Even though she knows she's not supposed to, Amy looks forward to tornados. Even in the day the sky gets black, and the streets get empty. The wind pries back the leaves of the silver maple tree, and underneath they gleam.
When it’s a tornado watch they don’t do it, but when it’s a tornado warning, the girls go and get inside the pantry, where they squeeze in among the cans and powders and cardboard boxes and wait until one of their parents says they can come out. The pantry is the only place in the whole house that does not have windows. You have to stay away from windows when a tornado comes because the very thing tornados love best is breaking glass, and if that happens, and you’re sitting for example in the bathtub right below the bathroom window, you will almost inevitably get hurt.
When the sirens start, Amy gets them organized. She has developed a system. Each of them is allowed three toys, not more, and Amy is in charge of the flashlight because Zoe might break it. Zoe always dallies over her dolls, feeling guilty for playing favorites. But Amy explains to her how in life you have to make choices, and eventually Zoe always does, although sometimes she tries to hide things in her tiny pants pockets.
When she gets caught she bursts out laughing or into tears depending on Amy’s face. She always gets caught. Then Amy quiets Zoe, and they kneel down on the dimpled linoleum, pull the door shut, and wait.
Once the door is closed, Zoe’s dolls have conversations. Often they discuss the weather. Amy just listens, lets her own dolls rest, feels her sister’s hot quick breaths on her neck. If their electricity isn’t out, Amy insists the light be off anyway. Slowly she gets sleepy like she does in the car, and just like when they drive somewhere, Amy, unlike Zoe, would rather just not get there, would rather just keep going, and when there’s a tornado she never wants the warning to expire, either—then the pantry door will fly wide open, and all across the top of it the frying pan and the strainer and all the knives will glint and shiver like they want to fall. And their mother will reach down and grab Zoe, and then she’ll carry her away.