Minutes ago the weather alert had sounded. We’d been scurrying to move plants under cover, check windows, and hurry children out of their showers.
Out of nowhere Qaiden announced, “That was thunder.”
The sky was still bright and blue.
Rap, rap, rap.
“Daniel? Are you out?”
“Yes,” came the low rumble of a teenage voice just changing.
Thump thump thump thump thump. Back down the stairs to the table.
We sat together facing the double window.
In a moment the sky darkened a notch and the front edge of the storm clouds peeped over the front of our roof. A curtain of rain pelted down where seconds before there had been not even a sprinkle. Dart spots dotted the road and driveway, still individual marks on the world.
In the next moment the rain slowed, softly blurring the separate dots into a shiny black surface. Steady but gentle. It grew darker still so that it appeared an hour had passed when only minutes ticked by. A brightness remained behind the blue house although it drew farther off, as if beyond a low roof of cloud. Two windows shone golden in the gloom from across the street saying, good thing you’re tucked tidily inside on a night like this.
Lightning flashed. Two. Three. Four. Crash.
And again but closer.
“How far away is the storm when you can count to three between the flash and the crash?” Daniel asked.
“Three miles,” his brother confidently proclaimed.
The street went black as deep night. No longer could we see the tree silhouetted against the distant brightness. The dark was total. Not miles away. We were in the heart of the storm. Lightning continued to streak all around. And now the rain intensified, not a curtain nor a gentle shower, this was driven by wind. Waves crashed over the curbs blowing saltless spray across the edge of the lawns. Thousands of drops leapt off the pavement as they hit and flew skyward again for the space of a heartbeat before crashing together against the rivers of water on this inland hilltop street. Minutes stretched this time in the embrace of the first summer squall.
Before we registered it the sky had returned a few candles of light. No longer midnight, it was once again evening, though seemingly later than we began. Gradually more light leaked into the scope of the window’s scene. Now the tail end of the stormclouds slipped past the edge of our roof, frayed and torn, yet all the closer for sliding in layers. Not the distant, muted and undiscernable ceiling of cloud. Solemn children, recently scolded, they clung to their mother’s skirts shamefully as she strode silently away.
And with the storm past, the blue house stood warmly inviting all to comfort, the stately tree once again silhouetted against a paler sky. Just over the edge of the hill a sliver of moon glittered against the horizon. One sleek black form dipped and swooped across the space between the houses, safe again to fly.
[Flashdraft-no pun intended]