You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it. Robin Williams

Location: Kentucky, United States

Friday, October 24, 2003

A fictional exercise

I am sitting at the window, watching the weather roll in. Off beyond Baker’s Knob there is a purple mountain range of thunderheads. Lighting flashes inside the clouds and I count out loud, “one, one-thousand, two, one-thousand, three, one-thousand, four, one-thousand, five, one-thousand. The thunder rolls over us, an ocean wave of sound. The windowpane rattles. Sarah squeals and scrunches in tighter to my chest.

“It’s getting closer, isn’t it daddy?”

“Yeah baby, we’ll see the rain start any minute now.”

The wind is blowing hard, the trees bending and flexing with the gusts. Sleet appears on the bare ground in the side yard. The dog, tail between its legs, takes shelter under the shed. The sound of the sleet hitting our roof brings Kim in from the kitchen.

“Sounds bad”, she says.

My wife has a thing about storms. Raised in the mid-west, her family lost two homes to twisters, her uncle killed in the last. The family running to the root cellar, Kim looked back and saw her uncle swept along the ground like a leaf, bouncing end over end before being sucked up into a swirling black monster. The family lost the farm, called it quits, and moved back east to work in factories and retail.

“It’s okay”, I tell her, while talking at Sarah, “just God putting on a show.”

“God putting on a show Mommy” Sarah says, trying to act bigger than she feels.

Some of her mother’s fear of storms has past on to our daughter, whether through picking up subconscious clues from Kim, or just through genes, we don’t know, but it is there. That is why we set at the window whenever a storm comes, making a show of it, trying to tame the monster with stories and fairy tale lies.


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