This story is written as a paired, serial story in collaboration with Sita Allard-Gregg. Both versions of “The Storm” share the same characters and setting, although the details of the story differ. Please read Sita’s version of “The Storm” here.
By Clara Barrington Craggs
It was a dark stormy night in Berlin, Germany 2015, when a family of four was sitting in their living room. They huddled together in their warm house. The rain padded against the window and every so often they would see a flash, and a few seconds later they would hear a rumble. The eldest daughter, a bright ten year old, got up and walked over to the piano. As she started to play, another flash of lightning lit up the sky, and Alexandra, the youngest daughter, started to scream again, burying her head in her father’s lap. The mother just sat there and smiled as she remembered when she was young and petrified of storms.
After a few hours of screaming and piano, Alexandra started to get sleepy despite her fear of the storm; her weariness took over and she drifted off to sleep. As soon as Kirsten, the eldest daughter, realized that her sister was asleep she stopped playing the piano so as not to wake her, and tiptoed over to her father, lying down on the sofa beside him. As she slowly fell asleep, she thought about how they had ended up sleeping down in the living room. It wasn’t really planned; It was the kind of thing that happens when you lie down and you get so tired that you just don’t want to get up again, and when most of your family is lying down you really have no choice but to lie down with them. Plus the fact that the storm was so loud and scary, they felt like being together. As she thought of these things, she followed her sister into the dream world. Karlheinz, their loving father, smiled one of his big warm smiles at his wife and children. Adèle, their mother had already fallen asleep.
Kirsten and Alexandra woke up the next morning all excited and bubbly. The night before they had planned to make their parents breakfast for their 11th wedding anniversary. They tiptoed carefully past their mother and father making sure not to wake them, but as Alexandra, full of excitement, tried to tiptoe out, she clumsily tripped over her teddy bear, which had fallen off the couch the night before, and fell straight onto her mother. Her mother yawned but didn’t open her eyes. She muttered something in her sleep but didn’t wake up. Kirsten waved her hands frantically and made a face as Alexandra slowly moved off of her mother and continued to follow her sister.
When they got to the kitchen, Alexandra started to get the ingredients out to make bacon and eggs.
“Wait, remember what I told you last time?” asked Kirsten. “We always have to tie our hair up before we start making anything in the kitchen”.
“Oh, yeah. I forgot. I am just so excited to start baking,” Alexandra said.“I love it so much.”
Kirsten tied up her long blond hair into a bun and Alexandra did the same. Then they put the bacon into the pan and waited a while for it to cook. Then they put the eggs into the pan and while they waited for the eggs to cook, they cut the bread. When they were all done, they put everything onto a tray and carried it carefully to the living room. They gently put the tray down on the floor and tapped both their parents on the head and ran squealing outside. It was a bright sunny morning, very unlike the night before.
“Do you want to go for a swim?” asked Kirsten.
“Oh. Well why not” answered Alexandra.
“But which pool should we swim in?” asked Kirsten.
“How about the outdoor one. It is just so beautiful outside this morning I want to stay out here.”
“Okay, I don’t mind.”
They ran over to their shed to get their swim suits. When they had fully changed – swimsuits, goggles and all – they jumped into the pool. As they splashed around, their parents came walking out of the house holding the tray with the breakfast they had made for them on it.
“Thank you so much for making us breakfast. “t was such a thoughtful thing to do,” said their mother in a loving voice.
“Yes indeed you nearly got out of cleaning your rooms today,” Karlheinz said in a joking voice.
“Was it the fact that we forgot the coffee daddy?” Alexandra asked.
The family laughed together.
“Go on up then,” Adèle said sounding serious with her thick french accent.
“Okay mum,” the two girls said together.
They ran up to their separate rooms. As Kirsten ran into her room, she noticed something strange. The window was open and a note sat on her desk. She quickly hurried to read the note. It read as follows:
Dear Kirsten, I hope you aren’t too shocked when you hear this but we would like you to join our spy group. You see, we need more agents. We are offering you a once in a lifetime offer. We are inviting you to join the German spy organization otherwise known as the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND).
We have been monitoring you for quite a few years, and we have decided to offer you a full training session and a place with our agents. We sincerely hope that you will accept our offer.
To reply to this letter, please leave your letter on your desk before you go to school tomorrow.
Kirsten blinked and read it again to make sure she read it correctly. She blinked again but the letter didn’t change. What should she do? Should she go and tell her mother? No! It was a secret spy organization for heaven’s sake! She couldn’t go telling the whole world about it.
After a few minutes of thinking, she decided to try and write back. She knew it was a very risky thing to do.
[Part two will appear in the next issue.]