10 Always


By Anna Moline

Evan ran through the driving rain, following his best friend Becca through the woods towards town. The rain had caught them unexpectedly, and though normally they would stay to frolic in it, the weather forecast had identified tornado conditions as well.

They would be needed back home to help prepare for the coming storm.

They emerged from the trees and now had a clear stretch through a meadow towards the town. Evan put on a spurt of energy, pushing past Becca. She laughed, but didn’t have enough breath to call out. While danger was approaching, still there was nothing like sprinting through a downpour, letting the droplets refresh and soak one’s face. It prompted one to let go and feel free.

Once they reached town, sucking in lungfuls of breath, the sky wore a nasty green color, seeming to warn them to get inside. Evan and Becca approached the road bustling with people running about, fortifying shop doors and covering windows. The town of Greenfield was extremely small, with a population of fifty or so. Many lived on farms a few miles away, like Evan, but still considered the town their’s.

“I’ll see you after!” he called to Becca as he raced for his abandoned bike outside the general store.

“See you!” she replied, already dashing for her family’s bakery. “Call the walkie!” He reached his bike, the rain revealing peeling blue paint, and pedaled home.

For the ten minute bike ride, Evan didn’t think about the severe storm, or to watch the slippery pavement ahead of him. His thoughts were on what he and Becca would do after the storm. Tornado warnings were frequent enough in the summer season that it was possible it was all a precaution. Evan thought about their treehouse in the woods. Some repair would probably be needed.

Perhaps they would spend the next morning fixing their treehouse, and then they would stop in the bakery for some fresh rolls. The afternoon would consist of restocking their treehouse, or a large game of paintball with the other children from town. Evan was fourteen, the oldest, so he was usually the one in charge when everyone was gathered. Becca was his second in command, obviously. She was also crazy competitive, which made community games even more fun. Everything would be wet, which would make it top level.

With a start, Evan realized he had somehow biked into the ditch. He needed to be paying more attention to what was going on presently.

Soon, he reached his family’s farm. His brothers were outside, herding the chickens into the barn as the wind picked up. His younger sister was coaxing Vanilla, their palomino horse, into the barn as well. She seemed to be having trouble with the mare, who acted up whenever a storm was brewing. Evan dropped his bike in the yard

and joined her. “Ava, let me try.” He pulled out an apple and gave it to Vanilla, gently pulling her lead rope while he talked to her softly. Eventually, they made it into the barn and he led her to her stall. After she was comfortable, Evan checked to make sure all the chickens and cows were in the barn. Then he shut the door and locked it. Evan returned to his bike and stored it in the shed. Hail started to fall just as he made it into the house. He locked the door behind him as the vicious breeze tried to take it away.

“Are all four children in the house?” his mother called from the kitchen. “Good.

I’m not sure how long this will last,” She dragged her fingers through her long hair, fretting. Her worries were not contagious, however. Stuff like this happened all the time out there. He hoped Becca and everyone else in town were prepared to wait out the storm. Evan wished he could have stayed to help her and her family.


The sky remained dark. At one point the farmhouse lost power, so Evan huddled with his siblings in the basement, which they had stocked well with games and snacks beforehand. He could hear the battery operated radio upstairs where his mother listened to the news. His father had been stranded back in town, so it was just the five of them.

Sometime around midnight, Evan woke to find his brother Flynn drooling on his shoulder. Evan stayed still, listening. Then he heard it again. The tornado sirens were blaring far away, warning that a twister had been spotted. Evan’s mother was tucked in with Ava on the couch, eyes wide and silent. Evan hoped with all his might that Becca was doing alright. He prayed that the twister was far away, and the siren was coming from a different town. He didn’t know what he would do if something happened to her. Evan and Becca had been best friends ever since she moved into the bakery nine years ago, and they did everything together. He loved how she made him laugh; how her face lit up every time she got challenged in a game, or when she solved a puzzle. Becca was the sunshine in his life. He couldn’t imagine his life without her in it.

Evan could do nothing but sit and wait. Eventually, the sirens stopped and the thrum of rain and wind against the roof faded away. Before they could go outside to assess the damage, Evan’s father burst through the door, dripping wet, returning from town where he had been stuck at the general store with other farmers. He looked ragged.

“Everyone’s fine” he interrupted, warding off Evan’s mother’s question. “Minimal damage overall. However, the oak tree in front of the bakery fell on top of it. The top floor was destroyed and the main floor was damaged.”

Evan sat up, his eyes widening. “Seriously?” he asked, a tremor in his voice. “Is everyone-”

“Everyone is fine,” his father repeated. “The Jones family was able to get out before it happened. However, they won’t be able to live there for quite a while.” Evan sank back, his thoughts flashing. How was Becca dealing with this? He had thought it

was just another regular storm. Evan couldn’t imagine having to leave his home like that.

He excused himself and went outside. The yard was littered with debris all the way down to the pond. Evan knew the road would be perilous as well, but he had to bike over to town. He had to make sure his best friend was okay.

The trip took triple the amount of time it had taken him the previous day. Evan kept having to stop and walk around large branches and other waste on the road.

Eventually, he just stayed off his bike and sloshed through the inch deep water flooded on the pavement.

Once he reached the town, he sucked in a breath at the wreckage. Fallen trees were periodically scattered, and debris was everywhere. Some townspeople were outside, starting the immense cleanup that would be needed. Evan jogged past them to the bakery, which was just as his father had recounted.

The large oak tree that had been in front now lay on top of the crushed second floor. Evan remembered how once he and Becca had tried to climb it, but they had been too short to reach the bottommost branches.

He walked through the open door, careful not to step on any glass. Inside, Becca and her mother were moving the wreckage away from the middle of the room.

“Hi, Evan,” Becca greeted him. Evan could detect a hint of despair in her voice, and felt his spirits drop right next to hers’.

“Hey,” he replied. “I just wanted to come help with the mess.”

“Anything would be appreciated,” her mother replied warmly. “I’ll be back. I need to go get a broom from next door.” She left, leaving Evan and Becca alone.

“So…” Evan started. “Where are you going to stay now?”

“Obviously not here,” Becca replied. “Your dad offered for us to stay with you for a while, so I think that’s what we’re going to do, at least until we get this fixed up a little.” Despite the dire circumstances, Evan felt a little thrill go through him.

“That’s cool,” he replied smoothly. They continued to drag bits of concrete across the floor until Becca’s mother came back. When the sun was high in the sky, Evan guessed that he would be needed back home to help clear his own home’s mess. He said goodbye, then biked home.

Evan felt something new inside of him, though he couldn’t quite identify it. Becca had always been upbeat, no matter what the situation. But now she sounded sad, and he didn’t know how to cheer her up. It was disheartening. She was his best friend, and his entire life revolved around her. This affected him too. He hoped for something to fix this mess, or he was afraid that it wouldn’t ever be the same as it once was.


Two weeks later, Evan and Becca were outside in the heat, feeding the animals.

Becca liked to help him with his chores because she said it took her mind off things. They didn’t talk too much about what had happened, just stayed together.

They sat on the fence, watching Vanilla eat her oats. There was a warm wind that kept blowing Becca’s hair around, but she didn’t mind.

“Evan, I have to tell you something,” she said suddenly. Her tone of voice was serious. He looked at her, letting her know she had all of his attention.

“My parents have been talking about… moving away,” She almost choked on the words. “Instead of trying to rebuild the bakery.” Evan’s mouth dropped, but no sound came out. Becca’s blue eyes moistened.

“I don’t want to, Evan,” she rushed on. “I want to stay here, with you, and with the treehouse, and the bakery and the town. I don’t want to move away forever.” Tears started flowing freely down her cheeks.

“I don’t want you to move either,” Evan replied fiercely. “But even if you do, we’ll still be best friends. Always.” He reached over and hugged her. “I’ll find a way,” he murmured into her ear. He wanted to tell her that he loved her, that no matter what happened the love wouldn’t go away, but suddenly he couldn’t find the right words.

For the next four days, Evan stayed close to Becca. His mind grew numb when he thought about her words, like it couldn’t comprehend what it meant. It was like his mind had fixed on a future with Becca in it, and now it had nothing to fix on. He felt empty.

Too soon, the day arrived. Becca and her family were packed and ready to leave. They were going to stay with Becca’s aunt in Missouri for a while, and then find a place of their own. They “didn’t want to be a burden”, as her mother said. Of course they weren’t, but Evan’s family couldn’t change their minds.

“Why so far?” Evan asked, his voice cracking.

“My sister is the closest family we have,” Becca’s mother replied. “I’m sorry we’re leaving, but it’s time for a new chapter in our lives. I know Becca’s going to miss you very much, though.”

Becca was uncharacteristically quiet. As her family packed their belongings in their car, she stood by the front door, her eyes downcast. Evan went up to her.

“I’ll miss you too much,” Becca said, her voice wavering.

Evan pulled her into another tight hug, for the last time. “I’ll find a way,” he repeated his words. “I won’t ever forget you.” Becca nodded.

“Goodbye, Evan.” she whispered. Then, as if being forced to, she pulled away and walked out to the car. She turned to look back once, in farewell, then got in. Evan felt his heart being wrenched out, in a pain he had never felt before. The car pulled out of the driveway, Becca’s family waving to his. He watched until it almost disappeared from view.

“I love you,” he whispered, then Becca rounded a corner, and disappeared into a new life without him.


Several months later, Evan stood in his room, clutching a train ticket to Missouri. He would leave a note, but he didn’t think his parents would understand. He had to go. He had to see her again.


Anoka County Library Write On! 2023 Short Story Contest Winners Copyright © 2023 by Avrie Siedschlag; Ella Howard; Greta Graham; Renad Taher; Rachel Mueller; Daniel Gbati; Julia McBride; Audrey High; Lucia Floan; Rhett LeBeau; Anna Moline; Hannah Jemming; Valomi Lewis; Fen Hendren; Kathryn Downs; Megan Nguyen; Lizzie Elsenpeter; Sophia Accord; and Sophia Acord. All Rights Reserved.

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