The storm, when it comes, is a storm of teenage girls.
Teenage girls in miniskirts, teenage girls in strategically ripped jeans, in ill-fitting yoga pants. Teenage girls texting, taking selfies as they fall. Teenage girls taking the best picture ever.
We can hear the chatter of their voices in the moments before they strike the ground or the rooves. One of them gets hung up on the fencepost outside the Catholic church, another draped over Mr. Schmiedeskamp’s old Studebaker. Some of them are singing.
After the storm, we’ll be the most famous town in the world for a few days. The media will use the word deluge to describe the storm. The girls from the storm will remain unclaimed, dazed. Some of them will be scooped up in Jimmy Kuykendall’s roadkill truck and disposed of properly. Others will stumble round the town on broken ankles. The media will try to interview the girls from the storm, putting microphones into their stuttering faces.
I’m fine, the storm girls will say. How’s my makeup?
Leonard from down the street will fall in love with one of the storm girls, one with curly red hair and a broken smartphone. When he takes her to the local diner for a hamburger, she’ll stare at the cracked screen whenever he speaks. She’ll accept his declarations of love with a bemused smile.
She’ll say: Sure, Leonard. I love you too. Sure, let’s get married.
By the time the wedding takes place, the media will have forgotten all about us and the storm girls, who will have settled quietly into the town, sleeping in spare bedrooms or converted garages like foreign exchange students, like guests. They’ll dress in the clothing that has been donated for them, oversized tee-shirts and undersized jeans. We will all wonder: Are they wearing underwear?
They will go, sometimes, to the makeshift hospital in the high school cafeteria where the injured storm girls have been taken, and hold their hands, and sing them songs from the day of the storm, songs they can’t remember where they heard, songs that are the best ever. The injured storm girls, wrapped in bandages, will say: OMG. What a great song.
All of the storm girls will come to the wedding. Two of them will be in wheelchairs and five on crutches. One will be blind, tears seeping from her sightless eyes. Another will lead her by the hand. They’ll be seated on the bride’s side in borrowed dresses.
The media will return to town for the event, make us famous again for a day. The media will drag their cameras into the Lutheran church and sit, knees quivering, in the back row. Leonard’s mother will get caught smoking a cigar in the church bathroom, and her photograph will become, briefly, a social media sensation. She’ll be called Cigar smokin’ Mama.
At the altar, Leonard will slip the ring onto his storm girl’s finger. She’ll clutch her broken phone in the other hand. When the minister asks, she’ll say: sure, I do, sure, and Leonard will kiss her so hard the phone will slip out of her hand and crash to the floor, and the storm girls will begin to cry.
After the storm, there is a rainbow, arched and vibrant. We have never seen another rainbow like it. We never will again.
Cathy Ulrich is a writer from Montana. Her work has been published in a variety of journals, including Wild Hunt, Split Lip Magazine and (b)OINK.
Best story ever.