We were there to witness it. She came closer to me, gazing deeply herself, seemingly acting affrighted. All too hexing, really. The spectacle was now at its fieriest. We were safe from it all, though not untroubled. Unrest surely settling. Words could hardly do much. Hoping such malaise would deepen only this much, it nonetheless kept amplifying. Morose, malign marvel and withal no less electrifying. Sorely so. In this minute of the day, we felt swiftly stranded. Solos. The town, in its growing sense of hiding, was dimming. Consciously, even. Pausing there, blinded and bewitched, you conceded to contemplation. Surprise or not, it was not something to be undone any longer. Sounds started taunting and urging. Mood itself, silent. Watching in awe, revering it as beautiful and constant. She looked at me with reproach and dazed. »Anna», I frightfully whispered. Rapturous signs were now filling the sky, swirling it into vexation. Everything else was still in place. We ended up scorning these days for being so endlessly, unwaveringly torrid, bleak in their intense sunlight and cloudless suffering. To an extent, it became truly pointless to speak of or bitterly shout at such dog days and town fevers, or even bedamn summer itself, afresh in its extreme every time for the past while. Myself, I could resist such unpleasantness, often dashing out of the house, just taking the heat wave on, going slowly to certain places, then returning the same distance, all drenched and dizzy. She, however, would constantly try to fight it off, doors all shut in the house at her command, air breezing powerfully to her content, staying on late enough in the evening to earn my dissent. And now, even if for completely different reasons, almost to mirror such moods, she was heading off in the modest and possibly cooler retreat of her parents’ village and I was not accompanying her. We left the block and dragged to the bus station nearby, much too cautious not to miss it or even have to run after it, enough time to idle in the open and end up panting by the time it would arrive. A single bench, with a dirty screen in the rear, half arching above, placed in a vast open, extended so by the supermarket with its hardly busy parking, its giant sign rusty, having stopped spinning in ages. The travel panel, to the left, yet to mark arrivals on cue. I’d usually stand outside the screen even when it would rain, but this time I was first to sit down, nudging the luggage by its extended handle forward and back, with her complying to sit beside a moment later. And with rain nowhere to materialize, it was a brusque gale, sweeping altogether around, that produced the main event; born almost from the dry spell itself, its attack blustery and pungent, its whoosh just as instant and without notice, its yellow dust apparently scraped from all places and now whirled chaotically. Getting heavy and shaky from the blows, the screen behind us started bending, enough to gasp a bit — and my girl did let out a sharp oof. Elsewhere on the street, seldom people were easy victims. The whirlwind was now neither enraging nor vanishing, not that its constancy wasn’t enough of a burden. It seemed set to go on like this for a while, the sky not quite clogged with dust but also far from lucid anymore, the drivers and the pawns on the sidewalk making their way through annoyed and startled. If all this was a great surprise to us, an old woman, hurrying to come and rest under the cover, seemed to think otherwise, eager to exclaim, more or less addressing us: »Could have seen it coming. Could have, indeed. With the weather dried up for days, this is what happens, no wonder.» Into the distance, the bus drifted. Quickly away. Our halt far enough for a lingering route. A gritty screech of wheels. Ready to leave. The sight now out there, but well within grasp. Every person impatient to swiftly move along. Specks of tempest, quickly gathering, were hardly promising in this chase ahead. The radio turned static. Bus driver vocal, as if his hard time not clear already. Turns and spurs along the avenues all the more anxious. »Tut-tut.» Cars were fending off in traffic, almost asking for trouble. The further into town’s course, the vaguer the entire landscape looked. Nothing worth leaving behind. The crowding within was reaching its peak near the frenzied to abscond center. Not the time and place for gestures. My phone buzzed asudden, but I promptly silenced it. I looked away. »Think it will be alright?» The bus made its stop just in time. She followed. A shadowy figure, fixating on me. Urging us to head quicker to the station got me a bad look. The rush inside was the cause of plenty tensions, but it was doubtful many people chose to hide there, given the suspicious lurkers around. The station was in enough misery of its own, painful to regard and of shameful standards, as to not attribute any of it to the dust twister. Not a subject to really think about, after all these years, yet coming back to mind and drawing a grimace as soon as you were there; its big cube interior looking more deserted than functional, the grey walls skinned and beyond moldy, its extension to the left awfully obscured and leading nowhere. The big panel, once up in front, still gone and replaced with just a TV screen at the entrance wall that you’d have to go round a few boutiques to view. The offices conveniently out of order except for two or three most of the time. The big verminous hall windows were buckling slightly from the strong wind. In the meantime, she wasted little time to get her ticket and come back, asking what else to do now. We stepped out into the open again, with six platforms to cross, their pillar covers gradually decaying. The rail gaps were not suited to simply lug the luggage across. A long train was currently blocking the passage, but was slowly pushed back in place. Ours was arriving.
We could have joked about her being the cause of such impending calamity building up, since it happened surprisingly often in the past. Her return last winter coincided with a blizzard just as riveting and extreme, streets in sliding lockdown, trains hardly likely to budge, the irony being that everything went fine until they got stuck about two miles from the city and remained frozen there for over an hour, with me waiting by my own on the platform, the cold eventually getting to my bones. And now she would travel straight into the lightning. Her mind, though, seemed to willingly wander straight there. The train, a single light stretching cart the shape of a blue arrow, pulled and stationed slightly behind.
Her place was up in front, where we already were, but I still lost sight of her for a moment until she climbed the small steps and came by the window. Those travelling away weren’t a pleasant bunch either, many journeying farther until the dead of night. Outside the cart, by the doors opening and closing, on and again, with a bothersome signal, certain people were still chatting or staying together for a couple more minutes, but not us. I could see her through the dirty window, not quite ready yet. A youngster besides her looked already lazy in his seat, but then started acting like he’d forgotten something important. After the whistle, she placed her hand on the glass towards me, instead of just waving. Maybe I should have done the same. I stood there until the train started moving, but no more than that, following it already from behind by the end of the platform.
Avoiding the tour back inside the station, a side passage was leading straight into the square, cars parked at random, the tickets lady not catching too many such flies in her space. Clouds were looming heavily, a glaring view that was mostly hidden from the other side of the building. Two fellows in the parking, least concerned about anything, were prophesying it all. »Look at those clouds, look at how low they are. They’ll rip any minute now. These are war clouds, just look at them descending. About time we got a bit of shower.» But it looked far more ominous than that, the black thick steam indeed so low it was touching the upper floors of the blocks and speedily spreading. Little choice but to go back to the bus, the chart showing just a couple of minutes. There she showed up again — no, waiting ever since, in fact. A shadowy figure, fixating on me. She followed. The bus made its stop just in time. »Think it will be alright?» I looked away. My phone buzzed asudden, but I promptly silenced it. Not the time and place for gestures. The crowding within was reaching its peak near the frenzied to abscond center. Nothing worth leaving behind. The further into town’s course, the vaguer the entire landscape looked. Cars were fending off in traffic, almost asking for trouble. »Tut-tut.» Turns and spurs along the avenues all the more anxious. Bus driver vocal, as if his hard time not clear already. The radio turned static. Specks of tempest, quickly gathering, were hardly promising in this case ahead. Every person impatient to swiftly move along. The sight now out there, but well within grasp. Ready to leave. A gritty screech of wheels. Our half far enough for a lingering route. Quickly away. Into the distance, the bus drifted. Murmurs of tumult, the sky slowly kindling and opening out its nerves within the heavy dark blue, apartment windows strangely reflecting the flashes from far off, all this could only suggest what was going on downtown, the place where we only just half an hour ago probably washed out by now, as well as what was was going to follow here shortly. No other option but to head back to the house. The supermarket was closing in time and everyone looked happy to retreat, a boy pressed by his mother. »Come along now, come now. Come.» Street lights were beginning to warm if only to a pale consistency, whilst going through the block corridor’s darkness, wind hissing at us and pushing us forward at the same time, was so much different in this situation. She went ahead and opened the doors in the house, a window neglected wide, too. I cracked a couple more in the balcony, rolled up the hangings, kept the living room unlighted, went near the window and stood there, staring far into the depths. The fire bolts were truly the most impressive in years, ravaging a few kilometers ahead and from there on to a stretch unending to the imagination, flickering and discharging at every tick; my breath, as well as other noises around the house, fainter than the rumbling going on, enduringly intensifying without rupturing, holding its mighty outburst for the perfect moment. Hard as it always was for me to tell real distances, I was still sure the northern part of the town and the fields beyond were completely consumed. Farthest on the horizon, I could spot the top of a tower and kept expecting to see lightning smash into it, the way they were cutting and lingering high and low. She finally joined, stepping into the obscurity of the room, quickly spoiling it by turning the lights back on, wondering aloud and checking up on me. The train, I remembered, the train. It must still be out there. Never gotten too far, in fact. Everything else was still in place. Rapturous signs were now filling the sky, swirling it into vexation. »Anna», I frightfully whispered. She looked at me with reproach and dazed. Watching in awe, revering it as beautiful and constant. Mood itself, silent. Sounds started taunting and urging. Surprise or not, it was not something to be undone any longer. Pausing there, blinded and bewitched, you conceded to contemplation. Consciously, even. The town, in its growing sense of hiding, was dimming. Solos. In this minute of the night, we felt swiftly stranded. Sorely so. Morose, malign marvel and withal no less electrifying. Hoping such malaise would deepen only this much, it nonetheless kept amplifying. Words could hardly do much. Unrest surely settling. We were safe from it all, though not untroubled. The spectacle was now at its fieriest. All too hexing, really. She came closer to me, gazing deeply herself, seemingly acting affrighted. We were there to witness it.