Waiting Out the Storm

August 18, 2010
I ran up to the porcelain bowl and retched until the bacon bits and partly-digested lettuce leaves came back through my mouth—this time heading in a direction opposite from my stomach. With my head still hovering over the toilet, I grabbed at the toilet paper roll next to me and wiped clean my mouth. I pivoted around to find my fellow band members in the door of the one-room girl’s bathroom. They were obviously worried about me, so they let me skip clean up duty in the band room.
After the scorching heat in the morning, I felt absolutely terrible—and it was only the first day of band camp. I couldn’t fathom how tomorrow or how even the next week might feel. So far, all I knew was the heat was too much for me. I hated roll-stepping and I hated the clarinet, but most of all, I hated marching band because my mom made me do it. I had already fainted on the football field, and I had had enough. My section leader had told me that I was overheated and dehydrated—lack of water, she explained. Now as I approached the door on my way out, I saw a flood of water on the floor—wet sopping footprints coming from the door.
Apparently, the thunderous pounding I had heard earlier wasn’t just from the heat-induced headache. The other people in the band had been mumbling something about a “bad” storm but compared to what was before me in the open door, “bad” wasn’t the proper description. Rain came down in torrents from the coal black clouds. The dirt trail that led to the parking lot was muddied, puddled, and quickly filling with water. Earlier that day, I had suffered from lack of water; now, I was certain that this deluge of water was going to kill me, in a slow watery death.
I started to take a small step outside the safe haven of the band room when I heard a thunderous crash of lightning not far in the distance. I retracted my foot quickly. The rain poured harder and the wind blew the trees until I was positive that they would break under the tremendous pressure. I couldn’t stay under the overhang forever because I knew that somewhere in that flooded parking lot, my mom was telepathically yelling at me to hurry up. It was now or never.
With all the courage I possessed, I bolted head-first into the storm. I hopped over puddles and shielded my face from the pelting rain. With glasses, it was already hard to see as the raindrops made their suicidal fall against my lenses. I threw a glance toward the ditch next to the pathway and found it almost completely filled with water—probably waist deep in rainwater. I carefully watched my step as not to fall into the ditch and drown. I found my way back to the parking lot and despite the poor visibility conditions I could not help but spot my mom’s yellow car. Overhead, the sky flashed with a blinding spidery white light that streaked across the ominous black clouds. With that, the rain began to pour harder than ever.
I yanked off my glasses (for they were no longer useful to me) and shoved them into my shorts pocket. As soon as I had done that, I regretted it; everything was blurry, and when I tried to focus my eyes, raindrops cruelly pounded onto my face. I could still see my mom’s car—I mean, it was just across the street from me—but rain blurred and blinded my already-mediocre vision. This wasn’t the kind of friendly summer rain that was warm to the touch and was kind enough to lightly patter against your skin. No, it was cold and unfeeling and as the wind howled, I could feel my wet clothes become much colder. I began to walk toward the car when I felt most of my leg fall and sink into the flooded street. The street had to be at least two feet deep in water, and as I trudged through the cold rainwater, I found my legs even heavier from the excess water that weighed down my shoes. As much as I wanted to run through the flooded street and to the car, I knew that if I tripped from running, I’d be face-down in the water—the last thing I wanted after being dehydrated was to be drowned.
Finally, I had reached the car, but when I got to the passenger side, the door was locked. I took the heel of my hand and banged it against the door as hard as I could, when I felt the door unlock. Sopping wet, I clambered into the car and slammed the door behind me. Before I could wring out my hair or comment on the weather, my mom threw her arms around my shivering, wet body into a vice-like embrace. “I kept having thoughts of you getting struck by lightning. Next time, call me to tell me that you’re all right,” my mom sobbed into my shoulder. I pulled back slowly and saw moisture in my mother’s eyes. She was just as frightened as I; I had been through the storm, but she had been the one waiting for me to come back. I didn’t care anymore about how bad practice had been or how she had been the one who forced me to try marching band. I reached out to my mother and pulled her into a hug. There we waited out the storm in the safety of a shield made only by the bond of a mother and a daughter as the tide receded from the road, and the last thunderous booms of the storm could be heard fading away into the distance, like a decrescendoing timpani roll.

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