It had been a long hot July day.  Billy had been working out in the cornfield hoeing, sweating from the beating sun.  In just the last hour, the weather turned from the dry sweltering heat to a strong wind from the west.  Ominous clouds began to fill the sky as the air changed and Billy knew a storm was coming.  It was just after four in the afternoon and even though he still had more work to do, he did not want to be caught out in the field if a storm hit.  Storms could be as dangerous as stepping on a rattlesnake barefoot.

As he walked toward the little whitewashed house he shared with his attractive young wife, he saw her taking in the wash, which meant she knew the storm was coming too.  She was a shapely woman, neither fat nor thin, with long curly brown hair tied back with a white silk ribbon.  The dress she wore was quaint, her favorite for working around the house yet she still had her sunflower yellow apron tied tightly around her waist.

Billy and Norma had been married the previous spring.  She was a few years younger than he was but everyone thought they were well suited for each other.  Walking up from the barn, Billy called out, “You need any help with ‘em clothes Norma?”  She turned slightly, putting a hand on her hip and said, “No dear I’ve got it.  But you could get some wood for the stove for me.”

Billy nodded and headed around to the back of the house where they kept the wood stacked.  While he was sorting through the pieces, looking for ones that were small enough for the kitchen stove a loud crack of thunder came rolling across the valley.  The sound was so sudden and loud that Billy shot up dropping all the wood in his hands on his foot.

By the time he had gotten the wood picked up and entered the kitchen, Norma was sitting at the table folding the laundry she had hurriedly taken down.  The wind was becoming fierce outside as they could hear it whistling around the small gaps in the windows.  It was getting dark as the clouds pushed down upon them so once Billy had the stove going, he lit a lamp.

Billy went into the parlor and started to make a fire in the fireplace.  Norma followed him with her now folded basket of laundry and headed upstairs to put it away.  Outside the storm had arrived.  Rain pounded hard on the tin roof, sounding like a thousand cats trying to walk across it using their claws without success.  Flashes brightened the windows every few minutes as lightening struck followed by the crashing break of thunder.

Billy sat in the rocking chair by the front window looking out over the front porch to the little dirt road leading up to their house.  He could hear the horses and cows scared by the storm during the breaks between claps of thunder.  Just as he was settling in to relax a bit after his long day of work, his pipe hanging from his lips and smoke curling from his nostrils, Norma yelled for him to come upstairs, quick.

Jumping out of his chair, Billy took the stairs two at a time stopping in his tracks at their bedroom door.  Norma was standing at the window pointing to the tree.  It was swaying in the wind dangerously close to the house.

Then it happened, with no warning or anticipation, like the snapping of a rope; it was done.  To Billy it seemed to happen in slow motion.  Lightening slithered through the tree slicing off numerous limbs, hit the window melting the glass, and striking Norma just under her right breast.  Billy did not even hear the loud snap or deafening thunder as he watched Norma fly across the room hitting the wall with a dead thump.

He stood in shock, staring at her body, a small flame burning around the impact point on her dress.  Then the world started again, he grabbed the blanket from the bed and threw it on her putting out the flame as he knelt at her side holding her face in his hands.  She was dead and although his heart did not wish to acknowledge it, he was happy.

 

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