I was 6 and this is still a vivid memory for me.
Running down Drummond Hill the rain lashed like a whip against my face, cheeks red and brow soaking. My clothes clung to my skin. The heavens had just opened without warning. The sky turned from white to grey in a blink of an eye and before I knew it the sheets of rain were lashing down.
I’d not got far to go, past the old school, round the corner and across the street. My feet were now soaked and squelched uncomfortably in my shoes, I could feel rawness rubbing at the back of my heels. I should have stayed at my friends house, why did I choose to run all the way home, alone?
Then it started. The thunder, crashing and rumbling over my head. The sky felt claustrophobic, like a low hung ceiling, everything was closing in. I was getting a stitch. I didn’t want to stop. I knew that after thunder came the lightning and sure enough just as I thought it a bolt lit up the dark sky. I was scared of storms. I hid from them even when I was inside the house. Under my duvet cover, safe, as mum went through the house switching off plug sockets.
Out here I was exposed, cold, wet, alone and petrified.
Nearly at the bottom of the hill, just a few hundred yards to go, more thunder, rolling this time. Another pang of light stripped the sky of darkness. I could see the corner of my road now. Lightning lit up the kitchen window of a house near the end of the road, an old bearded man looked out. Before I could pass his house, he was at the door. I panicked. I knew not to talk to strangers. But I was well mannered, soaking wet and scared. What if he invited me in?
I was only about five houses away from home, he was shouting and waving his arm, standing on his doorstep.
‘The tree!’ he shouted, ‘The tree!’
To my left was the Fosters lawn and a tree as old as the houses. I stood underneath it and shivered. It didn’t offer much shelter, the rain dripped off the branches, cold and unexpected. I was soaked through already. I stayed there. Quiet, frightened and cold, until the storm started to subside. I don’t know how long, maybe ten minutes, felt like days to me at the time. The rain lightened too. I looked back at the window, the man waved. I waved back and ran off down my road.
As an adult I know the WORST place to shelter from a lightning storm is under a tree. I think that is what scares me most about this story!