Why I Wear a Watch
“Why do you even wear that stupid thing?”
I follow Chester’s glare to the watch on my wrist. I ceremoniously fidget with the plastic strap, giving an unapologetic smirk. “I think it’s very becoming.”
Chester grunts, a mixture of disbelief and amusement coursing towards me. “Becoming, eh?” He gives the watch a close inspection, then grandly takes a step back to take in my entire figure. He shakes his head sadly, informing me that he doesn’t see it. His mocking only receives my smile, now stretching wider than before.
“Jealous?” Is my smart inquisition, but Chester is already onto new subjects. He shoves me roughly, shouting, “Race ya!” Our decomposing shoes unsettle the dust, and our silhouettes parry the attack on our eyes and mouth. Yet we lose, as the dust blinds us and grows thick and full on our tongues. We stop short to self medicate, our light tears and aggressive spitting which would assumingly be hilarious to a watching stranger.
We glance at each other and catch a fit of giggles, seeing the other crying, with brown spittal handing on his chin. Our uproar of laughter rolls across the flat plains, dry and empty and a little lonely. Chester throws his arm carelessly around my shoulder, and we pretend to be drunkards matching long, wide, outrageous strides.
Missouri’s dust continues to swirl around our ankles as the wind picks up. Chester and I look back at the same time. In the distance, against the setting sun, a twister is forming.
“Run, run, run!” Chester shouts. We break our drunken strides and bolt down the road. But we’re a mile out from our homes.
“We’re not going to make it!” I shout. The wind is picking up, as it tangles our hair and throws dust back into our faces. The tornado behind us takes strength and begins creeping towards us.
“Over here!” Chester yells. He points, and I see what his attention has focused on. A red truck sits on the side of the road. A man holds the door open, wildly motioning for us to climb in. Chester reaches the truck first. He nose dives into the front seat, and I follow shortly after. The man struggles with the door after us. The wind pulls and tugs, but the man has real muscle, and Chester and I watch as the stranger wins the wrestle and slams the car door closed.
“Lock the doors!” The stranger shouts. Chester and I glance at each other. We don’t know if storms can unlock doors, but the stranger must know what he is doing. Chester locks his door quickly and the three of us turn in the seat to watch the twister approach from the back window.
“You boys ok?” The man asks as we watch the twister twirl closer and closer to us.
“Yes sir,” we respond. The man nods and we are forced into silence as the sound of dust against the car grows to an unbearable volume. The wind screeches, the sky is yelling. God is walking in the tornado towards us. I can see His figure. He reaches for the car. My ears pop as He consumes us. I look at my watch. I need something, anything other than the horrors to pay attention to.
God consumed us at 8:47 today.
“Are we going to get carried away by God?” Chester screams to the man. I guess Chester saw God too. We look to the man beside us, surprised to see him as cool as a cucumber.
“No boys.There ain’t no God here. This is Mother Nature, coming to say hello.”
Chester and I are in no state to argue. At 8:48, Mother Nature knocks at the door.
“Was that Mother Nature?” I yell, panicked with the image of a large dust woman outside the window, knocking for entrance.
“We love Mother Nature, but she ain’t coming in today.” The man laughs, like a mad dog. Chester shoots me a look, a question as to whether it’s safer to be in a truck with a mad man or to be in the stomach of Mother Nature. I give him a duh look, and he glances out his window.
At 8:50, Mother Nature gets impatient, and lifts the truck one wheel off the ground.
Chester and I are screaming. All we can see is Dorthy, being taken away in her uprooted house to Oz. But the man is just laughing. He pats the window on his side, like it’s Mother Nature Herself, and shouts, “Come on there, girlie. You go on and put us down.”
At 8:51, Mother Nature puts us down.
Mother Nature has calmed a bit, and Chester and I realize we have been gripping each other’s hands. We release each other and avoid eye contact for a full minute.
For all of 8:52, we are silent watchers, examining the piles of dust, the gray pulls of wind. The skirts of Mother Nature are swirling around us.
Mother Nature spits us out at 8:55, or more like finishes her walk through us. Like a ghost, she has passed through us and continues on her way.
The man doesn’t let us out until 9:02. We wave our thanks to him, and he watches us for awhile as we follow in the wake of Mother Nature. Chester and I drag our feet, glancing at the uprooted shrubs and wisty sky.
I bump Chester’s shoulder by accident in the sway of my stride. We make eye contact, and for a moment we just stare. But he splits a smile and I do too.
“Chester, we were in that twister for a full eight minutes!”
Chester laughs as he glances at my watch. “Is that why you wear that thing? To keep exact count of our adventures?”
I sling my arm around his shoulder. “Yea. That’s why I wear a watch.”