This is a follow up to a posting of mine salvaged from Livejournal which can be found here.
It concerns one of the most intense experiences I’ve encountered in my life and one I feel is not yet culminated, but more on that later.
This time was different. In my awkward youth I did not recognize her passion, this time she made no such presumptions. No distant caress or tantalizing breath. This time she was Fury.
My path lay before me but over my shoulder a dark and terribly angel appeared on the horizon. Her sinuous shape still wrapped in those great wings that swaddling her obscured form in a bouquet of purple and black feathers. Where her feet touched the ground ruin and calamity followed.
I was in junior high and the klaxon storm alarms warned of the coming storm. In their infinite wisdom the school administrators decided to send all the students home early to the safety (and liability) of their respective homes. In the chaos and confusion I missed my bus and found myself walking home.
The rain was curiously light but a third of the sky was clearly delineated with a bruised and leaden pallor. I thought it was a reprieve but in truth, it was a prelude.
Some people and documentaries will tell you that a tornado sounds like a freight train but I could not disagree more. What it sounds like, what I heard before I turned to look behind me was something else. Imagine if a huge factory were alive and tortured unspeakably with unearthly pain and it howled out in a cacophony that could rip the sky. That would begin to describe the noise that caused me to turn as I crossed the street on my long walk home.
There, hundreds of yards away, was a column of purple and black, like the devil’s crutch it was gnarled and lazily picked its way across the field of the school I’d left some time earlier. It was moving with the gait of a horror movie villain, slowly but closing the distance with an irresistible determination and imperceptible speed.
I was near the senior high school in the area and decided to run for cover there. This would take me across a field, clear except for a single massive oak. As I ran the rain began in earnest and pounded into me like a wall of daggers parallel to the ground. Before I cleared half the distance I became aware that my feet were no longer touching the ground, in fact I was no longer moving towards the shelter of the school.
I had only a few moments to consider this before I struck the tree two or three feet from the ground. My hands locks into its surface like a drowning man to a piece of flotsam. With great effort I crawled around to the side opposite the approaching fury and pressed myself to the ground at its base. By blind desperation I drove my fingers like pinions into the hardGeorgiasoil. This was of little help as my legs and lower body were lifted and slammed against the ground again and again.
I do not know how long this continued but when it abated I was exhausted and hoarse. I stumbled to a friend’s house in a daze until I gathered my senses. When I finally got home, I stripped off my drenched but surprisingly clean clothes to find that the wind and rain had driven the dirt through them and directly against my skin.
Later I learned that the tornado had missed the tree and instead ripped the roof from the school I was running towards.
Years later I passed by the field in front of school, most of it had been claimed by a parking lot and the tree had been cut to the ground where only a spongy stump remained.
I think about this storm and the one of my childhood whenever the skies darken. I don’t fear storms but find them rather exhilarating and awesome. However, each time a particularly magnificent one breaks I can’t help but wonder if it?s the one with “unfinished business”.