Friday, October 9, 2015

The secret to catching lightning

Simple times.

Laying on the warm side walk trying to get the pill bugs to walk on my grass stained hands.

My tennis shoes still wet from running through the sprinkler.

Grandfather gets out of his faded truck and adjusts his overalls. He shuffles to the bed and digs around in the tools. My eyes switch to watch him as he pulls out a hammer. He digs a dusty red handkerchief from his bib pocket and heads my way.

I sit up.

He squats slowly down next to me. "show this to your brothers." he says quietly, dumping the contents of the kerchief onto the sidewalk next to me.

Almost before my mind can identify the quarts stones on the sidewalk, he strikes the first one with the hammer.

My eyes widen as I see tiny sparks flash as he whacks it into a chunky powder.

We share a secrete smile as he offers me the hammer.

And the idea that there are hidden magical things in ordinary objects is implanted in my head.

Before long, the wind pushes summer away and ushers in the rolling grey clouds that bring the fat heavy rain drops.

Thunder rumbles in the belly of the clouds.

My older brother collects four D batteries and designs the first lightning trap I ever saw.

He lays them out on the sidewalk in front of the house. and squats next to them eyes looking towards the clouds. He calls me over.

I stand next to him as he excitedly tells me, "I'm going to catch a bolt of lightning! This is my lightning trap!"

My gut sours and I feel the fear creep into my heart. I hastily look up and run up onto the front porch. I pace nervously watching him fiddle with his trap. Half expecting a bolt of lightning to blast him to smithereens. Every time the thunder rolls I run inside in fear.

Eventually he leaves to go find more batteries.

I open the door and run like a manic out and grab the batteries and fling them in to the bushes. I don't want my brother bolted dead by lightning.  I turn to go back inside and the hair on my arm bristles as lightning flashes over head.

I feel the sickly cold of the adrenaline release as I scream and take flight.

And the idea that the trap worked is implanted in my head.

Not long after in science class and we are discussing properties. How things have a solid, liquid and gas state.

I raise my hand, the shyness binds my tongue and I lower my hand. My question unasked.

what is lightning?

I read about it in the encyclopedias and learn its electricity/plasma.

I like that it doesn't fall into the other categories.

Or does it?

My mind remember the sparking quartz...the chilling trickle of the adrenaline...and I know I have answered my own questions.

The solid form of lightning is quartz.

The liquid form of lightning is adrenaline.

The gaseous form of lightning is....warm wind.

Knowing the forms it has makes catching it a lot simpler. To catch lightning all you need is 4 D batteries, and a net made of imagination. To set it free all you need is a hammer. But you don't have to catch it at all, you can just pick it up, and put it in your pocket.

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