The eerie sound of laughter rang across the landscape, incongruent amidst the ruin and devastation. Marie stopped and listened to the hideous noise of joy. The futility of struggling to survive pressed against her heart. The storm that raged only days ago had taken her last morsel of hope.
She pushed aside a two-by-four, torn from its structure and roughened by the wind's fierce onslaught. Beneath a sludge-encrusted sheet, she found the box, still taped shut. A score of memories flooded her soul, yanking at her spirit, refusing to allow her slow descent into despair.
Her mind rewound the day she stuffed all of Sadie's toys into the packing crate and sealed it with a kiss. So much anticipation. One more day. Just one. And they would have been on the road to a new home and a new life.
She yanked the tape from the box and tossed toys on the still wet ground. At the bottom, she found Sadie’s teddy bear. Gulping back her tears, she pushed it against her chest--a vain attempt to keep her heart from leaving her, never to return. For although she had lost Sadie to the storm, she refused to lose her memory.