Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: STORM (10/05/17)
TITLE: A Storm to Share
By Noel Mitaxa
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Towering coastal pines accepted its challenge, bending to only slightly acknowledge the forces gathering against them.
The enveloping darkness suddenly ended Becky’s reading plans for her favorite place in the whole world; the overstuffed couch in her grandparents’ beachside cottage. Marking her place, she put down her book and stretched up against the couch, pressing her nose against the window and straining to take in what was happening outside.
Wide-eyed and heart pounding; Becky wondered if those trees would hold. And how safe was the cottage? With windows closed to prevent any curtains or cushions suddenly taking flying lessons offered by the mounting gale, her favorite place was losing some favor. Even with grandpa sitting close by.
“Grandpa, I didn’t want a storm spoiling my holiday,” she whispered. “I’m scared.”
“Storms can be scary Becky,” he replied, gently grasping her hand, “but they never last long. Let’s go sit in the swing-chair on the deck, and we can watch it together.”
She dragged her feet as they stepped out on the sheltered side of the cottage, but once in the seat, she quickly nestled into his armpit. “Grandpa, why isn’t the wind blowing the storm away? It’s getting closer and closer!”
Before he could reply, lightning flashed and crackled overhead, with a deafening thunderclap in close pursuit. Startled, Becky squeezed even tighter, catching his breath and delaying his reply even further.
“Becky, storms actually cause the wind,” he began. “They suck warm air into themselves and force it higher and higher. As that warm air races up into those thick clouds, it quickly cools and changes into water. From there it has nowhere to go but down as heavy rain.”
Almost on cue, the clouds suddenly blurred into mist, as a deafening torrent of rain burst overhead, pounding on the roof and compounding the cacophony that the thunder and the wind had created. Conversation was impossible, so the pair just sat there, spellbound and absorbed into the chaos that swirled around them.
Then, as fast as it hit, the storm stopped. In the silent stillness, Becky could smell the freshness almost reaching out to her, as she whispered. “That was amazing, Grandpa. I’m glad we could see that. And you know what? I’m not scared anymore!”
Grandpa gently planted a kiss into her hair. “Becky, I’m glad you’re not scared now. Storms are powerful, but they like to trick us. Remember how dark everything looked as the storm got closer – as if we would never see anything at all? But then, even in the worst of the noise and the rain, we could still see everything?
“But there’s something else for you after supper, when that storm has gone further out to sea,” he continued.
“What’s that, Grandpa?” she asked excitedly.
“Noo, you’ll just have to wait until it’s dark, little lady,” he answered. “Then you’ll know what I mean.”
Supper was not long coming - in measured time. But for Becky, despite telling Grandma what she had seen, and trying not to race her meal down, it seemed to last forever.
Eventually, Grandpa pushed back his chair and stood up. “Now, Miss Becky, Grandma and I will show you something from the beach that will take your breath away. But I’ll blindfold you first, until we get there, to make it really special.”
Grandma gave a reassuring smile, so Becky submitted to being led through the gate, across the road and onto the wide sandy space, where Grandpa turned her towards him and slipped off the blindfold. “Now Becky, look out to the sea,” he said.
Becky turned, and gasped. Across the darkness of the ocean and the muted tone of waves foaming at the shoreline, she could see that the storm was way into the distance, still tossing its forks and sheets of lightning into the sky.
And in a stunning display of constant role-reversal, she saw how each flash reflected onto the sea; instantly turning its blackness into a dazzling white; while the foam – which could not catch the light – responded by plunging into darkness.
Time and time again…
As the three watched, nobody kept score of all their gasps
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