Truth told, I don't know why I count. What does it matter how close the storm is? It's coming for me just the same. There's nothing anyone can do about it. You can't run.

It’s raining while I write this. Hard. You ought to see the clouds. They look like dark tidal waves. And in the middle of them, flashes of light, followed by low rumbles. If I close my eyes, the rain almost sounds like a stadium full of people.

This is the best time to sit on your porch. You can see the whole forest soak in a good drink of water. If you’re lucky, you might even see a tree get hit by lightning.

Just be careful.

My daddy’s friend got struck by lightning once. He was on a job-site. He felt his hair stand up. So, he laid himself flat on the ground, spread-eagle.

He said it felt like a firecracker went off in his brain. The blast blew off his shoes, burned his scalp, and ruined his hearing. He was never the same. They say he used to be a quiet man who tucked in his shirt; afterward, he was a sloppy, chatty night-owl who liked to chew ice all the time.

He told folks lightning was the best thing that ever happened to him.

Even so, Daddy said whenever it started to rain, he’d sit inside his truck, quivering until it passed.

Daddy, however, loved storms. Whenever he saw lightning in the distance, he’d start counting, “One Mississippi, two Mississippi…” until we heard it shake the porch. Then, he’d say something like, “’Bout two miles away, getting closer.”

“How do you know?” I’d ask.

“Old Indian trick.”

He’d rock in the porch-swing, watching. We’d sit there without talking—which is something best done with family members. If you spend time sitting with anyone else, even close friends, you talk too much. That’s no way to watch rain. You don’t gab during storms.

I’m seeing more lightning.

“One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three…”


Moving closer.

Truth told, I don’t know why I count. What does it matter how close the storm is? It’s coming for me just the same. There’s nothing anyone can do about it. You can’t run.

That’s how the universe works. Whenever the temperature is right, the whole world gets saturated. All your plans, ruined. People you love, (snap) gone. Old trees, thick ones, split down the center by a bazillion volts of electricity. Life will change, on you—no, explode on you. There won’t be a reason for it.

And when it happens, you’ll lay on the ground, spread eagle, terrified. It’ll blow your shoes off. You might even lose things you think you love.

Get ready.

It’ll be the best thing that ever happened to you.

1 comment

  1. Beth Currie Gillion - July 2, 2016 11:57 am

    There were four of us. Our Daddy would tell us that noise attracted lightning so we learned to be real quiet during the storms. I was grown before I realized that that meant he and Mother had some peace from four loud children sometimes, even if it took a storm.


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