Defeating the Storm

-By Nikki Sherman

A veil of black clouds moved quickly across the darkening sky. They bathed the area in gloom as they travelled over the dull colors that had been left to wilt in the cold fall weather. The clouds finally came to rest over a brick house that almost seemed to be awaiting the omen.

“Wow, it looks like we’re in for a big storm.” I gazed out the front window at the crackling sky in awe, then stepped through the foyer into the kitchen.

My mother glanced up from preparing dinner and nodded just as the telephone began to ring. “Yes, it certainly looks bad. Would you get that?”

I complied, and quickly strode over to the wall, where the phone continued to buzz. The voice that filtered through the telephone after my initial greeting was encased with panic. “Nikki, could you please put your mother on the phone? Hurry, please!”

I immediately handed the phone to my mother without argument and stood back to watch. The tone in which my grandmother was speaking had been filled with so much anxiety, so much trepidation, that I knew—I just knew—something was wrong. My mother’s sudden gasp of anguish, and the way she had to catch herself from falling to her knees, confirmed my suspicion. Something was terribly wrong.

The rest of the conversation was short, and after my mother hung up the phone, she could do nothing but clutch the corner of the table. When she finally did gather enough strength to speak, her words were hushed with shock. “Zach was hit by a car. We have to go…now!”

Zach…my cousin…hit by a car? How could that be? He was only fourteen years old…the same age as me! Was he dead? Living? How could he be living if he had been hit by a car? But…he couldn’t be dead! There was no way…no way! Just two weeks before we had been at our grandparents’ house, and he had been teasing my friend by kissing a stuffed duck in front of her face. He had been so full of life then…such an enigmatic icon of the very definition of life! There was no way that Zach was laying in a motionless, silent, endless pit of emptiness!

My family arrived at the scene of the accident in hysterics, and we blindly stumbled toward the policemen that were blocking the entrance to the driveway. I saw my mother shaking uncontrollably, almost repeatedly falling down, and put my arm around her shoulder supportingly. It was then that I realized I was trembling just as violently as she.

A policewoman told us that Zach’s four siblings were still in the house, so we raced fifty yards down the road to the dark, gaping cave that was their home. It was a pit of uncertainty, where nobody knew anything. Nobody knew what had happened. Nobody knew where Zach had been taken. Nobody knew if Zach was dead or alive. Nobody knew anything—except that we would stay together as a unit, as a family. We would scream in agony as one, cry out in joy as one, suffer with the uncertainty as one, and pray for Zach to be given the opportunity to live the rest of his life as one…

Two weeks later, I stared at the barren walls of the elevator that my parents and I stood within, waiting to be allowed into the depths of the hospital to see Zach. My usually contemplative head was empty, void of any thought. I had been equipped with a creative mind, which tended to always be thinking, always be speculating, but at that moment the very same brain was devoid of activity besides following the motions of exiting the elevator, walking down the hall, and entering the trauma center.

My head suddenly awoke from its involuntary slumber as we stood beside my cousin’s bed, staring at his body. He was laying so motionless in the white sheets, so utterly motionless, that until I saw his chest rising and falling I was terrified that the machines pumping air through the tracheotomy in his neck had failed. After the initial scare, I tried to control the confounding thoughts that raced through my head and were causing my knees to shake uncontrollably. For a moment I thought that I was going to faint. The skin that covered my cousin’s body was so white, so utterly pale. He appeared almost…dead.

The next few months were a blur to my distraught state—a hazy, uncertain fog. Nothing penetrated through the wall that my brain began to form, dissipating the bond my cousin and I once had cherished. My heart didn’t want to lose such a strong link, but my subconscious forced the ties to be snapped. They were severed raggedly, but still snapped nonetheless. Even when the news began to improve—Zach’s eyes were open, his hand moved, he nodded his head, he began to speak—the connection remained broken.

Many months after the accident that had changed the lives of a family forever, we received the news we had been hoping to hear. Zach was officially confirmed to be free of his interminable coma. It almost seemed unreal. The very thing we had been praying for had finally been granted.

After hearing the news, I stepped over to the window and gazed pensively at the clouds rumbling over the house. Although the light was just a small dot in the gloomy ordeal, I could see the end. It was so near that I could feel it. I was almost unable to contain my joy, and it was in this state of bliss that I vowed to reconstruct the bond Zach and I once had retained. He would return to health and we would regain that special tie that only he and I could fully understand.

Suddenly I saw something that had to be a mirage in the sky. Peeking through the thick darkness of the clouds was a single beam of sunlight. It was weak at first, but then it grew larger and larger until finally it overtook the heavens. After a bitter battle between two supreme forces, the light finally regained its glowing radiance, and the storm was defeated.

Copyright © 2021 Nikki Sherman