"Well I wouldn't have asked out Mitzy if it hadn't been for blonde Southern Tucker, with his big swagger walk." And then Mitzy screamed: "I love you, Lewis! I just wanted to say, because of all this, I wanted you to know!" She did, screamed it right at him in the middle of the tornado. Glass breaking and metal bending, and Mitzy said I love you. I could have torn her head off and thrown it up into that God-finger stirring up our world, drenching us in rain and grocery store sauces-soy and mayonnaise and who knows what else-! could have, but I just gave Lewis a look, which I know he read right. I was telling him he'd really made a mess, hadn't he? I was saying, Ha, like to see you get out of this one. Both of us so angry I thought maybe we'd made that tornado up, maybe it was something we'd created with all that fierceness between us. "She's waiting," I said. I shouted over Lewis' shoulder so Mitzy could hear. He stared at me for a long second, eyes all dark, and then he turned to Mitzy. I could just see the edge of his face, jaw moving up and down. "Yeah?" he said. "Well, good. Because I love you, too." THE STORM WENT AWAY FAST, lifting off land and spinning itself away. The grocery store in Davidson, North Carolina was the only thing hit, the roof torn off and bottles and boxes and cartons of things strewn all the way across town. Dill would tell us later that he woke up with ketchup bottles and milk containers on his front lawn, wondering who had vandalized his house. In the silence after, no one moved. Or spoke. There were three breaths of stillness when the whole world paused. We looked around to make sure we were still alive. And then Mitzy turned to me and said, "I'm sorry, Susie," because she knew all along what she'd done, and she thought that now she and Lewis would run off together and get married, that this was just the beginning for them. "It's fine," I said. "You two have fun." I left them there in the grocery store and picked my way over the refuse. No one was hurt; everyone walked outside, stunned, looking up to make sure it was really gone. They pointed to the roof, whose metal beams were still turned up, crooked necks reaching for the sky. I got into Dill's gold SUV, which was only a little bit scratched, and drove through kudzu darkness all night, humming old church songs to myself and crying.
WHEN I FINALLY GOT BACK AT SIX IN THE MORNING, Dill was waiting at the counter of the Cushion Cafe, face in his hands, going, "What took you so long, Susie? Where did you go last night? I thought you'd been killed." He'd just learned about the tornado on the radio, how it had hit the grocery store 98
The Literary Digest of the University of Idaho