Lightning = Death

I love me a good summer storm. Thunder, lightning, the darkening sky, the heavy air- I love all of it. I’m the person who can’t wait to see if the power will go out and hopes it will because a night or two doing things by candlelight is an exciting prospect to me. And there are few things I like better than being able to watch the storm while I’m lying in bed at night, windows open to smell the rain-soaked air.

Until I moved here, that is. All of the above is still present within me, but there’s one added reaction: fear. That would be because a few days after I moved in, my landlord stopped by my room and said, “I just wanted to let you know that I had this room for a few year and, not to freak you out or anything, but the lightning sometimes comes into the house. I think it has something to do with all the water around it…”


Now, it’s true that we have a pool in the backyard, probably about ten feet from the first floor window. I’m on the second floor, not the first, but my landlord told me how once she was in bed during a summer storm and the lightning came in through the window and spidered out all over the walls and ceiling. And while I love lightning, I love it from a distance.

Because of this, I’ve been asked to close both windows in my room during a storm, as well as any of the others, if I’m here alone. We’ve been having quite a few storms of late, so if the forecast predicts one, I close all of the windows before I go to wherever I’m going that day. Yes, stuffy rooms suck, but burnt-down houses suck more.

Wednesday night (or rather, Thursday morning), I went to be around 2 a.m. At four, I woke to a huge crash of thunder outside my windows. My open windows. The sky lit up with crazy lightning. And though I was only half-awake, my brain sprung into action. “LIGHTNING!” it alerted my slower-moving body. “LIGHTNING! DEATH! IT HAS COME!”

Still mostly asleep, I jumped out of bed and closed not only my two windows, but the one in the hallway, which is on the same side as the Pool of Death. Of course, when I say “I closed the windows,” it takes a lot longer than the statement suggests. One of my windows, the one facing the driveway, is a stubborn little bugger that won’t stay up unless it’s held in place by a rain stick (it doesn’t demand a rain stick, particularly, or anything, but that’s what has been chosen.) In order to open or close it, I have to clear a space for me to prop one elbow so that it can be held in place while I remove or insert the prop. But it’s the window on the pool side that’s worse. It tends to swell when shut and stick in general when open, and in order to get it out of either position, I have to again clear a space and climb onto the windowsill. This task seems perfectly fine until you realize that you’re pretty much asking to be struck dead by kneeling in the sill directly in front of (and, okay, a story above) the pool. And of course, the window wouldn’t freaking move, so I’m slamming down on it with my palms, the whole time going, “oh my God, oh my God, oh my God” and flinching every time lightning streaked through the sky. Remember that all of this is happening at four a.m.

When I finally got all three windows closed, I tried to go back to bed, but something was keeping me from falling asleep: fourth grade science class. Or rather, the thing I couldn’t remember from fourth grade science class: was glass a good conductor or a bad conductor? Because if it was a bad conductor, I was a-okay. But if it were a good one… well, my bed is metal framed and basically, I was dead since it’s right in front of the window. And so it was that, until I fell asleep, I would alternately stretch out (making sure my feet weren’t touching the metal foot of the bed) and yank myself into the fetal position when I saw lightning again.

Oh, lightning. One day, we will again live in harmony. But not if you’re going to kill me.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Stuart
    Jul 01, 2012 @ 00:58:11

    Glass is an insulator (and therefore a terrible conductor)–that’s why they can use it in those plasma globes where the electricity shoots out in all directions. If it’s any consolation, humans are also not very good conductors, but we are better at conducting electricity than glass because we are, after all, made up of a lot of water. Other poor conductors of electricity: wood, plastic, rubber, electrical tape, and resistors with a large number of Ohms. But perhaps that’s enough physics for one day.


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