Hurricane

Hurricane by Terry Trueman Read Free Book Online

Book: Hurricane by Terry Trueman Read Free Book Online
Authors: Terry Trueman
on Big Wheels?
    If I close my eyes, I can see the town exactly like it was, all the houses still here and all the people still alive.
    And now there are only three real houses: ours, the Rodríguezes’, and, just a little ways away, the Mendoza place, not a part of La Rupa before but a part of us now. I look closer at my friends and neighbors sitting with me: Carlos and Pablo Altunez, wearing filthy, mud-covered pajamas and mud-caked athletic shoes; Mr. Larios, fully dressed but not wearing shoes; and many others barefoot too, and coated or splattered in mud. Everyone sits staring at the floor or into space, silent, like ghosts. La Rupa isn’t gone, but I don’t know what it is.
    When I first started to learn English, I found that there isn’t one word that means both the people of a place and the place itself. In Spanish pueblo means “people” and “village,” and sometimes it even means “country.” There’s just one word for all of that.
    La Rupa, our pueblo, has to survive, because if it dies, my dad and brother and sister won’t have any place to come back to.
    La Rupa is not gone, not as long as any of us are still here.

FIVE

    In our backyard I get my first real look at the hillside. The mud came down right where the trees were clear-cut last year. Like I said before, our house is at the farthest edge of town, like the Rodríguez house, which just happened to be a few feet away from where the mud flowed. Our house was mostly missed by the mudslide too. What destroyed all the other houses would have taken us down too if we hadn’t been lucky. Why were we spared? Why was our house just out of the path of the mudslide? I wish there were a reason, but there isn’t one, nothing except dumb luck.
    There is an enormous boulder five or six feet from the back door of our house that was left by the mudslide. It must weigh tons. The bottom half of the boulder is covered in mud, but the top half was cleaned by the rain. It’s almost as tall as I am. It wasn’t there before.
    I look at our backyard and see the spot where Víctor and I stacked all the bricks the day he took down the old barbecue. Now those bricks are all over the yard, thrown around by the mud and knocked aside by this huge rock as if they were just tiny pebbles.
    I walk over to the corner of our backyard, mud up to my ankles. I stare out at what used to be La Rupa.
    For the first time since this all started, because no one is nearby, and especially because my brother Víctor is not here, I cry. I cry hard, letting everything out. My chest hurts and my ribs ache. My nose runs. I cry and cry, and as bad as it feels, it also feels good. It feels right to cry like this. Weird thoughts race through my brain: All my life I’ve been afraid of being weak, afraid even to let myself cry. As I weep now, though, I feel different. I’m not ashamed, not embarrassed. Tears stream down my cheeks and find their way into my mouth. These tears have a gritty taste to them. Crunchy tears, I think. In another moment I am laughing and crying at the same time. Finally I can’t cry anymore. I wipe my arm across my nose and rub my eyes with the heels of my hands to get rid of the last of my tears.
    I’ve spent my whole life looking up to Víctor and my dad, but they aren’t here. Dad and Víctor can’t help us. It’s up to me now. I know what I have to do and I can—I will —somehow do it.

SIX

    The radio announcer says, “The storm is over.”
    Over?
    Ha!
    Just the fact that the winds and rains have stopped doesn’t mean that anything is over. And here in La Rupa nothing is over. Everything is just starting. We have no drinking water at all, and no running water. We have no working toilets, no telephones and no electricity, and we are all alone.
    The battery-operated radio says that all across Honduras, and in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, parts of Guatemala, and even all

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