face.
      What the hell?
      I slowly turn my head from side to side to make sure that my neck still works. I wiggle my fingers and toes. Thank God. Nothing is broken. In fact, besides the burning cut on my right cheek, I think I'm okay. I sit up and open my eyes. The rain is still coming down in sheets, but the wind has subsided for the most part. As I brace myself to stand up, my left hand touches something smooth. I hold it up and laugh as I realize what it is. My iPod.
      It’s too dark for me to be able to see where I am, so I climb to my feet and start walking. Surely the tornado hadn’t brought me far, and I can find a neighbor’s house and call my parents.
I can’t believe I just survived a freaking tornado.
I stick my iPod in the pocket of my sweat pants, and trudge through the muddy grass of someone’s front lawn and rap on the front door. A blue moth flutters around the yellow glow of the porch light. I look closer at the moth and realize that it’s not a moth at all. It’s a tiny bird with brilliant blue feathers and a tongue as long as a frog’s. It flitters about, snatching the bugs around the bulb into its mouth with a quick snap of its tongue.
      How weird. I’ve never seen a bird like that before.
      The door swings open and I am face to face with the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen. She stands two heads below me, which I’m used to since I’m pretty tall. The girl peers up at me with eyes the color of sapphires. They glitter as the reflection of the tiny bird’s beating wings pulsates in her irises. Her red hair is almost orange, but it suits her creamy skin.
      “Who are you?” she asks with narrowed eyes. I’m sure I’m a mess after what I’ve just been through, so I don’t blame her for being suspicious.
      “My name’s Thea,” I say. She waits for an explanation. “This is going to sound really weird…”
      The girl puts ahand on her hip and gently shoos away the bird that is now flapping around her head. She looks up at me, her fingers clenched around the edge of the wooden door so she can slam it in my face if she needs to.
      “Who sent you, Thea?” she asks warily.
      “Um… No one sent me here. I was sort of dropped here. Out of the sky.”
      A nervous laugh spills through my lips as I realize that my explanation makes absolutely no sense. The small girl doesn’t seem amused though. She looks… afraid.
      “You’re not from Inbetween?”
      “No,” I say, shaking my head. My soaking wet hair slaps against my cheeks, stinging my cut. “Wait. What in the world is ‘Inbetween’?”
      The girl pokes her head out of the door, looks around, grabs my wrist and yanks me inside.
      The inside of her house is as tiny as she is. It’s sparsely decorated with a small couch and a coffee table made out of a tree trunk.
      “I’m Cinda,” says the girl, closing the door behind me.
      “Do you have a phone I could borrow? I need to call my parents.”
      “Sweetie, I don’t think you’ll be able to reach your parents from here,” Cinda says as she gently grabs my arm.
      A deep feeling of dread spreads through me as I think about the fact that I’ve never seen a house like this anywhere near my neighborhood. Where am I?
      “I live in Lawrence, Kansas. How… far am I from there?”
      Cinda’s nose crinkles.
      “Thea,” she says.“I’m sorry, but you’re not in Kansas anymore. You’re Inbetween.”

 *Author's note: I am sorry this story doesn't have an ending. It is an idea I've had floating around in my head for a while and it turns out that it's much more book-shaped than short-story-shaped. If you guys like it (or know what it REALLY is, hee hee) let me know! I'd love to know if you would want to read a book like this. 

PHOTO BY: Bradley Mason/iStockphoto


  1. Love that bird, Stef and the nods to the Wizard of Oz. Some really great description going on here.

  2. Feels like a retelling of Wizard of Oz. The "lack" of an ending doesn't bother me, but pointing it out brings it to the forefront. I would have preferred the Inbetween being mentioned only once at the end for dramatic effect, but other than than, I liked it. Definitely sounds like it could be part of a larger element. Good job!

    1. Hee hee it is a Wizard of Oz retelling. I plan to turn it into a book someday. That's one of my favorite book series. :-)

  3. Definitely keep going! I enjoyed Thea being in the eye of the storm and the pacing is great! Gets right to the point. :-)

    I like the name Cinda! I agree, I think Inbetween may work better if Cinda says it at the end and leaves the convo intro at "Who sent you?" working Inbetween in later. Just a suggestion.

    I wonder if by looking at her (Cinda looking at Thea) she'd be able to tell immediately she's not in Inbetween? It makes me curious as to the world she's in and how much it differs if it does from contemporary Kansas.