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  • Writer's pictureKayleigh Willis

'The Color of Thunder' by John Dorroh

I sat on the deck reading Mary Oliver’s “Dog Songs” for the third time, waiting for the approaching storm to drop the temperature. After mowing the grass for the second time in less than a week, late spring was slowly morphing into another summer of endless garden and yard work. I wanted out.

Where are the fireflies? I wondered. They’re late.

The thunder rolled in the northwest preceded by magnificent flashes of salmon-purple light that looked like an artist’s palette. The giant oak responded with its usual threats – the widow-maker that had been hanging in the same spot of over a year, and other branches of questionable integrity, some of them dipping so low that I could reach out and pull them onto the deck.

My beautiful girl, Izzie, must have sensed that danger loomed as she put her right paw on the sliding glass door.

“Okay, girl. You go inside and leave me out here to tend to the weather myself. See you in a bit.”

I like storms. I like the thought of being in danger, feeling vulnerable and open to nature’s whims. I don’t like straight-line winds or tornadoes, or a lightning bolt that burns down houses like so much kindling. But that’s part of it.

My mother was terrified of storms. She made us unplug all appliances and sit in the hallway and pray.

“Unless you’re praying to the Lord for protection, don’t talk. Be respectful!”

The rain drops were heavy, as if they’d been traveling for a long time. I realize that there’s a lot more to it – the physics of raindrops – and I’ve read the literature. The hail started falling from a different direction than the rain and before it was over, the deck was almost covered with a substantial coating of icy balls.

Izzie was pacing in the kitchen. “Let’s go down to the basement, Izzie. Hurry! We may be having a tornado.”

She followed me down the 10 steps into the basement where we sat on the floor, her head in my lap, my left arm resting on her back. I swear I heard her ask me to pray. So I did. Just for Izzie. I said a short prayer, asking for a hedge of protection around the house and for friends in the path of the storm.

It got quiet but I knew that it wasn’t over. It never is.

The next morning the sun lifted itself up over the line of trees that line the back of the property. There were branches everywhere. Big ones as large as a man’s torso and small ones the size of a garter snake and every size in between. The mail box lay crushed in the middle of the road. I spotted more than a dozen dents on the hood and roof of my Civic.

“Great,” I said to myself. “Wonder how much that will cost?”

My cell phone exploded in my pocket. It was my ex.

“I’ve had an accident. Can you come pick me up. Please?”

I fed Izzie her breakfast and left her in the dog run.

“Be good, girl. Don’t know when I’ll be home. “But it won’t be long. I promise.”

Copyright. John Dorroh.

Some of John Dorroh's high school science students incorporated science principles and concepts into cool science fiction. They knew that he liked poetry but urged him to join them in their sci-fi world. Although not exactly like theirs, they appreciated his efforts. His work has appeared in Potato Soup Journal, Bindweed, and many others. He writes a lot of poetry and travels with the purpose of having experiences about which he can write -- both fiction and poetry.

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