The album filled with pictures from her childhood had to be somewhere handy. She would always bring it out when her children visited and now it was nowhere to be seen. She looked for it beneath the sofa, inside very shelf and drawer and even on the small and cramped space above the house that people called an attic but it was not as big as she thought an attic should be. She had to bring out a stick to bring down the stairs and at her age it was not an easy thing to do.
Liz was her name and she had never been too fond of her name. Her mother had named her after Queen Elizabeth and her father had agreed. She would always ask her dad why he had let that happened and he never thought she was speaking seriously. The truth was that Liz didn’t feel anything like a queen, specially living in such a secluded place, when most people didn’t even care about such things. She would have wanted a simpler name, a more normal one in a way.
Finally, she found the album behind a big chair near the curtain. It was right then when the wind broke the glass and she was forced to duck down, scared a big piece would cut her face or any part of her body. After all, Liz was all alone in that house and the only way to get to a shelter was to go down the road towards the town, where a big sports venue had been built more to shelter people when hurricanes happened than for hosting sporting events, rare in the island.
When she realized the glass had fallen far from her body, Liz stood up and decided it was time to get into the car. The keys were on the dining table, next to her jacket. It was a bright yellow jacket, which came with a hat of the same color. Her niece had bought it for her in a big fancy store in New York and she had to accept it in order not to make her sad. The truth was that Liz had never liked yellow but with that rain, the jacket had finally become pertinent in her small world.
Before heading outside, she stood up in the middle of her living room, looking around, trying to remember if she had left something. There was a backpack with some clothes in the car, along with Jim, an orange cat that had accompanied her for the last three years. Besides that, she had her album beneath the jacket, to protect it from the water, and she was closing her right hand around the car keys. She then realized that, maybe; she would never see her home ever again. That realization sunk her heart a bit but her feet suddenly moved.
Moments later, she was shaking her gray her in the car and Jim was meowing like crazy. He was sitting in the copilot’s seat and he seemed to be a bit scared of the storm. Honestly, it was much stronger that what Liz had predicted. The wind was moving the car, so it felt as if she was in the middle of an earthquake. On the windshield, lots of water was pouring down. It was impossible to see beyond the car’s hood. The lights of the town were nowhere to be seen and the sun had been lost.
Nevertheless, Liz turned on the ignition and started moving her car very slowly down the road. It had been a great idea by her son Richard to pave the road all the way down to the village. They had made a big garage sale and with the money they had managed to fix the access to the house. It was one of those things George had always hated about living right there, far from his beloved ocean. But the properties down there could only be afford by the wealthy and they weren’t any of that.
It had been George who had discovered the island, in a way. He had been there while doing business and he had fallen in love with birds and the ocean and the lush green soft hills all over the place. When he visited, the island only had a couple hundred people living in it. His insurance business could do great with things like hurricanes. Liz laughed when remembering that, she thought the irony of him never seen such a storm living there having insured the whole island was just too funny.
Maybe too funny indeed because it was right then when she accidentally stepped on the accelerator and the car when downhill fast for a few meters before she could react properly and hit the breaks. When the car stopped, Liz was very scared and Jim was meowing even more than before. But she wasn’t afraid of the storm. She had lived through others after her husband had died. The thing was that she was certain to have seen a man outside, through the windshield, before pushing the brakes.
It was getting darker outside and Liz didn’t dare to step outside the car and check if everything was right, if it was her eyes that were creating mirages in front of her or if something had actually happened. Jim fell silent and that for Liz was louder than an alarm. She put on her hat again and opened the door, letting in lots of water and wind into the car. Jim didn’t say anything; he seemed to be too preoccupied for that. Liz was about to close the car door when she felt something on the pavement. She screamed the moment a hand grabbed her left ankle.
But it wasn’t a zombie or anything of the sort. It was a man, a black skinned man, much younger than her. He was very weak and his hand soon fell to the floor from her ankle. Liz kneeled in front of him and touched his face. He was very cold and it was obvious he had been outside for too long. Maybe he was extremely sick. There was no one near and screaming didn’t help at all. The wind was howling much too hard for anyone to notice her, even if they were close.
Liz grabbed the man’s face again and she gently patted her cheeks. Seeing nothing happened, she slapped him harder. The man opened his eyes and he started mumbling but nothing made sense. There was no reason for him been there, unless he had gotten lost in the storm. Maybe he had left his house after the rest of his family and then he had just lost track of them in the storm. No one, not even the youngest person, could ever see a thing or two with all that rain, haze and wind.
The older woman decided to do the only thing that made sense. She opened one of the back doors or her car and then grabbed the man by the armpits. She pulled as much as she could. It took her a while to get him close to the door. Then she slapped him again and managed to make him help her, by raising his waist a little bit. That was enough to get him in the car. She pushed his body gently by closing the door and then she hopped on the vehicle, all wet. Liz had lost her hat and she hadn’t realized.
It was easier to go up that road backwards, than moving down. She knows that at full speed, she would be back home in less than a minute. Liz stopped the car right before she hit her house. Jim had jumped to the back seat and had helped by keeping the man awake, although he kept trying to talk, as if he was in the middle of a very deep dream. Urged by the situation, Liz grabbed the man by an arm and took him to the house. Jim followed, unbothered by the rain. The car had been left open.
Liz left the man in the small room beneath the stairs. He would be safe there. She would hide in a tiny cellar that her husband had built beneath the kitchen to keep his wine bottles cold. She took the bottles out and snuggled with Jim in the cramped space.
Few minutes had passed when she heard a horrible noise, as if a tree had been pulled out of the ground. It was awful. She closed her eyes in horror. But instead of remembering something comforting, she reminded herself of the album she had left in the car. Her memories were gone.