A Short Story - The Tornado

December 14, 2020

Robbie was on his hands and knees crawling through the backyard with his gaze intent on something in the grass. The knees of his white dress pants were turning green from the dark green grass he was dragging his knees through. The toes of his best shoes had already turned green. But whatever had his attention had all of it and nothing was going to distract him from it.

"Robbie! Where are you? We have to get going!" shouted his mother, Abby, in the house and hurrying to get everything ready for the day at his cousin's house and his cousin's wedding.

"Robbie! Robbie! Come on! Let's get going!" She was rushing room to room in the house and not finding Robbie anywhere, unaware that he was busy following something much more interesting in the grass in the backyard.

"Mom, let's go! We'll be late," said Julia, Robbie's sister. She didn't want to be late for her cousin's wedding, this was something she'd been looking forward to for months.

"We will, sweetie, where's your brother? I can't find him," Abby said while looking in the pantry.

"I don't know, was it my turn to keep an on him?" Julia spat back unintentionally harsh.

"Julia, that wasn't necessary, now go outside and see if you can find him," Abby was now looking in the garage.

"Oh, jeez! Mom! He's in the backyard crawling around in the grass! And his pants are all dirty and stained. Great! I can't believe it! Now we'll be late, for sure! Hey! Robbie, get your little butt in here right now!" Julia shouted at him, but he ignored his big sister just as he usually did. "Robbie!" Julia walked out to him, grabbed him by the collar of his shirt, yanked him up onto his feet, and started to drag him into the house.

Abby couldn't believe what she saw when she finally saw him being dragged into the house, "Robby! Look at your clothes! You've probably ruined your pants! Dear lord, Robby, what were you doing? Now go into your room and change you pants. Put on the white pants, do you hear me?"

Robbie walked nonchalantly down the hall and into his room, "Yes, Mom, I hear you."

Julia yelled at him, "Hurry up you little urchin!"

A minute later Robbie made it to the front door to his waiting mother and sister, wearing black jeans.

Abby looked at him and threw her hands up, "I give up, Robbie, you're impossible! Now go get in the car, and don't touch anything on your way there."

Robbie bounced down the three steps and across the yard dragging his hands through the hedge on his way to the car. Then he wiped his hands on his shirt, dragging dirt across the front. He got into the car and the other hadn't noticed this new mess.

When they arrived at their cousin's house and got out of the car Robbies Aunt Mary met them at the curb and the first thing she noticed was Robbie's shirt, "Robbie, what do you have all over your shirt?"

"Oh, nothing much," was all he said as he ran to the house to find his cousins to play with.

Aunt Mary gave hugs to Abby and Julia, and said, "I'm so glad you could make it, come in!"

The younger children were in the backyard playing, the older kids disappeared into the basement to play video games, and the adults mingled and drank, ate and gossiped.

Then it was time for the wedding. It was to be a small ceremony in the backyard.

But the little kids were in the backyard playing. The backyard was quite large, but with 7 kids playing it wasn't large enough.

One side of the yard was decorated for the wedding - rows of white chairs, a white runner down the center aisle, lined with flowers of every color, leading up to the gazebo. There were light curtains on the sides of the gazebo, and more flowers hanging down the sides and lining the floor. At the beginning end of the white runner was an arbor fully enveloped in white flowers.

While the adults were busy mingling and the teens busy gaming the children were busy doing what children do, generally causing mayhem. And this particular environment gave them lots of opportunity to do just that.

Angus, one of Robbies cousins, started, "Hey, let's play hide-n-seek!" And he was the first to be 'it' and so he started counting to 50. The other children were taking hiding places among the chairs, the gazebo, one tried to crawl under one side of the arbor. He didn't quite fit under there.

Angus yelled, "Here I come!" and away he went! Chasing after the other kids, pushing aside a table with a white clothe to find one little girl, then he ran through the chairs, like a bull in a china shop, and found another of the youngsters trying to hide under two chairs. While he was tagging him the one under the arbor tried to jump out and run to safety but in doing so managed to knock the arbor down, and it crashed over the nearby chairs. Before long the last of the kids were either found or safe back at the base.

This time it was Rosa's turn to be 'it'. She counted to 50. The others quickly found hiding places, most of which were within the wedding area. It wasn't long before just about every row of chairs was no longer in straight rows. Some of the light curtains laying on the ground around the gazebo, and flowers scattered all over the yard.

Rosa gave up and yelled out, "Tag! Let's play tag!"

And then the others came running out of their hiding places and starting running around Rosa, teasing her and tempting her to tag them, and scattering chairs in every direction.

One of the parents inside thought he heard too much noise from the backyard so he excused himself from the others and went to look out the kitchen window, and stood there in shock at the sight of 7 children running amock making a shambles of the chairs and, well, everything.

He called out to the other parents, "Hey, you guys, you gotta see this!"

He swung open the dining room French doors and all the parents stepped outside, then stopped and started at the disaster that looked like a tornado had blown through the backyard.

Abby immediately yelled, "Angus! Angus! Get over here, right now!"

Angus said, "Mommy, I didn't do anything".

Ron yelled, "Rosa! Rosa, get your little butt over here!" Rosa walked up to her father, her head hanging down in shame.

Another parent yelled for her kid, and another, and another, until all the children had been rounded up and corralled in the living room.

By now the teens had gotten wind of something exciting happening upstairs and they all went up to see what the ruckus was about. When they saw the backyard a couple of the younger teens couldn't help but laugh, then immediately stopped when they received some very bad looks from their parents.

Aunt Mary started to cry. Julia's cousin Deborah, the blushing bride, was now the color best described as furious red.

The men walked out into the yard and started untangling chairs, light strings, flower strings, and the runner. Several of the mothers also came out to help.

The children were guarded by two moms and a dad in one room with nothing to play with, no TV, no video anything. They were sitting on the floor in a circle with only one thing to do - look at each other and think about what they had all done. In total silence. There wasn't a smile to be had.

It took only an hour or so and the men and a couple of the women had the disaster returned to some semblance of what it was supposed to be.

Aunt Mary announced, "It'll have to do," as she gazed at the rows of chairs, many of which were not exactly in their original shape; the arbor which was missing it's strings of flowers; the gazebo with only about half of the light strings left hanging on the sides.

Cousin Deborah cried, "Mom, it's a disaster. My wedding is a disaster," she cried on her mother's shoulder.

"I know it's not perfect, sweetheart, but what can we do?" asked Aunt Mary.

Julia hugged her cousin and said, "Those kids are monsters, we know that, but it's going to be a beautiful wedding anyway. Don't let those little brats ruin your day, okay? We need to focus on you, make this the best day possible for you."

"I love you, Julia," said Deborah, "You're better than a best friend."

About twenty minutes later the groom, Richard, arrived with his father. His mother and sister were already at the house and had helped in setting everything up in the morning, and again, now.

Richard was met in the front yard by Deborah, "Oh Richard! I'm so glad you're here!" She kissed him many times, and started to cry and help onto him so tight he almost couldn't breath.

"What's the matter, babe? Are you okay? Did something happen?" Richard asked.

Richard's sister, Anne, blurted out, "Did something happen? Damn yes something happened! Those stupid brats! They ruined everything!" Right then their mother took Anne by the hand and led her back into the house where they sat down and Anne cried on her mother's shoulder.

"What happened? The kids did what?" Asked Michael, Richard's father.

"Come on, we'll show you," said Julia.

On the way to the backyard Julia and Aunt Mary brought the two men up to date on the happenings.

Upon seeing the carnage that used to be the wedding ceremony Michael asked, "Wasn't anybody out here with the children?"

"Well, apparently, we thought the older kids were with the younger ones, and the teens thought there were adults watching the kids, and it turns out nobody was with them," said one of the other mothers.

Richard said, "Wow, um, it looks like you cleaned it up pretty good, considering it was hit by a hurricane, or a tornado, or a rampage of kids".

There was a moment of silence among the little group standing together looking at the scene before them, then they all broke out in laughter.

The women inside the house looked at them like they were crazy, "What's so funny? There's nothing funny about what happened! How can you laugh at that? Look at it! It's a disaster!"

One of them replied, "Yeah, looks like a rampage of kids passed through".

The women started to take that in, the image of those children going wild out there in all that white, white everything, and what they must have thought.

Eventually the wedding proceeded and it went perfectly. Well, almost perfectly, there were two chairs that collapsed under the people who sat in them, one of which was the bride's mother, Aunt Mary. She hit the ground with a thud, the minister stopped, everyone looked at her, and she did the only thing she could do - cross her legs, rest her hands on her knees, smile, laugh a little, and give the minister a smile and a nod.

And of course, throughout this entire afternoon of fun and frollicking the photographer had been quietly snapping photos of everything that happened. She even got a few pics of the child-tornado that blew through the backyard.

When it was all over someone asked, "Hey, where'r the children?"

Panic suddenly hit them all with thoughts of a house destroyed from the inside. Two of the moms ran into the house, it was clean and in order. They hurried down the hall and opened the door into the room where they were all still in a circle, only now they were all sleeping.