Playing In Fire / by Kendall R

Above trees. The highest green is alpine grass. Soon enough, my hair is standing on end like that grass. A surprise lightning storm crawled over the ridgeline.

In the midst of the storm I not only feel the hairs on my arms stand up, I can feel the electricity. Smell the ionized air. I imagine that my bones are glowing as the tension hovers just outside my skin. When it’s upon you, it’s all around you. Even the ground feels unstable, like it might just vaporize under my next step.

Fear is a given. But so is awe. Enter power this size and voltage and I can’t help but giggle at the certainty that I have no control. I believe that if you die from a lightning strike, well, it was most definitely your time to go. If ever there was a moment when death was out of my hands, it is the second before the bolt strikes. So there is nothing left for me but to be afraid with a smile on my face surrounded by helplessness.

Experts say I need to squat to the ground, hopefully on some form of rubber, make myself small. Really the are trying to tell me to become as small as these blades of grass. Even grass gets burned. They are only offering some vague form of comfort knowing full well that you, me, and anything taller than grass is toast.

Running helps. I often run during these moments. Run is more a trot with seventy pounds on my back up a steep incline. Fireballs. Yes, I said Fireballs, bounce around and ricochet here and there with a blue-red otherworldly glow. The giggling part of me thinks I am in a Mario Brother’s game and there are no mushrooms in sight to give me superpowers.

I’ve been here before, in these storms. So much have I been here before I am probably too nonchalant about it. Maybe it’s the freedom of knowing I can’t control the outcome. I can only keep moving forward, or, stand still, small.

There is a light beauty on the other side of the storm. There always is… eventually.