His hand rests gently on her belly as they watch the evening news, feeling his baby boy kick against his palm, her hand atop his. The bag was packed and ready, sitting by the front door in preparation for a hasty departure.
“Mmm,” she winces and squeezes his fingers. He smiles in spite of the pain and glances away from the TV to watch the second hand of the wall clock. When her grip loosens he looks up into her eyes.
“63 seconds,” he says, watching her expression with a glimmer of hope in his eyes. She takes several slow breaths before nodding at him.
“Alright,” she says.
“Alright?” He repeats. He was already smiling, but at her words his lips spread into a large toothy smile as shifts to the edge of his seat, struggling to suppress the energy building inside him.
“Alright,” she nods again, her lips curling into a smile to match his. “Let’s go.”
“Yes!” The man jumps to his feet and throws his hands into the air. “Yes, let’s do this. Everything is packed, everything is ready. You- you’ll need your slippers!”
The woman smiles fondly as the man runs off into the adjoining room, returning a moment later with a pair of white slippers. He sets them on the floor, then turns and hurries back to the other room.
“Your jacket!” He exclaims. He is gone for only a few seconds before reappearing, but he doesn’t even stop to appreciate his accomplishment in collecting her jacket before he turns and disappears again.
“My jacket! The Keys!” The man rushes through the living room, a jacket over each shoulder, and flies to the front door. “We’re wasting time!” He grabs the bag, throws the door open, and hurries out into the evening air.
“Oh, geez,” The woman sighs, making herself comfy upon the couch as she waits. She watches the clock and counts off eight seconds before the man bursts through the door again.
“My wife!” The husband slides to a stop by her side, drops to his knees, slips the slippers upon her feet, and rises to offer her a hand. He takes her elbow and braces her as she rises. They exit the house. He moves ahead to open the side door of their van, tosses the bag toward the back, and moves to help her inside. She pulls the seatbelt across her body and freezes as her phone makes a familiar sound; three short beeps, three long beeps, and three short beeps. Her jaw falls and her eyes widen as she turns to find her husband with the same expression, staring at her phone.
“No,” he mutters, just as his phone emits the same series of beeps. “Oh no, not now.”
He watches the joy drain from his wife’s face, replaced with confusion, disappointment, and then fear.
“Is this for real?” She asks, holding her phone up to show him the screen; large black letters, an H and a T, stand side by side over a thick circle on a background of red. The phone beeps again. The husband nods, showing her the same screen.
“It’s red. This is not a drill,” he mutters.
They stare at each other in silence.
“We should-” he begins but lets his sentence trail off.
“We should get to the shelter,” she says, breaking the silence that followed his words by saying what he didn’t want to. He nods solemnly in agreement, pats the roof of the van several times, nods again, and closes the door. The husband moves around the van, slides into the driver’s seat, and starts the engine.
“Doctor Jones should be heading there too,” he says, watching her through the rear-view mirror. “She’s the designated doctor. She should have the early alert system as well.” His words are just as much to comfort himself as they are to comfort her. He shifts into reverse, backs out of the driveway, and turns towards the hills away from the hospital.