Last paragraph from below "Chapter 1":
She went out her front door, grabbed the bucket from the iron hook, and clucked to her chickens, “Tck tck tck, come on nasty things. Peck pecking at you own shit. Like you can’t even wait for me to come out here and feed you. Tck tck. Tck tck. You there, you’ll be my Sunday supper.” She let out a cackle, and the birds pecked away, dumb as they were they didn’t care between the feed, their own waste, and dirt. They just pecked and squawked. Clementine set the bucket back onto the hook, and made her way to Beauty. She’d named all her horses Beauty, since he’d given her the first one. He was on her mind too much this morning. Then while she stroked Beauty, she accidentally let the memories come on, just blow on through, like through the front door to the back door, but instead of blowing right on through, both doors closed and shut in the memories, where they swirled around like the tornado…
Clemmie listened to the howl of the wind. She wasn’t afraid. Much anyway. Before she’d gone to bed, Daddy said a storm was coming fierce, but then didn’t they live near by where it was named so? Mount Storm, with its lightening flashes blazing up the ridges to full light even in the darkest of nights. Clemmie’s momma didn’t like storms and always said she wanted to live in the valley, in a house that didn’t have woods all around it, one that she didn’t have to go down a mountain to get to town, and where she didn’t have to worry about a bear or a big cat or a wolf or some other creature bent on doing bad things to a human. Clemmie loved all the things her momma hated. She knew her momma was huddled up under the covers, with a pillow fast held to her head, probably crying, too. Clemmie never cried. It was silly.
A branch scraped against her windowpane and Clemmie rose from her soft bed to stare out into the night. She pretended Aaron had scratched at her window, calling to her. She imagined opening the window and there he’d be, wild looking, his hair stuck to his forehead, his lashes wet and clinging, he’d call her out to him, and she’d climb out the window, and they’d go running and laughing into the thrashing of the wind and rain, in the hot electric crash of lightening, and he’d kiss her, right on the lips and she wouldn’t be afraid of it, she’d take the kiss, taste the rain right from his mouth. She felt stubborn about it, mad that her age made these things impossible to her. She was old inside, had always been, that’s what her grandma said. Said, “Jest like me, ripe before you orter be.”
Blue-white flashes hit here, there, here, there. The sky boiled. Clemmie wondered if a tornado really was coming. Earlier, Daddy said tornados didn’t come to the mountains, but Clemmie’s grandma shook her head, said, “Them ternaders do too come to these here mountains. I seen ‘em, I been through it. One picked up my old dog and threw it five mile away. Din’t hurt it but one li’l scratchety place on its fore-paw. Yep, them ternaders come. They come.”
Daddy answered, “You and them stories, Ma.” He laughed and touched his momma’s soft white hair.
“Huh. Ain’t no stories. If’n I ever were to lie, I’d go straight on away to hell. Huh.”
“Ain’t no hell, either, Ma. Made up stories is all them is.”
Grandma’s face had pinched in and folded inside out and then turned red and purple. She reached up and smacked Daddy on the back of his head. “Donchoo blaspheme! I ain’t raised you that-a-way.”
Daddy just winked at Clemmie and went on out the door to fasten things down for the storm. She wondered though, about the tornados and about hell and about God and Jesus and all. Clemmie wondered all kinds of things.
Right then, Clemmie most wondered what Aaron was doing. If he was staring out of his window at the same time she was staring out of hers. When the lightening touched the ground, maybe his eyes went wide then narrow, wide then narrow, again and again, like her’s. He probably wasn’t thinking of her like she was thinking of him. He was fifteen and she was only twelve. He teased her all the time, tweaking her nose, pulling her hair, telling her she was dirty and stinky and girls shouldn’t be dirty and stinky. She pretended to be mad at him, since that made him tease her all the more, but really, inside, in the secret secret parts of herself that no one else ever saw, she loved him.
When her momma wasn’t feeling bad with a headache and didn’t need Clemmie to stay with her, Clemmie got up extra early to finish her chores, then lit out through the woods, down the long trails to the holler, slipping through the fence, crawling through the tall grass, and then hiding behind the big stump where the tree had once stood giant-tall with a trunk as big around as five or six Clemmie’s surrounding it arm to arm. That tree had been struck by a bolt of lightening so big and so hot, it tore the tree into pieces and left but the stump. A perfect place for her to hide behind to watch Aaron.
If he ever was to see her hiding there, he never let on, and she liked that in him. But, more she liked how he’d take off his shirt and his skin would be shiny from sweat, and his muscles would move like she’s never seen muscles move before, not even in her daddy, and her daddy was the strongest man in the world. Aaron’s hair was as dark as hers, and his eyes were darker. If she tried to look straight a-ways into his eyes, she’d feel a mite dizzy, as if she were falling into a dark pond that had no end, but where things swam unknown and mysterious, brushing up against her, knowing her in a way she didn’t know herself. Almost like when she swam in the hidden pond with all her clothes off, when no one was around to see her do it, and the water pressed against her. It made her shiver, from tip to toe.
Aaron worked the horse every day, and he was gentle with them, his big hands stroked them and they’d only flinch at first, just a little, as if flicking off a fly. He made clicking sounds as he led them round the little corral. They cocked their ears to him, even the wildest and meanest of horses gentled when they were with Aaron. People bought their animals to him when they were about to be done with them, and Aaron set them right so they wouldn’t be killed or sent off to who knows where bad animals go. It wasn’t just horses, but dogs and cows and bulls and mules and even wild things—all animals he had a touch with. The people would come fetch them back, their faces lit up with grins, slapping Aaron on the back and calling him special. She’d feel jealous when a girl would flutter their silly lashes at him, or stand too close, or tell him he sure was big and strong too handle such beasts—least that’s what that Mae-lynn always said. Mae-lynn was fourteen and she had things growing from her body that Clemmie didn’t have, and she wore dresses and ribbons that Clemmie didn’t wear. It made her face go hot just thinking about Mae-lynn’s pretty pale-white face compared next to Clemmie’s dirty darker face.
Clemmie left the window, her bones tired from the chores she’d done that day, but more from Momma’s cries. Sometimes the headaches got so bad that Clemmie was afraid her momma’s head would crack wide open and spill all her brains out. Grandma’s potion helped a little, most times. Daddy wrung his hands, his face wrinkled up with worry—the only time Clemmie ever saw Daddy look weakened was when Momma was ailing that way. Clemmie climbed back into bed and hoped the storm would soon pass before first light, and hoped Momma would be better, so that she could make her way to her Aaron.
She’d soon be older, just a few more years and she’d be old enough. She could wait. She was patient. One day Aaron would turn around, and there she’d be, a woman, and he being a man, he’d know. He’d know just what she had been waiting for. She’d stare into those eyes and fall right on in, find out what all was swimming against her.
Right before she fell asleep, she heard the piercing cry and right then and there, she knew a tornado really was coming…