The storm came to me in a dream. In this dream I was at my teenage home again and the whole world had dropped into black and white. The house was dramatically lit from above but all around it was a great expanse of darkness. I wished to tell my father that I was going to walk a friend home but, for some undecipherable reason, felt slightly afraid of doing so. I opened the screen door to call into the house but then shut it. Working up my nerve I opened it again, and promptly shut it. The air was warm and damp outside. From far off in the darkness I could hear claps of thunder closing in on the house. A third time I pulled on the screen and my father, alerted to some noise at the door and perhaps suspecting one of the cats wished to be let in, appeared in the kitchen with an inquisitive look. I told him that I would walk my friend home and be right back. He nodded ascent and went back to work on his project.

I do not know which friend it was that waited for me on the lawn; her head up watching the sky as it flashed intermittently around us. The thunder came closer. She was familiar and yet unidentifiable as any person from my past or present. I walked this woman into the dark and out of the light illuminating my house. After some time I returned from the darkness alone. Somewhere in the darkness my friend had returned home safe just as I now was.

I entered the house and my father beckoned me to sit down on the sofa. He had made something for me— fashioned it out of clay. It would be an aid to me in the days to come. Whatever it was glowed brightly in his cupped hands, and he told me a brief recounting of the creation of the world as he held this strange light. It wasn’t a creation myth from any culture I recognized but, somehow, it seemed plausible. My father is an unfailingly honest man and I knew that this story must have been something he’d encountered in his studies.

He walked carefully with his gift over to the sofa and set it down on the cushion next to me. It seemed to glow from an inner light as it lay on the couch: a living light that flickered in strength. Here was a tiny sculpted baby such as you might see in a seasonal creche with closed eyes and rounded terra cotta form. But unlike those static devotional sculptures this one held its own light within it. I looked closer. There was something else. . .

It seemed that the storm was on top of us now. The thunder rattled the branches of trees and shook the windows of the house. The muggy air had become a conduit of electrical current.

It was breathing.

In the flash and snap of lightning I could see the little chest rise up and down. What sort of gift was this that my father had fashioned? I could hear the wall of rain coming out of the darkness, moving across the neighborhood roofs towards our house; carried on a wave of sound and energy.

I woke with that dream rattling about my mind and the old Victorian house I call home creaking and popping under the power of a summer storm breaking the night.

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