I was warming up for police training at a church recreational center on Virginia’s coast. There were nearly 100 of us there, all dressed in gray and navy, doing jumping jacks and anticipating the events of the day.
The sky was overcast through the large, south-facing windows, built high into the wall of the gymnasium. Someone shouted. The wind picked up in a cacophonous symphony of howls and rustling sand. My eyes grew wide in terror: an enormous tornado was headed toward the building. We sat down, some huddled together, myself apart from the group, knowing that following a safety procedure at this point was futile.
The tornado passed the building then, barring our view of the coastline for a few minutes. From the windows in the northern wall, I saw a girl in a red cape running, but it was too late. She was swept up as the winds racked and swayed the tall grass between our building and the church sanctuary. It tore through the sanctuary, demolishing the eastern wall.
I knew that it was bound to head inland, toward Daniel. I texted him:
“I hope you survive. It’s headed your way. Know that I love you very much.”
As I hit send, the howling I’d endured for close to a half hour stopped suddenly, giving way to eerie silence. The stillness was interrupted only by the sound of my heart beating furiously, high on adrenaline.
And then I woke up, convinced my dream had been prophetic, convinced the end was nigh. After several minutes of lying there, overheated and frozen in fear, I woke up Daniel, told him I was afraid, and snuggled into his side, thankful for him, thankful we were both together and alive.
*photo found here