I inherited it.
I learned to be alert to the slightest rumble, even in my sleep. Unplug every electrical appliance. Take the aluminium off the "bunny ears" on the tv. Avoid the windows. And for God's sake, get out of the tub! Get away from water! Do you want to get electrocuted?
Growing up in the South, this is the litany of my summers. At least, when we lived with Granma.
Always the fear that the wind and the rain and the white hot Devil's Forks would somehow find us.
Years later, she told me the story of her mother, my beloved great grandmother, unused to the country and the language and this weird weather and how she would gather them around the kitchen table. Late at night, rousting nine children from their beds to hold hands around the kitchen table and pray for the house to be spared. How the first television Grandpa bought--the first in the neighborhood--blew up because it was plugged in during a freak storm. How my mother, my uncle, and my grandfather once outran an Illinois cyclone in a 62 Chevy truck with one missing fender and a questionable battery.
But they made it. In every story, they made it.
But the story always starts with the thunderstorms. And she puts a brave face on it. But she's a grownup who is scared.
I'm scared of grownups, but we huddle under blankets and pray and pretend to be brave until the lights come back on. And I'm brave for her, too.
I pretend to be brave.
Now she is small and weak and in that fucking bed, too far gone to remember what brave is. Half the time she doesn't remember who I am. But I sit in the chair next to her bed, holding her hand, mumbling nonsense to comfort myself.
It is near a window.
The noise is sharp. We both jerk.
"Get away from the window!"
Did I imagine it? Does it matter?
I let go of her hand.
I walk in thunderstorms now, not sure if it is in honor of her or daring someone, something to honor the debt I owe her.
I am terrified of them. But I want one, just one, to come for me.
I owe her that.