By Doug Elwell

Summer thunder rolled across the prairie in the distance—in the middle of the night. It roused me from a dreamless sleep. I lay on my back—hands behind my head—propped up on my pillow to listen.

I listened, then watched, the storm unfold through the slice of the night sky my window allowed. The summer thunder rolled across the sky like empty rail cars trundling over the trestle above the river south and west of town. Almost in view, strobing flashes of lightning were followed by sharp claps, then the rumbling thunder seconds later. Mother taught me to count the seconds between the flash and the clap to judge how many miles away the storm was. With each flash and clap, the storm rolled closer—unfolded in front of me.


I sensed a small presence in the dark at the left of my bed near the door to my room. A small, tremulous voice, “Can I get in with you?” I would lift the cover and Sissy’s little body slid in next to mine. It trembled with each flash and clap.

Then wind whistled around corners, whooshed through branches outside my window. The storm—the lightning and thunder and wind was above us. Each flash blinded momentarily, each crack reverberated—shook the bed. There was no lag time now. The lightning and thunder were one outside my window. Pelting rain sheeted against rattling window panes and scraped across the roof like crumpling gift wrap on Christmas morning.

When it passed, Sissy arose—slipped away. She came and went with the storm.

It was a long time ago.

bobbie and me in maine1

Doug Elwell is a native Illinoisan who writes short creative non-fiction and fiction. He can be contacted via email at:

About first person productions

My blog "True Stories Well Told" is a place for people who read and write about real life. I’ve been leading life writing groups since 2004. I teach, coach memoir writers 1:1, and help people publish and share their life stories.
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2 Responses to Sissy

  1. Feels like I’m there. Like all your writing!


  2. Dougl says:

    Thanks Martha. This memory came back to me some time ago when I was awakened in the night by thunder and lightening.


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