*****************Without warning I am transported back to the covered green deck on the house near the creek. I am 4, maybe 5, sitting in the dark night with my mother. The deck seems so high. I dangle my favorite doll over the edge, feeling that thrill of near loss. What lies below is only darkness and depth. If I let go, she's gone forever.
"Remember what I told you about the leaves?" she asks me.
"Yes, but I can't see the leaves," I respond.
"But can you feel the storm? Feel the spark in the wind?" I can't see her eyes, but I can feel them watching for a response
I nod. "Are the leaves flip flopping?" I ask.
"Yes," she says, "If you look closely at that tree you can see them."
I stare hard, barely able to make out the individual leaves in the night. Then the first bolt of lightening illuminates the sky, and I can see the leaves flopped with their bellies facing the starless sky.
"Did I ever teach you how to count between lightening and thunder?" she asks me.
I shake my head.
Lightening flashes again.
"One Mississippi, Two Mississippi, Three..."
Thunder roars in the distance.
"Three miles," she says.
"Three miles?" I repeat.
"The storm is about three miles away. Count the seconds between lightening and thunder and that's how far away the storm is."
Lightening stabs the blackness and I begin "One Mississippi, Two..."
Thunder pierces my ears and shakes my small frame.
"It's moving fast. The storm will be here before you know it," she says as she hugs me closer.
The rain starts. Big, heavy splashes on the wooden railing.
Lightening streaks through the night and before I can begin my count the thunder rumbles overhead.
"See," she says, "That means it's here. Right over your head."
The rain is coming quicker now. The drops are smaller, but more persistent. The lightening and thunder intertwine and flow within one another until I'm certain that the large, crackling spears of light are causing the rumble through my teeth.
We sit in silence until the rain subsides and the flashes becomes softer. Again the bolts of light and the rolling noise is separate as the storm moves west.
I climb the hill to my car and stretch my legs against the bumper.
"Looks like the storm's comin'" a man grins at me as he rolls past on his bike.
"I think so," I respond and climb into my car as the first drops splash across my windshield.