"We're doing a rain dance," I yelled back.
"We sho' do need it. Do one for me too." Russell turned and took his wife Jane by the hand to help her down the steps. Jane had recently won another round with bone cancer, but the chemo left her feeble and a bit off balance. They carefully made their way to the car. Russell held her hand while she steadied herself and crept in.
"We'll do. Y'all be careful...it's gonna rain," I said as they were driving away. A triple flash of lightning lit up the northwestern part of the sky. The kids started counting 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7...then a rumble of thunder.
"Daddy, does that mean it's comin' closer, or goin' away?" Zuzu was looking up from the front sidewalk. I could see the darker spots on her shirt where the first drops had fallen.
"Well, let's wait for another flash and we can compare how long it takes to thunder again," said Nathan as he scanned the darkening skies. He had just gotten home from working four hours away in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. He had been gone for three nights so the kids and I were happily welcoming him home. Since he'd walked in the door, it was one question after another or a very excited summary of the last few days. Nathan didn't mind the onslaught of information, though. He answered every question and inserted the proper "wow" or "oh" where needed.
Then, a bolt of lightning. This time it was just over the horizon of the trees beside the house. 1, 2, 3, 4....BOOM!
"I think that means, whoa! Y'all come up here with us," I said as more flashes filled the air around us and disorganized rolls of thunder sounded from all directions. "Let's just watch it from the porch, kids"
Zuzu and Asher ran up the steps and stood next to us as the wind picked up and plump, round droplets of water fell to the ground. The thunder and lightning were coming so frequently that we couldn't tell which boom went with what flash. The wind was strong enough to sway the trees, but it still seemed safe in our haven on the porch.
"Get in the house. Get in the HOUSE!" Nathan had his back against the wall of the house and the kids turned to shield their eyes from the dust that began pelting our faces. I was looking at the silver maple in Russell's yard when the leaves and bows began to whip wildly back and forth as a wall of opaque wind and rain rushed straight at us with the force of a hurricane. It only took one or two seconds at the most, but everything seemed to move in slow motion.
"Get in the house!" I reached for the handle to usher the kids inside, but the wind was so strong it pushed the door shut again. The trees next to the house were bending in frantic, low, unnatural ways. The creaking and moaning that came from the branches seemed to echo the warning that something bad was about to happen. I muscled my way through the wind and opened the door as dirt and leaves were thrown into my mouth and eyes. We pushed our way into the foyer and shut the door behind us.
Moments later, as we were huddled in the basement, the sound of a bird chattering signaled that the worst was over. Nathan, Zuzu, Asher, and I carefully stepped outside to assess the damage, completely forgetting that dinner was cold on the table.