It’s become a thing. Really. It never used to happen my mom said. Never. It was the mid-west, she told me. Kansas, Oklahoma, those kinds of places. Not Arizona. Not Nevada or Utah. But now—now we all have storm shelters.
It’s bad right now. Spring. Right. The worst. The sirens go off nearly daily. We grab our stuff, head down into the shelter. Last month we were down here for three days. One tornado after the other. I don’t complain. I live, well, lived, in a trailer park. There were dugout shelters but not as good as the one here at school. There’s water in this one. And vid. The teachers want to hear the news, but we get to watch the latest stuff too. It’s not so bad.
I haven’t told them mom was lost in the one last month. She was high and didn’t hear the sirens I guess. The whole trailer park was wiped out. I told admin she was in California. They’re lettin’ me stay here. For now. No matter. Graduation is in a month and a half. I’ll be able to do my own thing after that. Momma called me Heidi Bateson. After my dad’s mom, I guess. She never said.
Global warming they called it. I don’t care. That was twenty years ago. What’s that to me now? The planet, they say on the vid, is in a major drought. All of the weather patterns have gone haywire. What’s that to me? I’m a poor kid from a poor area. No one gives a crap about the likes of us. I just need to be smart. Stay in the groove that will keep me in food and shelter. The geeks have it easy. They’re always talking about gettin’ on with the big gloms. I guess. There has to be somethin’ else valuable.
Space is an option. I’m healthy. They need miners. I see the ads all the time. Then there’s the planetary ships. I’m not a geek, but they need healthy women, right? Go somewhere, like they say, the old Earth. Like it used to be.
Acting. I’m acting all the damn time. I could do that. Get rich. They couldn’t do anything to me then. I’d have all the best. A gold-plated shelter. Plenty of food and water. Any vid channel I want.
The teachers all drone on and on about what has to be done next. Like it makes a difference. Like anyone cares. It’s always gonna be like this, right? Desert forever. I’m a red-head, I use my sunblock just like they say. No sunburn for me. Not many red-heads now, I hear. All the better to be an actress, right?
My friend, Bectie, is one of the geeks. Don’t know why she likes to hang with me but she’s cool. She says I should stay away from the boys. There’ll be a big market for a girl like me. Genetics, she called it. I guess cause there’s not a lot of red-heads. Maybe that’ll be a card for the planetary ships. Stay cool, she told me. I believe her. She’s ultra-smart. Her parents work for the gloms. One of the biggest. All into the planetary ships and the food tanks. She’ll have a spot, she says. She’ll take me with her. I play hard to get but she’s right. And she’s cute. I can dig that.
I do have to try and get one thing. My mom had a gold chain. A locket, she called it. Kept it in a secret place in the trailer. I’d like to get that. Gold is valuable. Not much left to be found. So I need that. Had a picture of my granma and granpa. I never met ‘em. Died before I was born. Ma said they died of heart break. I don’t know what that means. She said their ranch died. Not sure what that means either. But no matter. If I get that chain, I’ll have gold. Maybe enough to be an actress.
As soon as the storm ends, I’m headed to the trailer. Some of it must be left, am I right? Some of it?
Announcement over the school loudspeakers:
That’s it for todays activities. Now, a roll call of yesterday’s student losses.
May God take mercy on their souls.