A storm blew in early this morning, cold and strong. I woke up startled with the boom of thunder, wondering vaguely if I was still asleep. It was black outside, but a strike of lightning managed to light up my room as if it were day. I fumbled around for my phone on my bedside table, feeling the cool hardness of the wood beneath my fingertips until I made out the thin, rectangular object. I shivered. I tapped a button, and my phone came to life reminding me that it was 4:31 a.m. I should probably try to go back to sleep.
I tossed and turned for awhile; it could have been minutes, it could have been hours. Sleep can be elusive. Like a dark and quiet serpent that weaves its way through the night, creeping slowly, but deliberately, through the night hours until day finally breaks through the foliage of a wild, jungle mind- I waited for sunshine. Thoughts clouded my vision as I stared up at the ceiling that flashed with each new shock of lightning. The wind was blowing hard, and I heard branches snapping against their will. I wondered about my place in the world.
A light came on from down the hall, and I was aware without really noticing that my mother had gotten up. Moments later, I heard footsteps going down the stairs. A quick silence followed by the mumbled voices of the television made me feel more awake. I strained my ears listening for warnings of impending doom as another roar of thunder echoed through my walls. Minutes slipped by, and I felt a sense of calm as the voices were switched off and my mother made her way back up the stairs and to her bed. She switched off her light, and I was back in darkness. Relative security.
The storm raged on, and I wondered if day would ever come. I wondered why rain was rejoiced in some places and cursed in others. I thought about tears and rain and wondered if they were somehow related. I’ve heard that people tend to be more sad when it’s raining; I wonder if that’s because they think the sky is crying, so they think they should too.
Somehow I started thinking about the neighbor’s chickens down the road. How must they feel about all this rain? They roamed free, and from what I had seen they didn’t have a shelter. Where were they now? I thought about how happy they looked when they were scratching around, wandering wherever their feet took them. So carefree and wild, they never paused for a moment as they reveled in the sunshine of poultry youth. I pictured them now, cowering in the trees and clutching branches that broke, flying without a place to rest in the dark. Freedom, I guess, could be a scary thing.
That was the last thought I could remember before I fell into a fitful sleep. Bedraggled hens haunted my dreams, and I could see tears running from their eyes. Maybe it was just rain. It’s hard to tell the difference sometimes. Lightning and thunder played with each other through the night, animating my dreams with rumbles and flashes. I’m not sure when they stopped.
The blackness of night had lightened to the grayness of day. The thunder and lightning had subsided, but the rain was still falling. I noticed that it was gentler, though. The wind had settled from a gust to a breeze, and the coolness of the morning startled me into pulling on a sweater. The sleeves were long, and I pulled them down over my hands like gloves, sliding them down the rail of the stairs.
I took each step slowly, not wanting to break the magic of a still house. Reaching soundlessly for the door, I opened it carefully and stepped out onto the cold concrete of the porch. Socks were an afterthought at this point, and I realized I wasn’t really missing them. The solidness of the floor felt reassuring beneath my naked feet, and I walked out to survey the wet world around me.
Green. Everything looked so green under this sky of gray and rain. Leaves glistened and sparkled with drops of water covering them like beads of a strewn necklace. I spotted a few limbs down in the yard, their pieces jutting out like claws from the earth, bitter about their brokenness. The potted flowers we had on the porch steps danced in the vibrancy of their color as rain glazed over their pink blossoms. The world around me seemed more raw and real, and with a deep breath I took in the smell of fresh rain and the freedom of a new day.