I feared the mostly-typical childhood litany, except there was always realism in the fantasy. No "monsters under the bed." These monsters were people. Always. Like the Christmas Eve I convinced myself that someone stood in the corner of my room with a gun. The weekend my parents went to Pittsburgh and a journal entry about boys hurriedly turned to a last will and testament as the upstairs creaked--clearly a sign of intruders.
After I started elementary school, I lost interest in all television besides the Weather Channel. My goodness. Vivaldi on the local weather forecast, perfectly timed with green doppler radar--the tropical storm update--disasters across the nation--really, a sunny day was a meteorogical yawn.
Tornadoes fascinated me. The beeping red warning at the bottom of the screen. The sudden plunge from black sky. The relentless, unpredictable race over the land. I knew the proper procedure: hide one's self in the basement, a bathub, a room in the center of the house without windows (which our house did not have). Bring a battery-operated radio, flashlight, water, pillows, blankets. Thousands of miles away from Tornado Alley, I was prepared.
But then the tornadoes followed me into my dreams.
I forgot those nightmares until I had one the other day. The funnel cloud down the road and my stomach drops. I turn for the basement but my legs won't move fast enough, the windows won't hold, the words won't sound.
In Technical Writing, I made a brochure for a fake tornado chasing club, Storm Sleuths, that included an artfully faded photo of a twister and a little Live--forces pulling from the center of the earth again. And that's where I prefer my tornadoes these days: gray scale and folded. Far away from bathroom tubs, basement windows, dreams.