Part 2: Arrival

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Hannah leaned her head against the window, and did her best to stay calm

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Hannah leaned her head against the window, and did her best to stay calm. She and Aaron had been married for five years now, but his tranquility still astonished her. He was always so composed, even in emergencies; so patient. She always felt like she was just barely hanging on.

Aaron smiled over at her, placing one hand on the side of her face, then turned his attention back to the road. "Hey," he said, "It looks like traffic is starting to move!"

They had been sitting on the interstate for nearly thirty minutes by the time they reached an exit, and then they spent fifteen more minutes in the outbound traffic on the ramp. When it had been nearly an hour, traffic finally cleared a bit – an accident had been blocking one of the lanes – and Aaron accelerated down the exit ramp and onto the street.

"Yes," he said triumphantly, "Finally!"

Hannah smiled. She was feeling a bit more relaxed now that they were moving. "There's a shelter just down the road from here," she said. They were barely ten miles from home, their trip on the interstate having taken them virtually nowhere. "We can stop there."

Aaron nodded, easing the car over a lane toward the direction Hannah had pointed. As he drove, Hannah stared out the window, watching buildings and trees whip by in a blur. This could be the last I see of my hometown, she thought, then immediately brushed the thought aside. No, everything will be alright, she told herself. Of course it will be alright. She was sure that the city would be okay; the newer buildings had hurricane protection, and the older ones were well-built. Her and Aaron's little house was in a flood-prone area, but the neighborhood had a solid drainage system, so the evacuation was really just a precaution. The houses would all be fine, she told herself, and it wasn't really the buildings that mattered anyway, as long as the people were safe.

The shelter was in sight within fifteen minutes, but a long line of cars prevented them from entering. By the time it was their turn to ease into the parking lot, there was barely a spare foot of ground to be found. Cars were parked everywhere, on curbs, in the grass, and along the sidewalks. Aaron found a space between some bushes just big enough for their car to squeeze into, and parked. Seeing how crowded the shelter was, Hannah's thoughts began racing. Would the shelter have room for them? Would they be crammed in with no space to sit? Where would they put their luggage; would they be able to get to it if they needed it? They had packed for a road trip to her sister's, thinking they could easily stop to eat once out of range of the storm, so they had only brought a few snacks. What if they were stuck in the shelter for days? Would there be enough food? Marcy would be expecting them in Georgia later tonight; Hannah would need to call her and tell her the change of plans as soon as they got settled in. Had she remembered to charge her phone? Did she even bring the charger? For that matter, would there even be power to charge it?

Hannah stepped out of the car, looked at the lines of people filing into the shelter, and sighed. She would much rather be at her sister's, with family. And yet, she had Aaron, and she had her kittens, and they would be safe. Her plans for heading to Savannah had been thwarted by nature itself, by the sudden turn of the hurricane. As with every other time she'd attempted to leave this city – thoughts of going away to college, that one almost-promotion that would have sent her to Ohio – it just wasn't meant to be. Oh well, she sighed. Maybe it's for the best. Nature itself had bound her to this town.

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