Above and Below

Rock Me Like a Description of a Hurricane

As I read Lauren Groff’s story, “Above and Below,” in the New Yorker summer fiction issue last night, I found myself riveted by her description of an oncoming hurricane. The character watching the storm come in has recently become homelss. She’s living in her car:

A hurricane developed over the Caribbean but only its edges lashed the shore. Still, during the scream and blow, the camphor rattled its branches against the top of the car and the wagon shook so hard she was afraid the metal would twist and the glass would break. The retention pond overflowed and water licked up to the hubcaps. She lay as quietly as she could and listened and watched: she was a thin shell of glass and steel from the raw nerve at the center of herself. She felt the storm come closer, charging near; she waited with a painful breathless patience. But before it arrived she fell asleep.

That’s a short story, right there. A complete story within a story. Like a Chinese doll.

That sentence — she was a thin shell of glass and steel from the raw nerve at the center of herself — sets me on edge. I want to say: aren’t we all. Just this close to twisting and breaking apart.