The winds came every day, and dust swirled in great clouds till the air turned black and gritty. The house shook, and though Ma had us stuff rags into every crevice, the dirt seeped inside till everything was covered in a fine layer of dust. It was black all the time, and the wind would shriek till we all thought we’d go crazy.
Ma would sit in her rocker with baby Joe, his little blue blanket with the white flowers wrapped tight around him, and creak back and forth, her face frozen like she was in pain, but she never said a word. Sally and I knew better than to say anything and we’d sit on the floor in the parlor. Sometimes we’d play checkers, and I tried to teach her to play chess, but she never did get the hang of it.
Every morning Pa and Daniel would tie ropes around their waists and go tend the horses, and we’d wonder whether they’d ever come back from the black.
Ma just sat there rocking while the wind shrieked, and the dust swirled.
Then one night Pa and Daniel didn’t come back, and Sally said, “We should get dinner started,” and Ma said, “Not yet.” So we waited.
Sally and I went out to the kitchen and saw the ropes were untied from the door, just flapping in the wind. I heard Sally cry, “No, please,” before I ran out the door.
Sheriff Michaels said Ma went crazy that day. Early in the morning she followed Pa and Daniel to the barn and shot them with Pa’s revolver he kept in the dresser drawer. She smothered baby Joe and stabbed Sally with a kitchen knife before she cut her own wrists.
I don’t know why she let me go. That’s what I told Sheriff Michaels. He said I was a lucky boy. He also said dust storms made a lot of people crazy.
My Aunt Lilly moved in to take care of me until I turned eighteen. Then one day she just up and disappeared. They never found her.
Now I live alone. Just the way I like it.