Note: This story was dynamically reformatted for online reading convenience. STORY CODES: Mg, slo A force 5 tornado will destroy anything in its path, including your life. Forty-eight hours before, my house had stood here, and my wife and I were doing yardwork, just puttering about, really, looking forward to dinner. We had heard the storm sirens, battened down the hatches as well as we could, and retreated into the house. We were in the innermost room, listening to a weather radio, when it hit. The old adage that it sounds like a freight train doesn't begin to describe the violence. It had torn the house apart. The wall my wife was holding onto was ripped away from the room, taking her with it. Only a foot away, I was not aware she was gone for several minutes, and I didn't find her until the next morning. Once the tornado passed, I began searching, yelling, gathering the neighbors to help. It was hard going. Pieces of houses, trees, fences, were scattered everywhere. There was no power. People were frightened and irrational. Police forces were overwhelmed. We were on our own. It was completely by chance that I heard yelling just after dawn not far from the remains of my place. I could see a small crowd gathering and went to see what it was. It was my wife, half-buried in the wreckage of several houses piled up against a line of bent and broken trees. It required only a glance at the odd angles her body held to tell that she was dead. The tornado had torn a half-mile wide swath across northern Alabama. Our area of small houses in a subdivision had taken a glancing hit. Our house and several nearby had been heavily damaged, some completely destroyed. Across the street there were a few limbs down, but nothing more than that. Tornadoes draw lines. It had ripped my house in half along that interior wall, and jumbled what it didn't take with it. The coroner and the rescue squad managed to get to us about noon and take away my wife's remains. I went back to the house to see if anything could be salvaged. My truck was still running. It had been tipped on its side, but with the help of the neighbors I cleared the space under it and pushed it back upright. It was dented and beat up, but still operable. I started searching through the rubble for the important things - family keepsakes, anything of value. It was a nightmare time. There was no electrical power, no police presence. Neighbors gathered together and did what they could for each other. With freezers and refrigerators out, people pooled all their food. Barbeque grills provided cooking, and we all shared what we had. That was how I met Yvette. It was a couple days after the storm. I was in a neighbor's yard, taking advantage of a shared meal. I was sitting in a lawn chair, finishing up a steak off a paper plate. Around me were other refugees, and we did the best we could to support each other. Talk, of course, centered on the losses and the hope for the return of civilization. "Do you want some more?" a small voice asked. I looked up from my plate, and a young girl stood in front of me. I'd seen her in the neighborhood, but didn't know her name. She held a platter of cooked meat and baked potatoes. With no refrigeration, everything folks had was cooked to be shared quickly. "No, thanks, this will do," I said, "There's still a few more hours of daylight, I need to get back." "Okay," she said, and started to turn away, then turned back to face me. "You're Mr. Stone, aren't you?" she asked. "Yes," I said, holding out my hand, "and you are........." "Yvette Martin," she finished, and shook my hand. "We live 3 houses away from you. I heard about your wife. I'm sorry....." "Thanks," I said, lowering my head. I was afraid of crying again. Yvette stepped forward and put her hand on my shoulder. "I know," she said, "We lost my mother too." I looked up at her, and saw the same pain in her face that I felt. "I'm sorry," I said, "I didn't know." We looked at each other for a few moments. She was about 12, tall and coltish, slender, with shoulder-length brown hair. She wore a pair of shorts and a T-shirt that was too big for her, with a pair of somebody else's hiking boots on her feet, the laces untied. In all the wreckage, protecting your feet was important. I stood up, and we automatically hugged, each holding our plate off to the side. Nobody gave us a glance. In the aftermath of the storm, people clung to each other that way. After a few moments we broke the hug. I wanted to say something encouraging, but I couldn't. Yvette turned to go and a man near me turned and put his hand out. "I'm Tad Martin," he said, "Yvette's father." I shook his hand and said, "Bob Stone." "We're right over there if you need something," he said, pointing to a house near my own that was twisted on its foundation, one wall leaning in, the roof collapsed in sections. "Sorry to hear about your loss," I said. His head bowed slightly, and he said, "Yours too." "Are you staying here?" he asked. "Yeah, camping out, trying to salvage what I can. There's been some looting." "I know," he said, "We've been doing the same." With no police presence, and so many people out of their houses, some bad boys from the undamaged areas were taking advantage of the situation. We had to watch out for each other and protect what little we had left. "I'd like to get Yvette out of here. She's only 11, and losing her mother has been rough, but she won't leave," Tad said. "Right now I plan to save what I can real quick, and get out soon." We said our goodbyes, offered whatever help we could to each other, and I went back to my place. I went through the garage, which was on the end of the house that was still standing, and found some more camping gear undamaged. I cleared enough room to set up a tent in the front yard, and there were a couple old lanterns that were still good, complete with a can of kerosene. If I saved it for when it was needed, that should last a few nights. I worked in the house until nightfall, saving some clothes and photographs that had somehow stayed dry in a closet. When it got too dark to work I unlocked the truck and got my rifle out. It was an '03 Springfield that had been my grandfather's. Just an heirloom, but I had fired it before and knew it to be accurate and reliable. It had survived in a hardshell case, with a small box of ammo. I built a fire in a metal trashcan. There was no shortage of fuel. Splintered and broken 2x4s were everywhere. I sat by the fire, my rifle close at hand, for a while. Neighbors wandered by, checking in with each other. I had met more of the neighborhood in the previous 2 days than the entire 5 years we'd lived there. There was a dusk curfew in effect, and vehicle traffic stopped then. Anybody who drove into the subdivision after that was stopped and questioned by armed men. My revery was disturbed by a small voice that came out of the darkness. "Mr. Stone?" It was a girl's voice. "Who's that?" I called back, my hand not far from my rifle. "It's Yvette Martin," came the response. I stood up. She was actually only 20 feet away, but things get very dark in the country with only a few lamps and fires lit. "Come in," I said, thinking how ridiculous that probably sounded. She was dressed as she had been that day, with a too-big jacket added to deal with the evening chill. I pulled up a plastic 5-gallon bucket I had been using that day and upended it for her to sit on. "Does your father know where you are?" I asked, "It's not really safe to be wandering around." "Yeah, he sent me over to sit with you for a while. I think he just wanted to be alone." Her head dropped a little bit, and she sat there, staring into the fire. "He gave me this to protect myself," she said, reaching into a pocket of the jacket and producing a small .38 revolver. "Here, let me see," I said, taking it from her and checking it over. It was loaded, the safety was off. I quizzed her for a moment to make sure she knew how to handle it. Her father had taught her well, and I handed it back to her. "Was that your mother's coat?" I asked quietly. She nodded, tucking the revolver back in her pocket. "Are you hungry?" I asked, "I found some candy bars in the kitchen." "That would be good," she answered. "I'm full, but I never turn down chocolate." She almost smiled, but the sad look didn't leave her eyes. "Be right back," I said, and went into the tent. I found the box of candy bars and brought it out. The wrappers were dusty, as was everything, but we each opened a Hershey bar and sat munching chocolate in silence. "Yvette - that's a pretty name," I said, "one you don't hear often in Alabama." "My mother was French. They met when Dad was in the Army, and named me after her mother." "My wife's name was Gina," I told her. "We're both from here." "I like my name," Yvette said. She was silent for a moment, then said, "I'm gonna miss my mom. My dad is really gonna miss her." "I'm sorry," I said, and I reached out and took her hand, not really knowing what else to do. Her hand squeezed mine, and she held it. "I wish I could do something for my dad, but he just pushes me away. He's really messed up right now, and I don't think he realizes that I hurt too." Again at a loss for words, I could only say, "I'm sorry. You know that I know how bad it is." We sat for a few minutes, just staring into the fire side-by-side. It was getting later, and there was no more foot traffic. Whoever was still in the neighborhood had found a place to settle for the night. "Would you like some tea?" I said. "I can heat up some water, and I found some teabags and sugar in a dry cabinet today." Yvette almost smiled again, and said, "That would be nice. My mom used to make tea." I rummaged around in the tent and found a kettle I'd salvaged. I filled it with bottled water the National Guard had dropped off that day and put it over the fire on a metal refrigerator shelf I'd found in the yard. In a few minutes the teakettle whistled, a lonely but comforting sound in the silence of the night. I made two cups of tea and handed one to Yvette. "Have you and your dad figured out what you're going to do?" I asked. It was a common question - rebuild or move on? "I don't know," she said, "His brother is supposed to be coming down from Nashville in the next few days, and he says we'll figure it out then. You?" "Well, I'm staying in the area, but I don't think I want to rebuild here," I said. "I understand." Yvette said simply, and she reached over and took my hand again. We sat quietly together, holding hands and sipping our hot tea, sharing what little we had to give in a difficult time. She told me what school she had gone to, I told her where I worked. We talked about what had survived in the neighborhood, what we'd heard about the plans for returning electrical power to the area. It was small talk, but it was normality, and hope. Finally we just sat, comforting each other with our presence. "Do you want me to walk you back?" I asked after a long silence. "Can I just stay here for a while?" Yvette asked. "Dad really doesn't want to talk, and this is nice. He knows I'm safe here with you, and I think he really wants to be alone." I thought a moment, then said, "Sure." I gave her the best smile I could muster and added, "We survivors have to watch out for each other." She took my hand in both of her small hands and smiled back at me in the firelight. "Thanks." We sat a while longer and finished our tea. I got up and went into the tent with the cups and kettle. Not expecting to need the rifle, I reached out and pulled it inside. While I was putting things away, I heard the tent flap rustle behind me. "Mr. Stone?" came Yvette's voice. I turned, and she was very close to me in the small space. She put her arms around my waist and pulled herself close to me, silently. Her head was against my chest, and I put my arms around her, holding her close. I started rocking my body slightly, hopefully a comforting feeling to her. I put my head down, my lips against her hair. It was an earthy smell, but nobody was very clean right then. "Mr. Stone......" she started, then stopped. I waited for her to finish. "My dad and I....... well, we used to be together sometimes....... and now he doesn't want to touch me." I wasn't sure I understood what she was saying. Together? I stayed silent, just rubbing her back and holding her close. "Will you touch me....... like he used to?" she said. Her hands on my back went down to the bottom of my t-shirt and slid under it onto the bare skin underneath. Her fingers spread out over my skin, and she pulled herself closer to me. She shifted slightly and slid one of her legs between mine. Her meaning became crystal clear. Her lower body pressed against mine, she tilted her head back and looked up at me. Her pretty face, and the need written upon it, were clear in the glow from the fire outside. Her lip trembled a tiny bit, and I thought I'd never seen anyone so vulnerable. My mind and heart were a whirl of conflicting thought and emotion. 11-year-old Yvette had just admitted to an incestuous relationship with her father. She had just asked me to make love to her in his stead, to provide the comfort he was unable to give. I was alone, had lost my own wife, felt the same pain and fear she must be feeling. There was so much wrong and dangerous here, but there was shared need too. I looked at her for a long time, as her hands pressed against the naked skin of my back. Her eyes sought an answer in my face. Very slowly I bent down to her. Her head tilted farther back as I came closer. Her lips separated. I took one final second, and need won out over sense. I kissed her. Yvette kissed me back, her lips separating, opening, as her tongue darted into my mouth. We had both been holding our breath, and now we exhaled forcefully, with the relief of acceptance. The tips of her fingers dug into my back. I put my hands on the front of her jacket and slid it off her shoulders. Remembering the gun in the pocket, I took the jacket and carefully put it aside. She stepped out of the big boots. Her hands came around my body and slid up my chest, then moved down and began unbuckling my belt. I stopped her for a moment to take her t-shirt off over her head. Her breasts were just budding, just small bumps on her smooth chest. In the dim firelight they were beautiful. I had laid some old sleeping bags on the floor when I set the tent up, and I sank to my knees on them. Yvette joined me. I pulled my t-shirt off over my head and threw it aside, then pulled her to me, and we kissed again. She kissed me hungrily, with need, her arms around me holding me breathlessly tight. My hands sought her chest, while hers went back to my belt. With speed obviously born of experience, she had my pants open and sliding down. Her hands reached around me and cupped my ass, pressing herself against me as she slid my jeans and boxers down over my hips. I caressed her tiny nipples, feeling them harden under my attention. Yvette reached down between us to free my cock from entanglement in my shorts, and her hand gripped me. I lay down on the pile of sleeping bags and drew her to me. Her hands unbuttoned her shorts, and I helped her skin them down over her legs. She kicked them off, then helped me slide my pants and boxers off. We were naked together, and lay on the sleeping bags kissing, holding each other tight. Our breathing was rapid from anxiety and desire. Yvette's hand slid between us and found my cock. She began stroking it, kneading it. She moaned slightly into my mouth. I pulled her leg up over my hip and attacked her small pussy with my fingers. It bore only a tiny amount of pre-pubescent hair. I spread her labia and stroked the inside of her lips, searching for the opening. She was wet, and my searching finger slid deep inside her. Her head went back, her mouth open, as she moaned softly. We teased each other's bodies with our fingers for a while, kissing, throwing ourselves at each other, filling the emptiness. Then Yvette pushed me onto my back and straddled me. She bent forward and kissed me again. My hands reached down to hold her ass, slim and taut. She rose up slightly and reached down between us, taking my shaft in hand. I felt the wetness of her pussy lips against the head of my cock. Yvette knelt upright, and I felt her begin to open for me, felt the heat of her cunt as she began to impale herself on my cock. I knew that stopping her was not within my will at this moment. With all the desolation, physical and emotional, around us, this passion was necessary to life. She looked so beautiful in the firelight as she slowly slid down onto me, stopping, rising up slightly, then sliding down further, taking more of me inside her with each downward thrust of her hips. Her hands rested on my chest, while mine held her slender hips. She continued sliding down onto me until I felt her labia pressed against me. Yvette's eyes were closed as she began grinding forwards and backwards, pressing her clit against my pubic bone. Her breath caught several times, and I could feel the muscles inside her clutching at me. I covered her tiny tits with my hands, and her hands joined mine, pressing my hands to her chest as she rode me. "Mr. Stone...... Bob......," she gasped, her breathing ragged. "Yessss....." she hissed. I had no answer, no need or desire to speak. She began rising up and dropping onto me, forcefully fucking my cock up into her. The tightness was incredible, the heat of her sensuality intoxicating, as she bounced harder and harder onto my belly. Her inner lubrication increased, and I felt her wetness seeping down over my scrotum. She went back to a grinding rhythm that finally seemed to falter, and then fell onto my chest as her climax hit. I felt her tiny cunt grasping at my shaft, buried completely up within her belly. As her breath returned, I rolled over, winding up on top of her. Her thin legs wrapped around me and her hips bucked up at me, wanting more. Supporting my weight on my hands, I began fucking into her, long slow thrusts, almost sliding out of her, then returning. Her hands held my hips, then caressed my chest. Her eyes were open now, locked on mine, as I fucked her slowly, lovingly. As my own orgasm approached my thrusts became shorter, sharper. Anyone within 20 feet of the tent would have heard the slap of flesh on flesh. Yvette's fingertips bit into my chest. She moved her long slim legs high and wide, outside my arms. With each thrust I went deep, deep, into her tightness. She began moaning softly again, her eyes closed and her head tilted back. I bent down and kissed her. Then her head turned sideways, and I could feel her body start to tense. In the smallest of whispers, probably not meant for my ears, she breathed, "Daddy, yess, yessss I love you." I could see a single tear dropping from her eye. I lay down on top of her, her head pressed against my chest. Her arms went around my back, and my orgasm broke. I slammed down into her cunt as the first spurt of cum emerged from my shaft, and Yvette joined me in climax. I could feel her inner muscles clutching at me again as I thrust again and again into her, spewing cum deep inside her. Passion exhausted, I lay atop her. Final spasms of ecstasy shook her pussy and my cock as I lay atop her. I kissed the top of her head as she held me tight and cried softly. I slowly rolled onto my back, bringing her back atop me. We lay like that for a long while, as my cock softened and finally slipped out of her. No words were needed, and none were said. We had done what we both needed to survive emotionally, shared what sustenance we had to give with each other, given each other renewed strength. Yvette's soft sobs finally ceased, and we just held each other. "I guess I should go check on Dad," she said. "I'll go with you," I replied. I handed her a towel that was relatively clean, and she wiped herself as best she could. We dressed in silence, then she came to me again, putting her arms around me and leaning back to be kissed. I complied, holding her head in my hands. We separated, and picking up my rifle I walked her back to what was left of her home. Tad Martin sat on a lawn chair in front of a makeshift shelter built from plastic tarps and scrap lumber. He poked with a stick at a small fire on the ground in front of him. As we approached, I heard a sound behind me, a car. I moved forward into the light at the fire, racked the bolt of my rifle, and turned. A car full of young men came into view, the headlights off. Holding my rifle levelled above the car, I called, "Not a good place to be, boys. If you're smart, you'll go home." The headlights came on, and the car accelerated away into the darkness. I watched until it left the subdivision and went back onto the main road. I turned, and Yvette stood beside me, the .38 held low in a two-handed grip. Tad had watched, but had not moved. Sticking the gun back in her pocket, Yvette began bustling about, trying to bring some order into her world. I walked over to where Tad sat, and just put my hand on his shoulder. He looked up at me and just stared for a moment, then said, "Thanks, Bob." and turned away from me again. "Tad, it's going to be alright again some day," I said softly. "You and Yvette are still together." I emphasized her name as I said it, and Tad nodded. "Yeah. It's just going to take some time," he said. Yvette was inside the shelter, and I called out, "Good night, Yvette." She poked her head out through an opening and smiled at me. "Good night, Mr. Stone, and..........Thanks." "You're welcome, and if you need anything, I can hear you yell from my tent," I said, smiling at the two of them. I went back off into the darkness, back to the tent in the yard of my destroyed home. Clearing the rifle, I laid it aside and wrapped myself into a sleeping bag. I fell asleep, wondering at the nature of human beings in emotional extremes. I never saw Yvette again. In the morning I took my truck, loaded with salvage, to a friend's house in the city who'd offered a garage for temporary storage. He went back with me for a second load. While he piled things in the bed, I walked down to the Martins'. They were gone. The neighbor on the other side told me Tad's brother had arrived from Nashville with a group of friends and trucks. They had quickly gathered up what little could be saved and left. The Martins planned to stay with him while they figured out what to do next. The insurance settlement for my house came through quickly and enabled me to buy a new place closer to the city. It's been a year. Somehow I've started over. I still grieve at the loss of my beloved, and wonder at the little girl who, by her own need, gave me a gift of life when I needed it.