Read a Sample: Ninth Ward

I press the power button and the screen lights up, and there he is, the sweaty weather man.
Mama Ya-Ya sits up further. I sit beside her, a pillow behind my back. At the bottom of the bed, Spot is lying on his back, his belly up. If we were watching Oprah, we’d be having a good time.
The weatherman says, “Katrina is headed directly for New Orleans. If you haven’t gotten out, buckle down. It’s going to be a wild ride. Perhaps devastating.”
I go to Mama Ya-Ya’s window. Peek between slats. The sun’s gone.. The moon is yellow. The wind is whistling.

“It’s coming,” I hear Mama Ya-Ya say,
I shiver. Tell myself not to be afraid. We’ll survive the hurricane.
Ghosts told me so.


I must’ve fallen asleep, because when I wake, Mama Ya-Ya has her hands thrown over her head and she is sleeping deeply. The lamp on the nightstand makes the room glow, seem unreal. Nothing’s moving. No mice—they skitter at night. Not even fat water bugs that come out when you turn down the lights.
Nothing. Silence, inside and out.
I swear I can’t hear a thing. No one’s having a party. No fighting, laughing, singing. No words drifting up from the porches. Nothing.
The quiet makes me think I’m going to die. Like Mother Nature has sucked up everything—all sounds, winds, human talk and cries. A VACUUM. ABSENCE OF MATTER.
I worry I’ll be sucked up, too.
But the silence doesn’t last.

 

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