Day 45: A Mighty Storm

A Mighty Storm
Matt Zurbo.


This story grew around four living things. It can get confusing at times, but so can life. That’s what good about it.

 They say the eye of the storm is still and quiet while the world rages all around. But this storm didn’t have an eye, the little bass fish never stopped being scared and Billy and his father never felt safe, or stopped being brave.

The storm itself was a magnificent thing, terrifying, heartbreaking, life threatening, life saving, inspiring, grinding, and, like most storms, it started out as hot air…

The sun burnt down on the ocean with such pleasure and bite one day, that some of the ocean’s enormous weight rose into the sky, became clouds, and the clouds grew and shifted and hurt and became a storm.

The sun burnt so long and proud that a small bass fish was carried up with the moist air that forms rain, into the clouds. The air was damp enough for the small bass fish to breath, but as it rose it saw its life in the ocean, where everything that has a fin can fly, fall away at great speed, and was very afraid.

It rose into the heart of the storm, (where it was buffeted and blown and it swirled and spun and was kept way, way, way up high.) It cried for the crabs it couldn’t see, the seaweed it couldn’t eat and the coral that kept it safe when the tides rose and fell.

The storm (approached the shore, growing from a distant smoke, until it filled the entire sky. It) was angry, and in its heart, besides a little bass fish, it had hunger to burn. The storm, like all storms, was the hungriest thing alive.

Billy sat (on the sill of his window, in his old house, in the hills above his town by the sea,) watching the storm grow and grow. Its shadow swallowed (the good mood of holiday makers, the light in the air, the glass of the ocean and) the dry taste of summer – and Billy was exited and glad.

Billy ran (around his house), battering down hatches, tying up pets, wishing the roof good luck, then made his way through the rising wind, (into the middle of his yard) to greet the storm (with a smile).

Billy’s father was a fisherman, (working at the docks down bellow. He and the rest of the crew tied down their boat, secured their crayfish pots, lowered their sails, and) As the first drops of rain fell, he preyed.

And the storm just rose and rose and rose. It was furious. It was starving. It was in love with the land and wanted to push at it and soak it and cover and worship it, and drown and break it if it could, if it dared.

The little bass fish inside the storm (tumbled and bounced on the hardest, coldest of air and) was so afraid. It thought it was dead, it thought it was in hell, it was dizzy and freezing and missed home and didn’t want to die and tried not to think at all.

The storm (let its wet fingers rush across the beach), following the wind. It rained, and it grew, absorbing the moisture from the trees in the hills behind town. It rose as though gathering forces, as though it would not be denied. It took in legends, (Vikings, Gods of Weather, Gods of Rain)

(and stories that fishermen tell to scare their child into staying on shore).

It took in thunder, lightening until every drop in it was heavier than soil. 

Billy’s father knew the ocean, he knew its challenges and moods. Weather was a living thing to him: his life, his food and blood. To a fisherman weather was as solid as his dinner, his family and his wage. “Don’t you dare challenge my livelihood!” he called.

 The storm rose (on the shore break), again and again, until it scraped the stars. “Come on, I dare you…” Billy smiled (from his front yard).

The wind howled (in power lines), sang the coldest song (through light posts and masts), it rattled and hissed and pitter-pattered, until, finally…

“I dare,” said the storm.
(Then the storm toppled over itself, falling all over the land.)

The storm had no arms, it had no legs and it had no eye. There was nowhere in it for the little bass fish to hide. All the storm had was an angry heart and all the heart was made of was rain.

It opened itself, bleeding and throwing water all over the land, (and when it did, the little bass fish began to fall.)

It (pushed across the beach, the town, the hills. It danced on roofs, lifted sheds, broke dreams, flooded streets, scared cats, felled trees and grounded birds. It fed gardens, watered crops, cleaned away the grime of living, gave life to ponds and washed salt from the air.) ruined and saved lives and raged and loved and was hungry and didn’t care. Every drop was full of all things, all emotions, and all that mattered to it was its hunger and the land.

Billy stood in the storm, cold, scared, happy and alive. (It tried to blow him over, left its taste in his mouth, chilled his skin, and wet him to the bone. It thundered at him and threatened with lightening and he laughed) As long as he was wet like it was wet, as long as he was pushing into it like it was pushing at the world, as long as they were sharing thunder and lightening and fear and joy, he was a part of the storm.

(Shudders flapped, stop signs wobbled, trees hissed like furious snakes and the poor little bass fish tumbled and fell and landed on Billy’s lawn.)

“What was that?” said Billy. “Hey, are you alright”? he asked, but nobody heard. His voice was scooped out of his mouth and spread across the land. (He leaned into the wind, pushing against it as though trying to shove a fat man out from his home), and made it to the bass fish, (who flopped and flipped all over the grass.)

“Little bloke…” said Billy (and gathered it, and some water, into his hands)

The little bass fish was horribly scared. Something big and pink and soft had it in their claws. It wondered if it had been eaten and why it hadn’t yet died? It felt the great weight of living outside water, and the huge, monstrous boom each step made when a creature walked on land.

The storm grew hungrier as it rolled inland. (It flooded streets, and broke windows, and made some farmers cry as it washed away grain, and others cheer as it filled their empty damns.) It spread forever, and wherever its centre wasn’t, it fell like simple rain.

Billy’s father looked (through the sea spray and all the clicking and clacking pier sounds) into the heart of the storm, which (was black and tumbled, and) seemed to call his name. Billy’s father took it personally. He knew the storm would destroy him and his boat if it could, so he (held down his crayfish pots and) hated it, because in wind like this hate was all he could throw.

Billy ran (through the wind and rain) towards the docks, (with a puddle of water and a little bass fish in his hands.)

(He pushed his feet through the swollen gutters and dodged any branches that might fall. When he finally forced his way to the water’s edge)

(He looked into the little fish’s eyes.)

For a moment – just a moment – by looking into the fish’s eye, Billy could see what it was like to live within the ocean’s underside.
(He saw plankton and kelp, other fish and abalone. He saw sea horses, barnacles and the teeth of a thousand creatures bigger than a little bass and saw even more ways too die.)

This was no hero. It was a scared little fish. But, by being scared, it somehow had babies, and drifted in occasional warm currents, and had rare moments when it was full and everything was fine, and stayed alive.

“For life…” Billy whispered, (and threw it in the air.)

The storm blew and hollered but couldn’t stop the little bass fish as it rose with Billy’s throw, then began to fall.

The little bass fish (fell through the wet air. It) was so scared if it could speak it would make up new, bigger words to describe fear. Then, (with a splash,) this tiny creature landed in the smallest part of a bay, (under a tiny dock), within an enormous ocean, that connected it to the world.

It swam away, (through rough, salty waters,) watching for things that might eat it and looking for food.

“I catch them and you throw them away again!” Billy heard a laughing voice call. (He looked up to see his father on the fishing boat, cleaning up in hard but easy rain, and realized that they had finally been passed by the heart of the storm.)

The storm wasn’t done, though. It pushed on and on, trying to cover the world. Over the next week it would move with the earth (consuming towns, dust and highways)

Until (somewhere over the desert) it would run out of hunger and anger and love and push and finally blow out and die.

For the moment, though, the rain didn’t fall, but simply land. (Bobby and his father watched the storm’s back as its fierce, solid heart rose over the mountains and away. The sun tried to push through, lighting up its weaker spots, creating a shifting light that was yellow, and grey and solid black in turn). The air was cleaner, now, crisper. Sweet and sharp. It smelt good, it tasted fine.

(Bobby’s father put his arm around his son.) “What a beautiful thing is life,” Bobby’s father said, as they made their way back through town.

And the little bass fish swam back out to sea. It just swam and swam, for miles and miles and miles…

The End

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