The sky opened up / by laurel

Even if I told you, you wouldn’t believe me. Some sunsets are just too real to be believable. But in this case, even though I was seeing it for myself, I had to add and subtract events as they happened to make the entire searing picture make sense. The following is true. Not only that, but it was even more vivid than whatever language I will muster to describe it. Another failing of the human mind, the human language. But nevertheless: It’s true, and you must believe it.

Driving down a hill, snaking through country back roads watching the clouds yawn and shift and change position, as though choreographed. It was an Almanac-perfect day—80 degrees, sunny, not a cloud in the sky until late afternoon. A storm was rolling in from the north, charging its path down the tufted forests and expansive crops in the valley. The sun was a magician, turning tricks and clouds materialized from nowhere. The rolling hills smeared past the car window, but the sky was in slow motion. The clouds were in the shape of paintings, bloated and burgeoning with possibilities. The sun sliced through them, casting a plaintive gaze into the murky storm front overhead.

I see us all as something, but nothing like we truly are. In a time where people are drifting from point A to point B, alienated and disengaged, at this moment we—everyone in existence, everyone in the world—were transformed. Without warning things became exactly as they are; the sky shifted from golds and yellows into pink. But it wasn’t cotton candy pink or baby girl pink. It was savage pink. A cherry hue that sliced the landscape into light and shadow and reflected off the approaching storm front. Now instead of clouds and sky and the ingredients of a normal sunset, there was a menacing red curtain cloaking the horizon from the farthest south to the north, closing in fast. It was war in the sky, sleepy discontentment against the raw, brutal future. Lightning—yes, lighting—ripped the horizon in two.

The entire scene as far as I could see it was now shrouded in the kind of frothy wet clouds that are akin to a crashing wave. But instead of darkening the landscape in the sleepy-eyed gray of normal rain clouds, the ground was on fire. The orange in the clouds from every angle was almost hard to look at. More lightening. Off in the distance, a rainbow—please track with me, I can’t lose you now—saluted the west. A deer leaped across the freeway and glided through the impossible flatness of wheat fields in the distance.

But the show was hardly over. Now those surly black rain clouds had consumed the sky and the sun was hedged in to one corner of the ring. But instead of admitting defeat and folding into the horizon, the sun screamed her last; electric pink, darker and brighter and more menacing than any other existing color, and drew a jagged line around the clouds and hurled molten spears of light in all directions.

Restlessness had lost the battle. Suddenly it seemed that everything was the way it truly was; the longing was still there, and just as poignant, but now there was clarity. The future had won.