After cleaning myself up, I headed back outside to assess the damage to the town. I knew it had been a horrendous storm, but I hadn’t realized the extent of the damage. Several trees had fallen, criss-crossing the road and squashing people’s cars as if they were made of a soft putty.
A few crowds had gathered around the crushed cars and were attempting to drag the trees off of them. I glanced around and saw my neighbor, Ms. Wilma, staring hopelessly at her small Volkswagen beetle that was practically flattened. No one had gone over to offer her assistance, and there was no way she’d be able to lift the tree herself, especially in her old age.
I hurried over to her. “Ms. Wilma? Could I possibly offer you any assistance?”
“Oh, Lucien. Thank goodness you’re here,” she said in her characteristically frail voice. “I do need your help.” She reached into the pocket of her skirt and pulled out her wallet. “How does $60 sound?”
I extended my hand and gestured for her to put her wallet away. “Thank you, but I can’t take your money.”
She looked at me and smiled, understandingly, but didn’t say anything. I turned my attention to the tree, placing my hands underneath the trunk and lifting from my knees. I struggled with all my might to lift the tree, but couldn’t. I took in a big breath and heaved; my muscles were screaming for oxygen, but still the tree didn’t budge. One more time, I thought. I mustered all of my energy and strength and tried lifting the tree. I was about to pass out when the tree lifted up and flipped off of the car and onto the ground.
Gasping for breath, I looked up to find that Ms. Wilma, her car, and the tree had disappeared. Instead, I found myself sitting in the lone pew that remained from St. Cecelia’s church.