After the Storm

By Michael Chin

The hurricane passed in rain and in wind that threw sand from the beach against our windows. But none of the windows ever gave and we only lost power for couple-minute spans, never for the long haul.

That next morning, the sun was shining. It was still windy, but not the kind of wind that would overturn a car or uproot a tree. The kind that would, at worst, mess up your hair, maybe pry loose one of the balloons outside the venue.

For on this day, my cousin was getting married and getting helium balloons from whatever grocery store or gas station we could find open was on the list of things that should have been done yesterday and would have to get done today, so the bride could tie them to the door outside the venue, so the guests would know where to come.

Uncle Ron was the first one outside. The last one who wanted to be outside yesterday, so he kept us from exploring what it would have been like to go outside on the beach in a tropical storm and from taking pictures. When the sun hit his face, he laughed out loud and fetched a kite from the back of his SUV, and though his kids, Devin and Ashley, told him he looked ridiculous, after he started running it back and forth in those winds, they couldn’t resist joining in and taking a couple runs themselves.

Last night, we’d had a makeshift version of the rehearsal dinner. The restaurant the bride had booked was closed even if we were going to go outside. Then, in the longest of the power outages, Mom brought all of the food in the fridge—that entirely excessive quantity of cold cuts and bread and baby carrots and pudding packs to be enough snacks for all our road trips and in case we shut in for days. Dad brought up the point that we had half the rehearsal dinner attendees there and more than enough food to feed us all, so why wouldn’t we soldier on with dinner with what we had? The power was back long before we’d finished unpacking the fridge, but we didn’t let that stop us. We had a feast of sandwiches and scrambled eggs and even those foods there was no need to finish off, like the potato chips and the cookies Aunt Jude baked that afternoon.

This morning, there was a rush on bathrooms, the lot of us needing to poop after over-eating the night before—even the bride got coaxed into eating a second helping, which turned to three or four or five. It was awkward for Devin, my sister Brynne, and I all lined up outside our bathroom until Devin acknowledge we were all waiting to drop a deuce, and then it was funny.

It was funny, too, to all be outside again. Though we’d come upon some downed power lines, a tree knocked down in one of the roads, there was nothing catastrophic now.

The bride had her lists. Handwritten now, condensed and reimagined from the records on her laptop. One list for my parents, Brynne, and me in our car—picking up those balloons and doughnuts for a late-night reception snack, two hours after they cut the cake. We’d all meet at the reception venue, where we were all assured there was plenty more to do. Already, the bride was frazzled again, the groom doing his best to answer questions about decoration specifics and drop off spots before the bride jumped in to correct him.

It would be a stressful morning, for sure. But we were all alive, all together, and the wedding would go on.

We drove off the beach on our over-inflated tires, windows all down. I put my hand out the window and let it ride the breeze for a bit, into town, and to the first of our stops. Thinking this was a good day. Thinking the storm had passed.

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Michael Chin

Michael Chin / About Author

Michael Chin was born and raised in Utica, New York and is an alum of Oregon State's MFA Program. He won Bayou Magazine's Jim Knudsen Editor’s Prize for fiction and has work published or forthcoming in journals including The Normal School, Passages North and Hobart. He works as a contributing editor for Moss. Find him online at miketchin.com or follow him on Twitter @miketchin.

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