The tornado siren was wailing, and I had bare feet.
Back then, my feet were small, smooth and soft — baby feet. Baby feet, yet tough feet. We spent all summer running around outside in our bare feet. My big toe has a long, white scar across the top from when I rode my bike with bare feet. My parents enacted a new rule that day: No bike riding with bare feet. The hot sun would make the blacktop roads bubble with tar. We would run across the road on tiptoes, as quickly as we could, but our feet would still get marked. My sister and I would sit in the bathtub, scrubbing those black tar circles on our bare feet in vain. Once my sister stepped on a bee in her bare feet, and the bee did not care for being stepped on. He left his stinger as a little souvenir in her foot that day.
It was summertime in Des Moines, Iowa, and so I had bare feet. My sister and I were with my aunt when the sirens began their urgent warning. My aunt grabbed my sister with her left hand, me with her right, and we began to ran. It wasn’t raining, but the sky was that terrible yellow-greenish color. I looked down at my feet, and saw mud squish between my toes as I ran through a mud puddle. We made it to the neighbor’s basement, the threat of a tornado passed, and summer continued.
That memory of mud surrounding my big toe is clear in my memory, but the other details are foggy. Did my aunt live in her apartment back then? Were we closer to the neighbor’s house? Where were my parents?
My feet are bigger now, cracked and rough and calloused; toughened by years of running around in my bare feet. I look with envy at my daughters’ feet. Small, smooth, and soft — baby feet.