When the dust cloud appears down the road, we know they are coming.
My mother and I see the hazy dust plume at the same time. The potato peeler slips out of her hand and clatters on the porch floor, startling us both. I glance at the cloud kicked up by dozens of approaching tires and then back to my mother. There's no mistaking it. The fear is written across her face.
“Where's Ethan?” she asks. Her rocking chair scrapes against the porch floorboards as she stands. She doesn't wait for my answer. She yanks open the screen door, that jangles wide to let her in, and runs into the house yelling for my brother.
The advance of the dust cloud has me riveted. My morbid curiosity holds me on the porch for a few seconds. Then I hear my mother's frantic voice.
“Jesse, the storm cellar! Now!”
I go. Even morbid curiosity can't keep me when my mother's voice sounds so desperate.
I run into the house and pass my step-father, Arn, standing at the pitted kitchen table. He loads his hunting rifle, his tanned face contorted in concentration. Two shotguns rest on the table where we just ate our lunch. As I run past, he snags my arm.
“Take this.” He gravely hands me a pistol.
The silver revolver is heavy and solid in my hands. It isn't the first time I've held a pistol, but it is the first time he's offered me one in self-defense. I look up at him with wide eyes.
“You remember what I taught you?”