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A menacing storm cell hovered over the home of a fearless six-year-old child and her sleeping parents.

“Look at her when the lights go out,” Darkness said with diminished pride. “No blanket pulled up to her chin, no eyes darting back and forth. Not a single fear of monsters emerging from beneath her bed nor within her closet. Not one tremble within my mysterious blackness. I’m such a failure.”

The child loved the dark.

Her imagination soared when the lights were out; fairies and monsters, vehicles yet to be designed that defy the laws of physics, sporting games of unlimited restrictions. It was her imagination’s playground.

“You’re not a failure; you’re bloody predictable,” Rain complained. “Night in, night out. Dark, dark, dark. BO-RING! I’m amazed you frighten anyone. The worst thing that happens when you’re around is someone slamming their big toe into the bedframe when they get up to wee. Plus, you’re easily eliminated with the flip of a light switch. Hardly scary, you are.”

Darkness cast shade towards Rain as it continued splashing its frustration.

“I should be threatening agendas and lifestyles, torturing the senses with my constant pitter-patter drip-drop building up to waves of torrential downpour. Structures saturated, roofs ruined, and floods? Can’t have them without me. And how does the little one down there feel when I roll in? She blissfully meditates to my rush of condensation descending from the skies, wistfully fantasizing about some nonsense. Not a wet eye in her house. Truly embarrassing.”

“I should be the most feared,” Lightning flickered. “I have the power of the gods within me. I can split a thousand-year oak without sparing a spark. One zap to the correct power line, and the entire neighborhood is muted and blind. Meanwhile, Little Miss Happiness down there stares out the window, waiting for me to arc across the sky like a demented white rainbow. She’s not afraid of anything the lot of us produces. Definitely not afraid of the noisy one over there.”

Lightning waved a bright finger overhead.

Unseen but heard for miles in all directions was Thunder, cautiously watching the clouds, examining their swirling energy, testing conditions, and fretting over what brewed beneath.

“What are you up to, Blunder?” Darkness said with a menacing chortle.

“Shh, shh. I have to concentrate,” Thunder said.

“At least Thunder makes me feel important,” Lightning said. “It can’t do anything till I stir in the clouds.”

Lightning flicked its fingers, and a bolt bounced around within a menacing, dark gray cumulonimbus cloud. As soon as Thunder caught sight of it, she analyzed the expansion of the air within, inhaled an enormous gulp, and spewed out a rumble of sound, moaning with discomfort and adding a mournful “Sorry” to the end of the electrified eructation.

“You hear that racket?” Darkness said. “An apology for doing its job.”

“What would it take to get a bloody reaction from the little one?” Rain deluged. “Honestly, how difficult is a courtesy tremble or a supportive whimper from a six-year-old?”

Thunder responsibly belched a few more eruptions, then unbeknownst to the others, combined the warm early summer air with colder air from higher above and funneled its boomy eruptions down into a whisper to form words.

“Can you hear me, little one?” Thunder gently whispered.

“Yes,” she whispered back, a curious grin waiting to peek out.

“You’re not afraid of storms, are you? Rain, Lightning, Thunder… none of us bothers you?”

“I think you’re all fun,” she said. “It’s boring when nothing happens.”

“What about when it’s sunny, and you can play outside?”

“That’s when mom puts all that yucky goop on my skin,” she said with a frown. “I hate sun goop.”

“Do you like pretending? Playing make-believe?”


“If you pretend to be afraid of this next storm cell for my friends, I can bring you some fantastic weather I know you’ll love.”

“You can do that?” the girl marveled at the possibility. “All for me?”

“Thunder?” Lightning shouted from above. “What are you up to? I’ve got some voltage here that could use some sound effects. You fall down on the job?”

“Oh dear, I’ve got to go,” Thunder quietly boomed with a rumble of urgency. “What do you say? Wanna have some fun?”

The child smiled wider than rays of sunshine bursting forth through dissipating clouds and nodded her head.

Right on cue, Thunder burst forth an eruption of a window-shaking magnitude, echoing across the valleys and reverberating off the hills.

“Where you been hiding? We’ve got a storm brewing here?” Rain poured. “You’re not supposed to leave your station unattended! What kind of global meteorological claptrap d’ya think will happen next if one of us doesn’t show up? Rising oceans and extra warm fish?”

“It’s irresponsible weather like you that causes unrest in the atmosphere,” Lightning streaked. “You know we can’t cover for you in your absence.”

“How on Earth can I be expected to make you blokes look halfway threatening if you don’t act responsibly?” Darkness shadowed.

“I’ve been meaning to say,” Thunder erupted. “You are so bloody insecure you–”

Bursting forth from the child’s mouth was a wail so deep and intense, they all paused momentarily.

“Now we’re talking,” Darkness eclipsed. “Look who’s got their mojo back?”

Encouraged by fright and descending tears, Rain burst forth thick sheets of water, dense enough to block all visibility and wash away any environmental noise with an unyielding din. Thunder added to the cacophony with joyful bursts of electrical charges and a sonic frenzy that covered all the land within sight despite the blankets of blackness that Darkness spread near and far.

All the while, the child shrieked at every lightning bolt, every clap of thunder, at the white noise of punishing inches of rain and the mysterious and menacing darkness of night. Her parents attempted to soothe her as the cries continued.

The storm celebrated another terrifying evening over the land and a job well done.

The following December, Snow chilled over the child’s home and asked, “Where does this all go?” Thunder replied, “Over the child’s front yard. She greatly appreciates it.”

Jay Heltzer

Jay Heltzer writes attention-challenged fiction, plays bass trombone, digs sloppy fountain pen sketches, and is in pursuit of the perfect cheeseburger.

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