nature writing part 10 (storm)
Posted February 16th, 2018 by Swallowtail
in new york/massachusetts
The night is dark and tinged with red. Bright colors and music explode from the ground up, dusty lanes are lined with a neon buzz. Above me, the stars shine brightly and the moon hangs still and golden, everything calm for a second more. Not far away are gently rolling hills, coated with pines darker than the sky. Storm clouds loom over them, giant and steadily moving. Lightning flashes vividly and illuminates the clouds from within with brilliant hues of red, orange, and purple. The air is thick with cicadas and the promise of rain. We count the seconds between jagged lightning bolts and the low rumbles of thunder, anticipation building as they grow closer together. We’re shivering from both cold and nerves, and can’t stay still as we watch the black clouds roll closer and closer, now covering the hills. We feel the sudden rush of strong cold wind, damp breath that sticks our clothing to our skin, and then we hear the rain as it thrums violently against the ground. The storm rushes into our ears, and we have just enough time to exchange glances before it hits. Rain slaps our arms as we hold them up, flattens our hair and runs down our faces. It is suddenly a thousand times darker and we hear voices all around us rise loud into the air before they are battered back down by rain. Lightning flies down in fearsome branches now on this side of the hills and explodes directly above our heads. Thunder fills the air, shakes the ground with its crash, drowns out our words. It is suddenly apparent that we can’t continue standing here in this dry, flat field, so I lean close to the other two and yell to be heard. We run quickly down the hard dirt paths, slipping but not falling on mud that has just sprung up. In places, the water has pooled above the dirt and dry dust still swirls in circles on the surface. I feel like I should cross my arms over my head, although I know this will do absolutely nothing. Water has soaked my hair, my clothes. It runs into my eyes and ears and mouth, cold and indistinguishable from the air. Above us, the sky lights with a thousand colors, searing and lovely. Below that, flags snap back and forth in the rough wind. Trees at the edge of my vision are tangled up in themselves and each other, their leaves are ripped away and flung into the storm. My friend stops me, she points across the field and yells something. A tent has been torn up from the ground, now it tumbles over the tops of other tents, a lopsided boat over a multicolored sea. Another tent rises up into the air now, small and yellow. Ours is full with belongings and staked down with long metal spears, it won’t, or at least shouldn’t. We’re now on our street, we skid down the hill past solid cars and trucks and rippling tents, then past a tall flag that is rainbow in the light. The flexible pole has been bent by the storm, it now dips up and down just out of our reach. Here, we turn right and skid under an open blue pavilion, collapse on tarps that have collected glistening piles of water. My heart thuds loudly, I struggle to breathe and so do they as we laugh together in little gasps. The ground is cold against our backs, the air thick with rain as we drag it into our lungs. There is some talk about getting in the car, since it would be safer there, but even as we speak we know we’d rather stay here where we can feel the storm all around us. I close my eyes but I can still see the flashes, hear the loud thunderclaps, the thrum of rain on hard-packed earth, the sighing of tall grass as it is bent flat to the ground, the crack of tree branches and the thud as they fall. Against my spine is the earth, against my face the sky, and that is all.
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