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Short Story: They Maypole Disaster


Spring had finally arrived after a harsh winter in Wisconsin. On March 20th the people of Jubilee threw their annual festival of flowers, held in the largest park just outside of the small downtown area. A clearing marked by blooming wildflowers of all different kinds blowing in the light breeze.

The preparations were made by the local volunteer groups. As per usual popcorn, cotton candy, and churro stands were put up filling the air with sweet aromas. There were flower stands and jewelry stands that dotted the south side of the park. Local bands were set to appear at the central stage, which had a great sound system and red, green, and blue lights. Of course, there was also the giant maypole set up with rainbow-colored ribbons, a beloved way to dance every spring.

At ten in the morning, the festivities began, and people started flocking in from the town of Jubilee and other neighboring small towns. A family named the Dahlia’s showed up a little early to help with the finishing touches. Shelby had finally become old enough to participate in the dancing around the maypole. Something she had looked forward to ever since she was a small child. Her parents had joined in every year but you had to be at least thirteen to be a part of the event.

First, she and her family hit all of the food stands to get their fill of the delicious eatery options. Then took their soft blankets over towards the concert stage. The first act was a folk band called Side Bells featuring a conglomerate of background bells and chimes. A unique act that was popular in Jubilee. The next ones that came to the stage were a country band named Hills of Greenary who were frontline by the beautiful Halie Lang. The last group was the soft rock band called the Grunt Workers, a band that was well-liked by Shelby’s father Frank.

After the bands were done with their performances those of the Jubilee theater started their rendition of “It Might As Well Be Spring.” Someday Shelby hoped to be a part of the theater in town but for now, she was a member of the middle school theater group. The recital was over after a few acts and at the end, there was a small meet and greet. Shelby was able to go up and ask a few questions of one of the thespians. She wondered what it took to be a professional actor. With answers of hard work, memorization of lines, and repetitive rehearsing. Satisfied with these responses she joined her parents again so that they could go to be a part of the maypole event.

She picked out one of the fiery orange ribbons, her favorite color. Her parents flanked her on both sides with red and yellow ribbons. The spirited music began and following her parent’s moves, Shelby joined in unison. The first song was played out and then the next melodic one began. Then a gust of wind came through the park both cold and fast. So fast that it picked up the maypole that had been tied tightly to the ground and the dancers started to scream.

Some of them could not jump off in time before they were taken off the ground and swept up. Shelby was not able to get down to the grass below while her parents were able to.

Her mother yelled to her, “Shelby, jump!”

By that time though she and the others were being pulled up too far to let go safely. Unable to get off, the ribbons started to spin around and around violently. Pinning them all to the pole itself and they were wrapped around it. By that point, they were trapped as if a thick rope was restraining them. The screams continued as the unearthly wind sucked them up into an unpredicted tornado. Those on the ground attempted to take cover while those stuck to the maypole were swept up hundreds of feet into the air.

When this happened, many of the people caught up were going unconscious but Shelby was awake and facing a horrible nightmare situation. The tornado moved to the east with such speed that it was unlike any tornado that the people of Jubilee had seen before. Then after what seemed like a long time the tornado fizzled out after traveling one hundred miles.

As it dissipated the maypole and its victims were flung down to the desolated ground. They fell into a dilapidated house that was in shambles from the disaster. Tragically, a few of them had died but then as they crashed almost everyone was killed. Although Shelby was knocked out she had been spared from death by the tornado.

News traveled of where the maypole had been dropped and Shelby’s parents upon learning this information drove out as quickly as they could to find their daughter. When they arrived her mother’s tears streamed down her contorted face as she took in the scene of the demolished town. Her father rushed their blue SUV to the location they had been given to find her, hoping she was okay.

They came upon the broken house that now housed the destroyed maypole. The fire department was sealing off the entrance and the paramedics were transporting people into the back of ambulances. They walked by looking at every Gurnee that went by looking for Shelby. When they did not see her, they went up to a fireman and inquired about her, giving them her description. She pointed to the person that was being pulled out of the house, the last one to be found.

Shelby was responsive and called out to her parents when she saw them rushing toward her. The paramedics told them that she needed to be taken to the hospital to be checked out. Her leg had been crushed under a fallen wooden beam in the house. So, her parents followed the ambulance to the local hospital which was luckily still intact.

Inside, there was a flurry of fast-moving hospital staff and people crying out in pain. Once the Dahlia’s were able to get into the emergency room to see Shelby they took in the sight of the room. The nurse informed them that Shelby would need surgery to save her left leg and she cried out in painful agony and fear. Her mother rushed over to take her hand and her father gave her soothing words.

A few minutes later she was taken back into the operating room. Where they were able to make sure her leg would be okay, although it would take a long time for her to recover. Afterward, her parents were informed and they were able to go and see her.

She was still a little loopy from the anesthesia but when they came in she told them, “I never want to dance around a maypole again.”

Her parents both laughed nervously and came closer.

Her father said, “Trust me, we are never doing that again.”


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