It began as a whispered threat, this latest storm of ours. There was something in the air, a cleansing tonic, a murmur of sharpness.
The trees on the hills looked different, then, seeming to stand out in sharper focus, in cleaner profile. It was the magical paintbrush of a gentle sun brushing the front of them, against an ominous, creeping black background. And the blackness grew higher yet, until the western sky was a massive wall of black and swirling gray.
People stood outside and looked, and tried to find a weather report on the radio, and called in the children from play, and made sure the windows were rolled up in the cars, and let the dogs come in. In the fields, the cattle and horses trotted around, snorting softly as the dark sky swallowed our world.
And then it came, gently at first as a reminder to get in the house, then the wind brought buckets of rain, drenching the deep grass and slashing at our homes. Cars in town slowed to a crawl under the onslaught. People parked and then dashed to the nearest building, wondering as they did, just what was so important that they had to be out this afternoon.
We flinched with every flash of lightning, every smashing thunder. In the cafes, patrons looked out at the parking lots now turned into waterfalls and nodded as though in wisdom.
"Think it'll rain?"
"If it don't it'll miss a good chance."
We listened for something else, too, hoping it wouldn't come. As the storm shut us down to tiny worlds inside, we kept one ear cocked for the tornado siren. Nothing. Good.
The storm lasted for two rinses down at the Curl Up 'N Dye beauty parlor, through a light trim at Kelley's Barber Shop, and half a chicken-fried steak at the Mule Barn truck stop. Then it was over except for the gutters running like trout streams, the new sun contrasting with the blackness of the rest of the sky, and the dripping of our world.
We won't have to water the lawn today. Life is good.