Short Story: Bolt


by Richard R. Barron

I sat on a folding chair on my balcony, waiting. The black sky all around me was momentarily quiet. A few seconds before, a flash of lightning hit the ground to the south, tripping the breaker on my air conditioner, silencing it as well.

I relaxed in the momentary lull. My camera pointed to the sky southeast of town, where there had been a heavy concentration of thunderstorms. I looked at it, then decided it was time to reset the shutter. I reached up to the cable release and closed the shutter, then wound the film and opened the shutter again.

Trying to photograph lightning is a waiting game. It requires patience and voluminous amounts of film. The camera and I stared at the sky. Occasionally we would see a dim flash that would brighten the clouds for a moment. Then as I watched, there was a blinding crack in the heavens right in front of the lens. Quickly, I closed the shutter, and knew I had the picture I wanted.

A few seconds later came the report of the miracle of heat and light, high pitched at first, then rumbling lower and deeper. I paused for a breath of the rainy air and to admire the depth of this sound. It was then that seeming all around there was a flood of blinding white light, and at the same time a punishing explosion of thunder, deeper and broader and harder than any before. The sound rattled the balcony, the chair, my heart, my world.

Though startled, I immediately closed my eyes and felt the energy pound through me like the rewards or punishments from God. I listened to the echoes strike the city’s buildings around me.

I listened to the voice of the storm speak directly to me. It said, “You are alive.”