A new short vignette by Torn MacAlester: Vulcani Cinis
Genny planted her face against the living room window, watching the snow fall. The sky grew darker as she marveled at the dark snow covering the grass.
“Can I make a snowman when it stops snowing, Mom?”
“Honey, come and sit by me,” said her mother as she was watching the television.
“Yeah.” Genny bounced down and took a seat next to her on the couch and looked at the enormous cloud on the TV. “What are you watching?”
“The news, Genny.”
“About the snowstorm?” Asked Genny, still confused about her mom’s behavior. Snow was common in this part of Pennsylvania. Even this warm winter still had a few nice storms. Unlike this one, they usually start with rain.
“It’s not a snowstorm.”
“What is it?”
“The lady on the TV is calling it a volcanic explosion,” said Mom.
“It’s when fire from deep inside the Earth causes a mountain to explode.”
“Oh.” Genny thought about it for a few minutes. “So, the snow is falling smoke?”
“It’s called ash, Genny. And you don’t have to say ‘so’.”
“Yeah. I keep forgetting.”
“It’s okay,” Mom said, hugging her tightly. “Dad will not come home tonight. They have closed the highway.”
“I’m sorry, but weren’t we going to play ‘go fish’ tonight?” Genny asked.
“Yes. We’ll play together.”
Genny listened to the news, trying to make sense of it.
So far, there is no word from the FAA, but there are at least forty aircraft unaccounted for or missing. Most of these are small aircraft, but there are two passenger planes from Washington Airways that are still missing. According to the Airline, one was a plane bound for Helena that was near the park’s northern boundary when the explosion occurred. Another had just taken off from Bozeman. Neither plane has reported. But the airline points out that they have yet to reach any of the airports in Montana. Back to you, Erica.
Thank you, Tia, one last question. Did the airline say whether these planes went down during the initial eruption, or did the plane go down later?
“Go get the pack of cards.”
“Okay,” Genny ran upstairs to the game-room. And opened the closet, looking for the playing cards. She found the ‘Old Maid’ deck, but pushed it aside to find the regular cards.
“Genny?” she heard Mom yell from downstairs.
Genny ran to the stairs and yelled back, “Yeah?”
“Your Uncle Jay just called. He’s stopping by tonight.”
“Yay!” Genny cheered. Uncle Jay was fun.
“Bring the cards.”
“How is she?” Genny woke hearing Uncle Jay’s voice.
“I think she is scared,” Mom said. “I know she didn’t understand everything about the eruption, but I tried to keep her occupied when the worst news was reported.”
“Uncle Jay,” Genny said, climbing out of the couch.
“Hay little sweety.” Jay stepped away from the doorway. Genny noticed the flakes of ash falling from his coat. She reached for it, thinking it was cold. The flake disintegrated into dust in her hand as she felt the warm sting. She rubbed her hands on her jeans. Jay stepped back, taking his coat off and setting it by the door.
Mom went to the kitchen, bringing back a broom and dustpan. Mom swept as Jay stomped his feet, getting rid of the flakes from his trouser legs and shoes.
“That should do it,” he said.
“Yes,” Mom agreed.
“That’s not snow.” Genny observed.
“That’s correct, Genny,” Jay said. “Do you know what we call it?”
“Yes,” Genny said. “I learned today that it’s called ash.”
“You learn that in school?” Asked Jay.
“No,” Genny responded, grinning. “Mom told me.”
“Well, that’s wonderful.” He answered.
“So,” Genny put her hand over her mouth. “Oops—Sorry, Mom. I didn’t mean to say ‘so’. Dad is not coming home tonight. Did you come to play ‘go fish’, Uncle Jay?”
“Yes,” he said. “We can play. Give me a few minutes to visit with you and your mom.”
“Nel, I came over to check on you, since Phil could not make it back from New York.”
“It’s fine. Phil called from the hotel this afternoon. They canceled his flight, and he couldn’t get a rental car.”
“Well then, I must share the good news with just you two. My brother will just have to hear it later.”
“Jay, what is it?” asked Mom.
“The Bureau called today. I need to report to Quantico the day after tomorrow for orientation.”
“That is wonderful,” Mom said.
“Yay!” said Genny. “So, that means you will be Agent Jay?”
“It’s likely to be Agent Miller,” said Jay. “But yes.”