Part 7: The Happy Ending

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Hannah reclined in the plush armchair in front of the fireplace

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Hannah reclined in the plush armchair in front of the fireplace. Her one kitten was curled up in her lap and sleeping soundly, and Aaron was sprawled out on the couch beside her, his wrapped ankle elevated with a pile of pillows. Her sister Marcy came in from the kitchen, holding a steaming mug.

"I made you some tea," Marcy said. "Here you go."

Hannah took the mug carefully. It looked too hot to sip, so she rested it in her lap just above the kitten.

"If you need anything else," Marcy said, "just yell for me. I want you to relax." She grabbed the television remote from the coffee table and gave it to Hannah. "Relax!" she said, pointing a finger at Hannah's face, then smiled and returned to the kitchen.

Hannah always felt at home at Marcy's. Though neither of them had grown up here, Marcy had always been such a strong presence in Hannah's life. She had been an amazing big sister, including Hannah in her activities and often bringing her along to hang out with her friends, despite Hannah's five-year age difference. Whether in Florida or Georgia, Marcy's house just felt like home.

Hannah and Aaron had been at Marcy's for two days now. For the first four days after the storm, Hannah and Aaron had been checked out by doctors, then placed in a hotel while the emergency crews cleared the area. On the fifth day, those who could were given permission to return to their homes, and semi-permanent housing arrangements were made for those who had no place to stay. Hannah and Aaron had taken a taxi to their neighborhood, since their car was a casualty of the flood water and tree branches at the shelter, and the drive home was an echo of their ride on the bus: less standing water, but lots of destruction. Most of the houses had some level of damage from tree branches and wind, and some had been flooded. Hannah and Aaron's home had suffered both – their house had survived, but it had been flooded badly, and a tree had fallen and knocked in a large portion of the roof. It would be several months before the repairs were completed (it would be covered by insurance – thank goodness they had paid their renewal on time!), but they would be able to live in an extended-stay hotel while the work was being done. For the time being, however, the funds for that were still being processed, and so they needed a place to stay for a few days. The law firm where Aaron worked had come through the storm unscathed, but many of the employees' homes had not, and so the owner had given those employees a week of paid time off to rest, recover, and find other housing. Since Hannah was off work for the summer and they both had quickly tired of seeing devastation everywhere they looked, they decided to spend Aaron's week off by getting away for a few days. Marcy and her husband, Sean, had come to pick them up at their hotel as soon as travel into the area was cleared.

Marcy's three daughters came running in to the room, playing "keep away" from the youngest with a stuffed animal. They ran in a circle, giggling as they pranced around the room. Hannah watched them for a moment, smiling at their joy. Then she clicked on the TV.

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