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Instructions to Defeat a Thunderstorm

A memoir that I had to write for english class.

A thunderstorm is a stunning rarity here – like a shapely, uneven pearl.  It is something beautiful, certainly, but dangerously beautiful.  In the last three years, there have been about three thunderstorms that I can remember.  In one instance, I was babysitting two children.  One of them, the older one, has Asperger’s.  Sometimes he is capable, putting himself to bed and eating his dinner without a qualm, but other times he becomes like a small child.  He cries for his mother and curls up on the couch like a sea urchin.  Only his mother’s calm words can uncurl him.  But on the night of the Second Thunderstorm, we decided to brave it together – the two children and I, with the help of their favourite television show.   We turned up the volume as the wind howled around us, the thunder booming in our ears, so that we made the most of their high-tech surround sound speakers.  Together, we watched ninja battles and shuriken wars as the thunderstorm swirled and shook around us.  By the time their mother came home, it was over.  Our ears were ringing from the noise and the children marched sleepily off to bed without a complaint.

But the First Thunderstorm was my favourite.  When it happened, I was alone.  I was without the instinctual, parental protection of my mother and father, without my siblings to yell and fight around me.  I had nothing to drown out the noise of the thunder, the high shriek of the wind, the moving of the chairs on the deck above, the violent flashes of lightning and the damp, foreboding smell of the coming rain.  But I swallowed my fear and walked, with my head high, to the piano.

Usually, as my fingers hesitantly press the first few notes, I am frightened by the loudness of it and engage the soft pedal.  On that day, however, the noise of the thunder and wind drowned out any fears of anyone hearing me.  My hands flicked through the music book, looking and looking for songs to play.  Finally, I pushed it aside.  The best of my repertoire was committed to memory.

The first song that I played was beautiful.  The notes sung as my fingers brushed over the keys, the pedal joining the harmony into a clear picture.  It felt strange, as the thunder crashed around me and the lightning lit the black and white keys, for such a peaceful, almost religious song to be playing, to be hanging in the air like a canopy, sheltering me from the storm.  But it also felt cowardly.

The second song that I played was sad.  The notes hung and then dropped abysmally as my fingers wavered, just barely in my control.  The pedal kept some notes behind, clashing, but the thunderstorm rid the air of dissonance.  My heart beat in my throat and my chest felt overwhelmed with emotion.  Finally, the song ended on a peaceful, calm note and my fingers lifted slowly from the piano.

The last song that I played was fast, challenging.  Not only challenging to my fingers, but challenging of the storm that battered the house, the trees outside, that moved the chairs on the deck, that filled the room haphazardly with blinding light.  I had never played that song so fast before in my life and my heart sped along with the tempo.  I played it faster and faster still, to keep pace with the thunderstorm.  The song was powerful, larger than I ever thought it could be.  The melody reared up before me, a roar to meet the storm outside.  When I had finished playing, I was breathless.

But the storm had subsided.  Daylight was breaking again outside and the wind had fallen to a slow breeze.  I had challenged the vast power of the thunderstorm, and in my foolish recklessness, I had won.

About E.K.M.

Studying at university, passing the time until a publishing Talent Scout comes to pick me up and whisk me away to a world where I can be an author without having another source of income. If only.

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