Blake Lockett

A Storm in the Summer

Of all the things I’m not good at, living in the real world is perhaps the most out standing. I never thought for a second me and my grand piano would part forever.

I had played on that thing every day since the day we moved from

Melbourne to

Victoria and lifted the dusty white sheet up revealing the old grand thing sitting there in the new, empty living room. Mum said it was an old thing, the original owners had forgotten to take it with them. Then the owners after that had no interest in playing.

I, on the other hand was a classic music buff. I played my grandfather’s old records of Beethoven’s fifth and ninth symphonies. Mum said the ninth symphony was regarded as Ludwig’s best work. I, however, prefer the former fifth. I wish we had more of Beethoven’s records and even Mozart’s, an even greater (I think) composer than Beethoven. My favourite of his is definitely “Requiem”.

Of course I never expected, even with heaps of practice to be able to achieve the greatness of any of these composers. I did aspire though. Mum said
“George, you can only ever do your best, if that isn’t good enough for people then punch’ em in the face!”

My first teacher, Mrs Jonas was always telling me to take it easy the first time I learned something new. When I started playing it took me a while to learn simple stuff like “Greensleeves”.

I was so in the playing, I forgot all about the real world all at once. All the problems I had in the past had disappeared. A few years ago my Dad split up with us and left me and Mum alone. I like to think we’ve done okay for ourselves here in this town, with this old, big house. Mum got a new job and I was sent to a new school. I didn’t make too many friends, but I did okay in classes, that’s what counts in the long run.

But soon the real world would come up and slap me in the face; I guess it was tired of me ignoring it. I was coming home from school on a road trail when I first smelled the smoke. I had walked this way many times before and thought it might be a local making a bonfire. But then I heard the burning, the sound of sizzling, frying, the smoke came thicker to my nose. I began to run. I ran in hope I could breathe fresh air eventually and to get away from the smell, I couldn’t. It was coming from all directions, everywhere.

The screams first came up when I was nearing the second road that lead to my house. At that moment I started to panic I looked north, the general direction of my house. In the distance I saw red blurs of heat swarming up through the trees. It looked like it was raining a thick red dust of flame. It was then I realized what it was, the smell of smoke.

I approached the road but it had almost disappeared in a thick fog of smoke. From the road I could see the flames clear in the distance, the only thing I could see in the road. A second later I was hit by an approaching car. I was thrust onto the windshield and hurtled back to the ground. Then everything was more of a blur than ever. The only thing I could see was the thick ball of smoke and fire in the distance, the storm like a fierce force of nature.
I was awake. I was in a strange smelling car. I could hear the engine working at full force, it throbbed in my head. I looked out the window. There was billowing smoke everywhere outside. I couldn’t breathe in the car, I thought I might be able to open the window but then I remembered. I knew mum had asthma. She had had a bad time with it a few years ago. Dad called the hospital that night she couldn’t breathe. I realized if something happened to her, I wouldn’t have Dad there to help me.

I started to feel the real effects of the collision when a burning feeling in my leg shot up to my throbbing head.  I rolled up my blood stained pants to my ankle to see the series of cuts running down my leg.

I caught a glimpse of the driver, an old grey haired man. He handed me a bottle of water.
“Pour this over the cuts” he said. “you really shouldn’t have run out on the road like that”.
“I was already on the road before you hit me” I said, as I poured the water over my leg.
“Where’s your house?”
“It’s in the direction you came from”.
  “The firemen are already on their way”.
“What happened?”
“I don’t know, I was out on my horse, I saw the barn burning from the distance. I couldn’t save them. I had to take the car and leave them. I just hope they can find their way out”.
It then hit me. And I began to pray Mum had made it out.

The old man dropped me at the edge of the highway with some police. I could see fire trucks from the edge of the road, sirens blazing, speeding down it. I could hear more sirens in the distance.

A policeman took me aside and asked some questions. He asked me about where I lived, and what family I had here. He just kept saying “We are doing everything we can for your Mum.” That didn’t sound too promising to me.

By the end of the day many people and cars were parked on the grass areas on the side of the roads. Tents were set up by men, I didn’t know who they worked for, and I was given food.

For two days I stayed with the police and hospital units on the road side. I was still asked a lot of questions. By that time an entire camp was set up. There was no sign of mum.

By the third day I was taken back into the town by policemen. I saw out the window the burned and charred houses. The policemen told me there were still some blazes but they got it under control.
I led them to my house or what was left of it anyway. If I hadn’t known the area as well as I did, walking home from school everyday, I wouldn’t know which direction to lead them in. The trees were charred and the ground was ash.

We stopped outside my house. All that was left was black rubble. When I got out I choked on the ashy air around me. I ran as fast as I could to the rubble that was once my home.

Then I saw it. In the rubble I could make it out, even covered in ash. The grand piano, broken and burned in bits, the wood splintered and battered.

I realized all I really ever knew in the time me and Mum had lived here was that piano. I stopped caring about all that had happened. I never was one for the real world. All I cared about now was the fact I didn’t get to play that piano one last time before the storm struck.



All rights belong to its author. It was published on by demand of Blake Lockett.
Published on on 12/28/2011.


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