|Photograph Copyright 2013 by P-G Matuszak. All rights Reserved. Use of this photo requires expressed written permission of the author/artist.|
The sun was high. It beat down upon the desert plain as it did most summer days. For most, it would be unbearable. But to the select few that called this place home, it was just another sunny day. Jackrabbits scampered through the long, brown grass. Children played on the playground making the same sounds the coyotes did during the earlier dawn.
On the horizon it appeared, a storm. Monsoon season had started just a week earlier. However, its rains usually waited until later in the day, just in time to cool the air at night to make it bearable to sleep. By morning, usually the rains would have dried and the plants would appear just a little more green and a little less brown.
Most rains also brought thunder and lightning. It usually was fiercest in the mountains named after them, the Huachucas. But this storm was coming early. It was on the horizon and traveling fast. This storm was a black spot in an otherwise bright sky. The lightning hammered down to the earth. Its thunder shook the valley from miles away. Even at the distance, a red glow visibly radiated from the ground beneath it. It was as though Hell had opened up and was violently pulling Heaven down.
As the storm marched closer, parents brought their children inside for shelter. Stores closed expecting the worst. Nobody felt safe. Many of the more religious were wondering what the small community had done to attract such a horror. It appeared as though the four riders were on their way, and this very storm marked the apocalypse for this modest town.
As the storm reached the peaks of the mountains to the west, a few gathered outside of their apartment complex to bear witness to events at the fountain at the complex's entrance. A man dressed in a black, leather duster leaned down and kissed a young lady. He slowly stood up with a reassuring smile on his face. A single tear welled up in her eye and made its trek down her cheek as she returned a forced smile. She slowly dropped her hands from his shoulders as he leaned over to pick up his backpack. The man slowly turned and walked west, towards the storm. He paused briefly and waved one last farewell. He continued on his way. Moments later, his silouette could still bee seen when the lightning flashed. It was still early afternoon, yet the western sky was black.
A 7 year old girl looked up at her mother and asked, "Mommy, what is that man doing?". The mother replied, "He's doing something stupid, honey. He's going to give the storm a hug and see if it will be nice and spare us. It won't work though. He's headed off to get himself killed like the fool he is".
A 4 year old boy looked up at his father. "Daddy, I know what he's doing". "What's that, son?". "He's off to stop the storm. First he's going to talk to it. Then he is going to try to hug it and hold it until it gets weak. But it will be too strong to hold. So then he'll have to fight it like a superhero". "Maybe, boy, maybe. Let's get inside before the rain comes".
An old man watched. He spoke softly, but his wife perked her ears up to hear. "I don't believe that idiot. Back in my day we had more sense than that. We didn't go to fight a storm. Storms cannot be fought. They can't be reasoned with. You just have to tie yourself down and wear them out, praying for the best. Come on, Holly. I can't watch this. Let's get inside".
The young woman watched the storm grow closer. As it loomed on the western most edge of the town, she could see the rain and hail falling in the distance. They sky had gone completely black over the whole town. It was mid-afternoon but it the sky was darker than night except for the lightning flashes. The thunder shook the concrete under her feet. Another crack of lightning pummeled the valley. She counted: one-Mississippi, two-Mississippi, three-Mississippi, four-Mississippi. Again, the thunder shook the foundation under her feet. She turned, knowing time had run out, and ran for her apartment.
She locked the door and sealed all the windows. She got out candles in case the power went out, as it was mostly likely going to. She quickly checked th batteries in her flashlight. Then she sank to the floor of her bedroom and sobbed. She cried out to who or whatever was listening. "Please bring him back. Please bring him back to me. I don't understand why he had to go, but he did. I don't care if he wins. I don't care if he finds what he's looking for. I just want him to come back, please!"
She looked down and saw an envelope on the bed with her name on it. She opened it and read the note inside. "My dearest; I cannot explain exactly why I had to confront the storm. I have nothing to prove to you, myself, or anybody else. I don't know what awaits me in its wake. All I know is that I am called to do this. Please don't cry. If I don't make it back, know that this is as it was meant to be. If I do make it back, know that our future is certain, and it will be beautiful for we will be together. Know that come what may, I will always be with you even when our bodies are so far apart. I won't be gone forever. I won't be gone long. But understand, this is just something that HAD to done. It had to be me that did it".
|Photograph Copyright 2013 by P-G Matuszak. All rights Reserved. |
Use of this photo requires expressed written permission of the author/artist.
The storm arrived. Lightning lit up the sky. Wind howled. Rain soaked the desert sand. But the hail did not fall. The thunder did not topple the buildings or shatter the glass. The lightning did not set fire to the town. Nobody was hurt.
In the morning, the sun rose. Another hot Arizona summer day began. As the sun crested the mountains on the east of the valley, the young man came walking in from the west. His clothes were still drenched. His eyes were alive and staring at something miles away. His face was calm. He walked up to his wife and gave her that same reassuring smile. Her eyes lit up as she grabbed hold of him like she never again would let go.
Melissa asked Paul what happened. "It was just a storm. That's all, just another storm. It's over".
Deborah told Lizzie that the fool got lucky. Tommy told his dad that the man saved them like he said he would. Holly told Adam that he needed to let go of the past and let the kids run the future. Paul kissed Melissa again as they went inside to have breakfast.