Grandma appears in the doorway.
“We must go to the cellar”, she excitedly announces.
I am plucked up and placed in front of an open door that leads down into the ground, into darkness.
Mom whispers in my ear “Go inside and save us a seat on the benches. I’ll be right back.”
In the stillness of the hot air, I shiver. A damp, musty smell rises up from the cellar reminding me of mother’s request. I peer into the darkness and slowly creep down a step or two. Images race through my mind of bugs, insects, and snakes! These live underground. I notice the wide, wooden benches along each wall as my eyes adjust to the darkness. I bolt down the next few steps and run to the corner quickly placing my doll where the benches meet.
Next, I race back up the steps and see mom and grandma approaching with their arms filled with bundles. Before being seen, I bravely dive back into my reserved corner.
The concrete walls are cold and rough as my back brushes up against the surface. I wrap myself and Liza, my doll, in a crocheted blanket that is handed to me. The wind begins to howl outside.
Dad and some other men from the neighborhood close and latch the door. The room is suddenly dark. I close my eyes and hold my breath, expecting the tickle of bugs upon my skin.
Mom nudges me, “We are safe now, open your eyes.”
Light fills the room from lanterns hanging on the wall, but the storm roars outside, while prying at the bolted door which thuds up and down against the concrete. I watch in fear. The storm wails and screams realizing it cannot enter.
Some water from the door swirls around the small grate in the floor. I pull my legs up tighter to my body under the blanket and close my eyes again while also covering my ears, hoping to shut out the scream of the storm.
I am startled by the soft touch of grandma. “Here is something to eat dear, I’ll fetch you a drink.”
I gobble down warm ham and fresh bread. Grandma returns with a small jar of apple cider. I follow her into the next underground room and observe rows and rows of various sized jars arranged in a display of mottled greens and reds. I have helped her clean small jars, like the one I’m holding.
“We have to wait a little longer, dear. More storms are coming.” Grandma says while busily preparing more sandwiches.
Mom reappears handing me a small pillow that I sit on while I enjoy some strawberry jam. The aroma of warm ham, fresh bread, and sweets fill the air as the men return and bolt the door again. The next storm rages outside; however, content with my surroundings, I fall sound asleep on my pillow with my crocheted blanket and Liza, my doll.