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1st Place Personal Narrative: Vitaly Gerasimchuk

On a cool, silent, August morning, the sky looked a lot darker than usual. Instead of the usual beams of sunlight peeking through my window, I only received a dull glow from the blanket of clouds covering the sky. My blue eyes glanced at the floor and noticed an empty, blaze orange sleeping bag. I surmised that my 9 year old cousin, Aiden, had already gotten up. My 13 year-old self rolled over to the empty screen of my alarm clock. Great. That meant that I had to crawl out of bed, struggle to the door, and check the clock in the hallway. After a few pep-talks, I managed to get out of bed and to the door. As I opened the door, I noticed that the rest of my house was completely devoid of light. My family seemed to have made a practice of turning on every light we physically had, even when during broad daylight. Naturally, I was quite surprised to find that this wasn't the case this morning. My family scrambled around the kitchen. My mother, 7 months pregnant at the time, tried to figure out how she would get her next fix of coffee while my dad calculated how long the food in the fridge would last. Aiden sat at the table, informing my parents that he felt hungry, in case they had forgotten within the last 30 seconds. When he saw me, he filled me in on the situation. "So, what's for breakfast?" I queried. "Nothing. At least nothing in the house,"Aiden replied. "What? Why?" Supposedly, the power went during the night (Where it went, I have no idea, but it definitely avoided our house) and we wouldn't be able to make any pancakes or waffles. When I mentioned cereal, my father vigorously shook his head. "No cereal,"he stated. "Why not?" Aiden and I both asked. "There's no power running through the fridge and I don't want the cold air to escape so you can't open the door." Dad explained, rather adamantly. Although we didn't see the harm in opening the fridge a couple of times, Dad wouldn't budge on the subject so Aiden and I gave up. A question occurred to me. Why was the power out in the first place? As I contemplated the possible reasons for such an accident, I suddenly recalled the events of the previous night. My dad shook my Aiden and me awake in the middle of the night. Through the howling of the wind outside, he ordered the both of us to go downstairs. "There's a storm; a tornado" Dad explained between jagged breaths. "Then why aren't there any sirens or alarms?" I questioned, rather groggily, trying to think of a reason to not leave my bed. "I don't know, but we need to go downstairs now!" While my parents seemed to be very concerned, I on the other hand, only cared about sleeping and felt quite annoyed that someone had interrupted one of my favorite activities. Alas, my cousin obeyed and arose from his sleeping bag on the floor so I decided to follow suit and got up from my bed to follow him, and the rest of my family, to the basement. As I lumbered down the stairs through squinted eyes, I noticed an intense brightness from the windows. Although it was 1:00 A.M. and should have been completely dark outside, lightning flashed so bright and often it seemed as if someone in the sky had decided to start flicking the lights on and off. My brain, of course, did not care whatsoever about the lightning or tornado and I promptly fell asleep after sprawling out on the basement couch, only to be reawakened an hour later when my parents told me and my cousin that we could go back to my room. The events of the previous night came back to me in a surge of memory and I rushed outside to check out the devastation. After a quick survey of the front and back yard, I felt pleased to find out that no harm had come to my home or the property, meaning that I had less work to do. Only a large branch and a multitude of twigs and leaves had fallen down on the lawn and ,although they were a pain for my cousin and me to pick up, we managed to tidy up the lawn within a reasonably small amount of time. The real surprise came when my whole family decided to take a drive down the street. The town was in complete disarray. Electrical lines were snapped in half. Walls had fallen off of people's houses, creating an opening that made them look similar to dollhouses. Our neighbor had a tree lodged into their front window, like a marshmallow pierced with a prong. As we drove around, we saw more unique spectacles. A canoe on someone's roof, a large gas stations sign impaling a truck, a trampoline wrapped around a tree like a coil of rope. It seemed so unnatural, so unreal, so unexpected, that I wondered if I was actually still asleep. Unfortunately, the display that I saw had no fabrication whatsoever. As it so happens, that night was the first night that my younger cousin had slept over in several years. His reaction to these events was complete disbelief. "Does stuff like this happen all the time here?"he asked. "No. This is the first time something this serious has happened since we started living here," my father replied. "Why are you asking?" I questioned. "Because I'm not sure if I really want to sleep over anymore," he responded.