The three of us sat on the wide stretch of sand. Everyone else had left already, But we had wanted to watch the sun go down. It was probably time to head back, but we had a few beers, and a few cigarettes left and, as the darkness wrapped its arms around us, we were quietly transfixed by the flashes in the sky, far across the lake – probably somewhere in America.
We didn’t speak much. A convivial evening had been spent, and now we were tiring and just enjoying the calmness and the light show in our own ways. Though the sun had put its head under the blanket, the night was warm, and felt like it was getting warmer as the dark monsters in the sky grew taller and stronger and began to rumble as they spoke to one another – rolling and lumbering in our direction.
As the storm approached, it seemed to stretch its tentacles wider – seeking the edges of the huge mass of water, as an ominous cephalopod might, seeking some unseen prey.
The percussion that pursued the flashes was building nicely. The water ahead momentarily illuminated, and with each switching off of the light, our part of the planet darkened and we started to shuffle in our seats.
Perhaps we should be making a move. Not wise to be on this vast expanse of sand when the storm finally arrived.
As we gathered our towels, empty bottles, flip-flops, it started to rain. Warm, fat, slow drops that created large ink-splot shaped stains on our brightly coloured t-shirts.
Heading up the grassy bank toward the road we realised the thunderous friends above us were starting to get pretty aggravated in their conversation. Without an exchange, our legs started to move with a little more urgency. The rain was now getting heavier and we wanted to reach the partial cover of the trees lining the route back before we were wet through. Reaching the road, we took one glance back at the lake – in the instant that a streak of fork lightning unzipped the sky. Now on this side of the lake – in Canada. Right behind us – where we had just been.
Nervous glances were quickly followed by running legs, and laughter at our predicament. As the road started to become a river, we looked at one another with our clothes now stuck to our skin. Bare feet slapping down in rising water, lobbing fountains of water up our sun-kissed legs.
And then, without warning, a crack so loud our hearts stopped dead. The three of us hit the tarmac, as directly ahead of us, only a few feet away, lightning struck the road.
No laughter now. We righted our shaky legs and, glancing briefly at the mark where the power of all heaven had just landed, we ran with all our might back to the house.
Out of breath, excited and rattled, we poured ourselves at speed into the safety of the house. Dripping on furniture and carpets that did not belong to us, we threw our bags on the kitchen floor. I flung back the veranda doors so I could witness the continuing madness we had just escaped from, whilst my friend ran to the stereo and put on a CD of opera music. Cranked as loud as it would go, we had no fear of disturbing anyone, as the world was reaching a crescendo all of its own that could not be outdone. We sat on the veranda, watching in wonder as the trees thrashed, the sky split, with the beauty of Puccini behind us and the beauty of Mother Nature ahead – it was glorious, awesome, ear-splitting.
We didn’t discuss it when it was over. We went our separate ways, knowing we were lucky to be alive, and not just because we didn’t get hit by lightning.
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