PREVIOUSLY: The Storm By Beverly Jones

492 words
Beverly Jones
Lightning exploded behind the clouds massed along the horizon. They were not spears of light so brilliant they left violet afterimages on closed eyelids. Instead, the bolts splayed across the hidden sky, glowing through the clouds, casting a yellow sheen on the countryside.
Amy wiggled, impatiently waving her hand in front of her face, partly to brush away the insects buzzing there and partly to stir the air. The rough concrete of the porch scraped the back of her legs where her shorts didn’t cover. She winced. Her leg still stung where she previously barked her shin on the porch edge as she returned from the road where she looked for sign of Daddy’s car.
She leaned her head against the wrought iron posts holding up the roof. Sweat inched its way down between her shoulder blades, soaking the cotton shirt she wore. She could hear the fan humming in the room behind the open curtains. Amy was debating whether to scratch her back or go inside when she saw the lights of the car as it turned into the driveway. She sat still, waiting for him, knowing he would be aware of her sitting in the dark, watching the approaching storm.
“Hi, Sport. You’re still up. Waiting for me so late? It’s a beautiful sight, isn’t it?’
Daddy eased down beside her with a sigh. They sat quietly together for a few minutes gazing at the dark shapes of the trees and shrubs as they changed under the shifting light.
“Sometimes the trees look like big bears. And sometimes they are castles where the trolls live. And sometimes they are things I don’t know.”
“And sometimes they are only trees lit up by light from the sky. They’re only trees, honey. Maybe we see them from a different angle, but they are still only what they really are.”
Amy nodded. Daddy understood the fears. He didn’t laugh but helped her to see that even fears need not control her.
“Daddy, what makes the lightning tonight so different from lightning other times?”
“This is heat lightning. This is lightning that is taking place a long way off. Somewhere west of us it is really storming, but all we can see is the reflection of the lightning against the clouds. That storm is so far away we can’t even hear the thunder.”
“How far away? Will it reach us before tomorrow? Is it as far away as Indiana?”
He smiled in the dark at the trace of accent left in her voice. How her cousins teased her about it when they returned last year from working the fishing boats in North Carolina.
The smile carried over into his voice as he replied, “Yes, it could be as far away as Indiana. But I doubt it will stop our picnic tomorrow.”
Amy, reassured that the picnic would go on as planned, didn’t object as she followed him into the house to prepare for bed.

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