I look out the window when I wake and smile to see blue sky and fluffy clouds after last night’s storm. I check the radar on my phone. Red and yellow skitter across the map toward my location. If I leave soon, I should escape it going south.
All packed, I point my car toward home. Driving through lush tree-covered hills for the first hundred miles, the clouds multiply to a blanket of white. I appreciate the loss of glare. The cruise control keeps a steady pace slightly over the speed limit.
The next hundred miles slip by uneventfully through ever flatter farm land. I pass semis, SUVs shoot past me, in a high-speed dance.
I am sixty miles from home when the first drops fall, spitting against the glass. I turn on my lights and use the wipers once and it’s over.
At forty miles out, I wipe away drizzle. Then the rain starts in earnest. The wipers set an even rhythm.
The skies open as I reach the city. Sheets of water obliterate my view. I slow to 55 and wonder how the vehicles speeding past me can see. With every swipe of the wiper blades I can barely make out passing lights and the white lines of my lane. I white-knuckle steer against gusts of wind, wondering if I should pull over. Narrowly missing a stalled vehicle to my right, I drive on, moments stretching like a taut thread.
Then suddenly it stops. I hear thunder booms behind me, but the world looks a little lighter. My foot on the gas goes a little heavier.
As I begin the twists and turns of the downtown highway, there is a bone-rattling boom and it starts again. I slow and lean forward, trying to glimpse my lane. A passing semi adds its spray and I coast for a moment in engulfed in gray. I plow through flooded low spots before I realize they are there.
I think, just let me get to the bridge. If I can cross the river the path will straighten and I will make it home. I tense as I approach the on ramp hoping no unseen car is coming my way, then hear the familiar whir of tires on steel. Up and over to the other side.
Cars and trucks whiz past me as I climb the hill. Another downpour, but this time with even rhythm and I can see. The steady rain lasts till I take my exit to the final two-mile stretch of highway. If I crane my neck I can still make out black clouds above me. But up ahead is clear cerulean sky. I smile to think I have outraced the rain, relax my fingers on the wheel.
Just when I think I have won, a long, jagged bolt of lightning comes literally out of the blue directly ahead.
Sobered, I cross the remaining mile to my country home, gratefully pull into my garage. Defeated but safe, I wait for the coming storm.