This One Time, 110

This one time I was sitting out one of our every-other-day thunderstorms, watching from under the awning on the restaurant’s patio. There was a fair amount of water in the air, and I was getting damp anyway, no matter how close to the wall I sat. My white shirt wasn’t going to be too opaque after a while of this, but my bra gave pretty good coverage and today was one of those days when I just didn’t care.

I wasn’t angry or upset or anything like that. I wasn’t having a bad shift – except maybe in the way that there was almost no such thing as a good shift these days. Too much had happened. I was just exhausted. Everyone was. Exhausted and out of patience. Just last night I had watched a fifty-year-old woman break up a fight between an arguing couple all the way across the restaurant. She just got up, walked over, and faced them both down. “After everything,” she said, “This is how you want to spend your time?” Then she went back to her table and picked up her fork again.

Anyone who had anything to say about my shirt getting damp wouldn’t want to hear what I would have to say back. If I bothered to say anything back at all.

But this storm was something else. Thunder and lightning were so frequent that the flashes and the growling from the sky seemed utterly unconnected to each other. The wind came in punches rather than a steady flow. Watching the flashing behind the clouds, listening to the thunder run back and forth across the sky, feeling the blowing mist in my face, gave me something back that I desperately needed. The freshness of the smell of the water in the air, of the pummeled new leaves, the teeth-on-edge taste of ozone – it was like the world was showing us what it was like to be awake again.

Without really wanting to, I started looking at the shapes in the clouds. It wasn’t like there were actually separate clouds or anything, but the unsteady flashes from the lightning leaked through and drew bright outlines, lit some patches, and left others dark.

The first thing I saw was a leaping cat, coming down from left to right, from where the sun would be. Thunder dutifully supplied a growl. Next was a small bear-shape, seated, under the slopes of a mountain. After that, the sky seemed a bit more quiet. But then lightning struck right where I was looking, and blinking away I saw afterimages of my grandfather, upright but slouched like he was wearing his long raincoat. I saw this shape as far down the road I would be taking home as it was possible to see, larger than the buildings on both sides of the road.

The staccato bursts of wind and water finally got my attention as the hail started to fall. A storm like this, in this heat — this is tornado weather. I saw three funnels starting to come together at the same time, right near one another, like black claws coming down through the clouds. Then there was another bright flash and loud clap, making me flinch away. And when I looked up again, the claws were gone. More hail was bouncing in the street, though, looking like it would look if you’d dumped out buckets and buckets of cubes of ice for drinks out into the street. The ones that bounced up at me were starting to sting.

Then was as good a time as any to get in out of the rain and get back to work. Things were rough, but it looked like we were protected.

And maybe when I got home, Grandpa would be there, waiting.


April 20, 2011 · by xalieri · Posted in This One Time  


Leave a Reply