Lightning on Independence Day

It had been a year since me and my family moved to Florida from Michigan in 2003. On Independence Day, my dad wanted to take me and my older brother and his girlfriend, Robby and Melissa, out on the boat to watch the fireworks from outside the jetty in Venice, Florida. We got our boat in at our private ramp for use by the neighborhood and and Dad started up the engine.

The boat puttering through the canal from our private ramp, and drove to the Marine Max and soon we drove past the other boats at high speeds within the Inter-coastal Waterway. I looked up at the sky, and saw that there were some clouds already being decorated with colors of the sunset as if belonging in one of Dali's vibrant and strange paintings.

As the boat turned a corner to face the west, I looked back to watch the other boats. To my surprise, a large ominous cloud was brewing on the horizon.

"Wow, look at that! It's going to storm, daddy," I exclaimed, gesturing at the sky.

"Yeah, it does look it," Dad said when he looked to see the sky, not seemingly concerned about the coming storm.

"Are we going to be okay?" I asked, not wanting to be drenched.

"We'll be fine."

Once we were out of the jetty, dad drove the boat out faster for couple of minutes then slowed down as he spun the boat around to face the shore. The jetty was now about less than a quarter mile away to our left. As we sat on the boat, we watched the coming storm continue to grow closer, moving westward in the time spent waiting for the show to start.

Just then, a lightning flashed beyond the jetty a brilliant orange bolt and the sounds rumbled through the air. I realized then how awesome the show was going to be--lightning and fireworks booming on the same stage and lighting up the sky with colors. Minutes later, I heard a soft whistling sound as another lightning flashed again and saw a trail of lit fuse, followed by smoke. The explosive powder transformed into brilliant display of red and green lights.

Another lightning flashed a yellow bolt as another firework exploded high up in the air, making the show more spetacular than I had imagined. The show continued on, the force of nature playing on its own as the people continued to light the fireworks on fire. Never quite in tandem, except once.

Later in the show, as I eagerly waited for one such moment. To my joy, an orange lightning lit the sky just as another huge firework exploded into red. Both sending rippling of thundering booms in the air, vibrating through my body.

I felt the first rain drop of the storm coming down softly. Several minutes later, the grand finale took place as the lightning continued to flash its wonders upon the 4th of July celebrators.

Then all was silent, except for the soft pattering of the rain and the occasional lightning and thundering of the sky above.

"What are we going to do now, daddy?" I asked him as Robby pulled up the anchor.

"We'll go to the South Pass, there will be too many boats trying to get through the jetty and in the Inter-coastal Waterway," he said, turning the boat south.

The South Pass was at least half hour south from where we were. I realized that we would be completely soaked and I put away my cochlear implant, not being able to hear the shattering sounds of the hard rain fall or the booming noise of the thunder.

The rain came down in worse than sheets of water, and my dad maintained the high speed--or so it felt like he was going hundred miles an hour, trying to get out of the growing storm. Our faces felt like they were being shot with hail by the rain. No part of our bodies was safe or dry anymore from the pelting rain. I covered my face with my hat, trying not to wince at the pain of the rain.

The storm was insistent on getting to us as thunder and lightning continued to increase in its furor, coming closer and closer to the boat. I opened my eyes to stare out of the boat and the whole area around us lit up in bright blue hues, sending giant vibrations of thunder through us.

Suddenly the boat turned to shore. Confused, I didn't say anything, knowing that communication between me and the rest of the world was lost now. Why were we going to shore now? What's going on? These were my thoughts as we got out of the boat, the sky lighting up often, allowing me to see in the dark easily.

I realized that we were at the Sharky's Pier as we took cover under the docks.

Facing the beach where our boat sat, anchored to the shore. The sky lit the beach in a brilliant color of purple. I sat there, awed by the sights--I knew I would never forget how the beach looked like when cloaked in purple light. As though I was literally in a different world where the night time was never truly dark, always cloaking the world in purple by some strange light source. In that scene, I saw the boat--now purple--bobbing on the water, being ravaged by the storm, but completely unharmed.

Having my cochlear implant back on, Robby explained why we took shelter. The lightning had been right next to us.

The Floridian storm, unhappy to have not harmed any of us, moved on away from us as the rain fell softer and softer. Dad then went inside the extremely busy Sharky's restaurant to call home so that mom could pick us up while dad drove the boat back to the ramp. Before leaving the beach, I stared at the sky, forever awed by the powers of the storm.

Never again will I disrespect the power of the storm, having literally lived through in the middle of it on the ocean. I turned and followed my dad by grabbing his arm so he could guide me away from the beach--and away from the fiery power of the storm.