When I wake up it is my birthday. Mom and Dad aren’t there, but I hear their voices, so I walk down. They are standing at the front window. They don’t hear me. I look out the window. I feel like I got up too early. Nothing looks right. The cars are upside down. The tree in front of our garage is lying on the ground and everything is shiny like it just took a bath.

Dad notices me for the first time. He kisses my cheek. With red eyes he tells me happy birthday. My parents’ eyes are focused outside, checking their phones frequently. It’s dark outside. Finally their phones buzz. We go outside. It’s safe now. Dad puts my yellow raincoat on me. Outside smells like the ocean, in a way that hurts my stomach. The bats are gone from the doorway. People are coming out of their houses, touching the puffy paint and dark line on the front of their houses higher than my head. All the houses on our street are normal, mostly. There is a deck that is just sticks. A lady sits on a cracked tree with her hands on her cheeks, looking out with no emotions.

The houses are crumpled. The boardwalk looks like someone picked it up and twisted it around. The water looks like a bath now. 

People are moving water from basements with buckets. I see a skull on the ground. I feel a scream coming up from my stomach. Dad leans down to me and says, “It’s just Halloween decorations, Caroline.” And the scream stays in my neck.

More Halloween decorations have fallen all around and they look scary. We walk on a ghost-looking wet wedding dress, hung up in someone’s gutter on a white hanger.

Back at our house, mom lights a birthday candle, and sticks it in some of the ice cream that is melting from the freezer and sings happy birthday. Then we all go sit on someone else’s porch furniture that’s blown onto our lawn, and watch the red sunset.

3.7 3 votes
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Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe(@eric-radcliffe)
2 years ago

Hello, Musing Mind, scary doesn’t have to be all horror, and I liked the way that you showed this. Nothing more scary than a storm on Halloween. Well written.

Culture Dragon
Culture Dragon(@culture-dragon)
Reply to  Eric Radcliffe
1 year ago

Hi, Musing Mind – I agree wholeheartedly with Avatar Eric Radcliffe when he says “scary doesn’t have to be all horror”. Some very scary scenes come to mind that are not all horror or bloodshed. You have done a great job on this, and we hope you will write more new stories. Happy New Year!
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Katy Bizi
Katy Bizi(@katy-bizi)
Reply to  Eric Radcliffe
1 year ago

That’s a good point, Eric. A story doesn’t have to be about blood or pure horror to be scary. And I think that Musing Mind’s story proves just that.

Sandra James
Sandra James(@sandra-james)
2 years ago

One can only imagine how terrifying and surreal it would be if you’ve never been through a hurricane (and I’m glad I haven’t!). Beautifully written and portrayed. I especially like the ‘it’s just Halloween decoration, Caroline’ amid all the mayhem.

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Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary(@carrie-oleary)
2 years ago

Congratulations, very well done. A nightmare situation indeed, and very difficult for a child to deal with. I enjoyed the lighter bit about the candles in the melting ice cream at the end.

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Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe(@eric-radcliffe)
2 years ago

Congratulations Musing Mind on your Placing, I bet You are feeling so Proud. – Eric.

Tejal Doshi
Tejal Doshi(@tejal-doshi)
1 year ago

Your story really puts me in Caroline’s head, and I love how this one is written! “And the scream stays in my neck” especially stood out to me.

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Andrew Carter
Andrew Carter(@andrew-carter)
1 year ago

Hello, Musing Mind. Wow, this story blew me away. The descriptiveness of the aftermath is brilliant. It reminded of cyclones I’ve experienced in Cooktown, Australia. Hurricane Sandy must have had such intense power, and I love how you have captured the reality.

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Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
1 year ago

This is a mind-blowing story and a beautifully written one. Congratulations on your win.

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