On Tuesday, the sky was ominously green as Sophie and I walked through the parking lot and into Target; it a way, it reminded me of the sky the night that Trapper called it quits. Once we were inside, the tornado siren began to blare, muted by the walls of the store.
Stella and AJ Cook were in the produce section, checking for a fresh cantaloupe. “Hey,” I said. “Do you know what’s going on outside?”
“My mom just called,” said Stella. “She said a tornado’s coming through Fridley.”
“Excuse me,” said a red-and-khaki worker to our quad. “We’re asking everyone to move to the back of the store, away from any windows, for the next fifteen minutes. There’s a tornado warning.”
Sophie, Stella, and I looked at each other; AJ looked toward the doors. “I suppose we’d better listen,” he said. And so it was decided.
We left our shopping carts by the fruit and headed for the back of the store, choosing an aisle of rugs and runners. I sat down on the bottom shelf. Sophie sat beside me, and AJ and Stella sat on the shelf opposite us. Target employees were milling back and forth, talking into their walkies like police at the scene of a crime. The atmosphere was dry, ready. “I hope that everyone in the store tonight sings a song together before this is all over,” I said. “It just seems right.” AJ sat with his long legs sprawled into the aisle; Stella, beside him, had her knees pulled up to her chest and her chin resting on them. “This feels like the perfect setting for a movie,” I said. I nodded at AJ and Stella. “You two are the Young Couple in Love. You know, like in Armageddon or Poseidon. The young folks so in love when it’s tested by tragedy.”
AJ laughed and dramatically grabbed Stella and shook her. “You stay with me!” he roared. “I’m not gonna lose you!”
“Exactly,” I said, laughing with the others.
An attractive male Target worker in thick black-rimmed glasses marched resolutely through our aisle, between our two groups. I watched him as he walked to the end of the row and turned right. “Someone should fall in love with a Target employee by the end of the movie,” I said.
“Sophie,” suggested AJ.
I scowled at him. “Thanks a lot, AJ.”
“Or you,” he said, shrugging with upturned palms. “Whoever.”
I sighed and leaned my head back against a black shag rug. “No, it’s okay. I will play the part of the Frustrated Writer. The tragedy will be what shakes my character free of writer’s block, and the whole movie will be narrated by me, by what I write in the book.”
“Oooh, I like this!” said AJ. “I dig!”
“We should probably have a dramatic scene where someone loses a phone call,” said Sophie. “Stella’s mom calls back, and over the phone, she’ll hear her mom be … lifted away.”
“Yeah,” I said. “Then Stella will go berserk, screaming all over the place and trying to run out of the doors, but AJ will hold her back.”
“I’ll have to wrestle with her!” he said. “I’ll have to slap her to get her to focus. It will all be so gripping.” He grinned at Stella while she rolled her eyes.
“We’ll call it The Target Zone,” I suggested. “Target Twister? Bullseye Funnel?”
We continued to create an epic tornado-meets-Target screenplay while the muffled siren blared on. And so we effectively entertained ourselves while danger swirled by outside, passing over our building as if we had blood on the doorposts. The thought crossed my mind that this sort of thing—this Passover of danger—was becoming my new “normal.” After only fifteen or twenty minutes, the sirens stopped, and the Target workers let us get back to shopping. So we returned to our carts by the fruit, said goodbye to Stella and AJ, and eventually left Target.
“No singing, screaming, death, or romance,” I said to Sophie. “All in all, a boring night.” We both laughed, and it sounded like tiny bells ringing in the dark.