174 / 365 – Distant Storm

SARAH BERGMAN

Awake again. Looking up at the ceiling. Shades of darkness, the dark in the room and the blue black light from outside. When the moon is more full it sometimes lights the room. My mother says, “Read a book when you can’t sleep.” Sometimes I think I could read a book by that moonlight.

I don’t know why people think reading a book helps you fall asleep. It never helped me do that. I read something and it seems like no matter what I read I find something that makes me feel anxious, makes me feel more awake than I was already. I was reading a book Leah’s friend’s mother gave me, a book about Norwegians settling on the prairie a hundred years ago and all of the terrible things that happened to them. It made me think of all the terrible things that are happening to the farmers around here, and why they’ll never be able to afford coming in to the cafe and why it will slowly fail until I can’t pay the bills and we’re broke. Or the scenes from the terrible winters made me think of all of the things I need to do before the cold comes again. Or that I can barely afford the heating bill. Jackie said, “You should just read one of those throwaway celebrity magazines. You hate that stuff.” She gave me one to take home. But it was full of marriage and betrayal and divorce and it brought back all my nights of worrying about my marriage and my divorce and I felt sick to my stomach and I had to get up and walk around the house, I was so agitated.

I think it ends up being better if I just lie here. There’s a storm coming on. I can hear it off to the west. Low rumblings and flickers of light. There’s something comforting in the trouble of storms, awesome power that can humbles the smallness of this town and all the things in it that we think are so important. When I was young my mother told me thunder was the sound of god’s footsteps. It used to make me shudder when I thought of that. I don’t think I even believe in god but I still think of that when I hear the thunder coming closer and it makes me shudder all over again. But I’m not afraid. The storm is coming up now, the flickers of lightning, and I can see flashes of the room, suddenly little glimpses of the trees outside, the room. There’s something else about the storms. They make me feel at home. Rain is starting to pelt the windows. I read once somewhere that a big storm has more energy than the first atomic bomb, something like that. (See, I always find something to worry about.) There’s the power of destruction there, but somehow it’s also comforting. It’s like an acknowledgement that we live between beauty and destruction. Everything flickers back and forth between light and darkness. It’s all here.

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