I had no idea that the orange, horizontal lightning would change me in such a short time. I had walked to our mailbox just as the clouds quickly rolled across the sky and I stopped in the intersection to watch the light show overhead.
It reminded me of watching what my father called heat lightning one summer night so long ago and that memory made me miss him more than I have in the past few years. Neighbors came into the street as the power went off and we all stood together watching the sky as it turned from yellow-orange to gray. Little was said and I think we were all lost in our own memories and thoughts.
I left the small cluster and by the time I had reached the wrap around porch of our Queen Anne house, the wind had arrived. Rob met me at the side door and urged me to come in, but I remembered my plants and ran to move them. By the time I had finished my tasks, I had reached the curve in the porch and turned my face away from the wind just to see the top of the maple tree across the street being sheared off, lifted and dropped onto the empty neighboring house. All I could think of was broccoli and the way I removed the stems from the florets.
I called out to Rob and I tried to move forward to him. I leaned into the wind and stretched my hand out to him as I could not move forward, but he could not hear me as he stared into the roaring wind. I had never stood in wind gusts that strong and I had survived two hurricanes. It became a moment frozen in my memory – the outstretched hand, the roar so loud that it deadened all other sound, and watching Rob stare into the face of the storm.
Few things frighten me, including the scary basement in my house that looks like the set of Saw. I handle emergencies well and I’m prepared for them, but that night I think I saw a future I am not ready for yet and it scared me – my hand reaching and finding no purchase in his.
One of the characters in my last book asked if great love required great sacrifice. I don’t know. If you’ve been lucky and you find the right person at 19, you think that they’ll always be there. Now, so many years later, I’m not so blind and all I can think of is that empty, outstretched hand and it terrifies me.