Between Pancake and Whiskey Points, Lake Superior – August 26, 2013
The storm came at midnight. I thought it was a dream at first. Lightning fell like rain. It flashed so fast that the world glowed as if the sun were up and flickering like an old lightbulb in the sky.
The air shook with sound, constant, a long moan that would not end, broken only by sharp cracks and booms, as spears of white light ripped from cloud to water, splitting the sky in half.
The air didn’t move. Nothing moved. Not the water, not the wind, not the breath in my chest. Nothing but the edge of a cloud flickering white to gray to black as it raced across the horizon.
Then it came in a moment, like a flicked switch, like Hell breaking on the shore to swallow the world whole. Wind smashed against my tarp, ripping up an edge as a flood of rain poured sideways out of the sky. I grabbed at the fabric, twisting it in my fingers, my weight pulling it down against the splatter of rain.
The world flashed out of the darkness. Whitecaps filled the water and clouds glowed white-grey, barely fading to black before bursting hot again, popping bright faster than my heart beat.
The tarp shook like a sail and I clung to it. Water soaked into my clothes, beaded and slid on my skin. I twisted the tarp over my arm like a shield and leaned in, feeling the rain pound against the fabric, the wind rip at its edges as the world burst in and out of existence.
I held and held, my arm aching, trembling with cold, slick with water. Then in a moment, in a flick of that same switch, the storm gave way. The strobe of lightning slipped past. The rain ceased. The wind faded into stillness and the water fell flat.
I lay in the darkness, my hand still curled in the tarp, and listened to my breath rise and fall from my chest as the last flashes of light faded in the distance.