Gazing out the window with an afghan draped over her shoulders, Beth Castellano sits back to enjoy the pitter-patter of rain as a highly dangerous thunderstorm ravages a nearby neighborhood. “There’s something so comforting about sitting inside my warm house and listening to the thunder rumble outside.” She takes a sip of hot chocolate and lets out a peaceful sigh. “That was a big one,” she adds, referring to the sound of lightning hitting a utility pole one town over and starting an electric fire that ultimately causes the death of four teenagers.
Beth considers thunderstorms to be Mother Nature’s reminder to set aside some “me time.” Normally she likes to cozy up with newspaper’s daily sudoku, but it wasn’t delivered today. She settles on yesterday’s crossword puzzle instead. Beth will later learn that the paperboy was swept up in a flash flood at the outset of the storm. All those with information on his whereabouts are urged to contact local law enforcement officials at 617-996-4528.
Beth slips on her fuzziest socks and instructs her Amazon Alexa to play “Home,” by Michael Bublé. The song swells as a search and rescue team knocks on her door. She can’t hear the knock over the sound of her own humming. Another flash of lightning illuminates Beth’s candlelit living room. “We get so caught up in the stress of everyday life. It’s nice to have a chance to relax, you know?”
Outside, the search and rescue team watches in horror as torrential rain causes a sinkhole to form on Route 9, swallowing a school bus filled with students, brimming with potential, who were on their way to a local science fair.
The United States averages 51 annual lightning strike fatalities, placing it in second position just behind wildfires for deadly weather. Beth has long disregarded this information and regularly enjoys falling asleep to the sound of rain. “I might snuggle up with a book and turn in soon,” she muses as the deadly swirl of wind and electrostatic discharge swiftly closes in on her house.
“There’s nothing more calming than that,” she declares, mistaking the sound of CVS being swept up in a landslide and plummeting down a mountainside as another rumble of thunder.
As the town’s three dams break in unison, Beth changes into flannel pajamas and places a hot water bottle at the foot of her bed. Furniture floats through the streets and Beth pulls her velour sleep mask over her eyes. Dogs bark in despair and the wind begins to take on an ominous funnel shape. Beth, snug as a bug in a rug, smiles and thinks to herself that tonight has been one of the most relaxing nights of her life.