The wind was howling, tossing the branches of the chinaberry trees around like feathers, and the rain was pelting the windows already. The main storm wouldn’t arrive for hours yet, but the early effects of the hurricane were already in evidence. Inside the house, all were on edge. If you had asked the ten-year-old, the youngest of the five children interned in the residence, he would have assured you that he was actually excited. A real hurricane! Headed straight for them! Secretly though, he was frightened. What if the structure of the house wasn’t strong enough? What if the flooding which was predicted came up into the building? His Mom and Dad had taken the necessary precautions; the windows had been taped to keep them from shattering, there was plenty of food in the house, and even several gallons of drinking water. What if it wasn’t enough?
He didn’t voice his fears. The bravado that regularly kept him from being the target of too much bullying by older siblings had been developed by long experience. No chink in the armor of machismo could be revealed. There were too many people eager to jump at any opportunity to tease and harangue. He knew better than to blubber out his terror. He wasn’t afraid, he was excited! But, that didn’t keep him from listening to the radio as the announcers told of impending doom for the entire area. His mother was glued to the little transistor set, when she wasn’t preparing sandwich material. “You never know when you’ll have a chance later…” On top of the stove, a large stainless steel pan of eggs was boiling, an essential ingredient to her famous egg and tuna salad concoction. At the very least, they wouldn’t go hungry.
And still, the radio droned on. “We’ll see the main storm slamming into the coast at about eleven-thirty tonight, with the eye coming ashore about three hours after that.” For some reason, the eye seemed to be the thing to fear. The experts always warned about that specifically. “Never go outside in the eye of the storm. It’s very dangerous! Even though it seems calm, the winds will return, without warning, from the other direction.” He imagined, erroneously, that this must have been where the term “evil eye” came from. It seemed to the young boy that any part of the storm bearing down on them must be inherently evil.
But, as was usual with four boys in the house, a fracas arose soon enough. Perhaps the nervous energy was the cause, but more probably, it was just the fact that they were all cooped up…and it was what they always did. This time though, it would escalate with alarming haste. The cause of the altercation is long lost in the mist of the years, but within a few seconds, instead of just talking trash or hollering, “Did not!” to counteract the opponent’s “Did too!”, the youngest, standing near the sink in the kitchen had flipped a spoonful of warm dish water on one of the older boys. The older boy grew visibly angry and chased the youngest around the dining room a time or two, both scattering chairs in their scrambling around. As they ran, the older combatant spotted a means of vengeance, his only thought in that instant being “an eye for an eye.” Water had been the start of it, and a source of water to repay his tormentor was at hand. A moment later, without a second’s thought to the ramifications, a cup was dipped into the pan of boiling eggs on the stove and the contents were flung right at the abdomen of the oncoming youngster.
The fracas ended abruptly as screams tore the night, louder even than the shrieking wind around the edges of the house. First aid was rendered, with the older boy assisting, all the while apologizing profusely. The storm outside was forgotten as antibiotic ointment was applied, along with a mother’s sympathy (and a few stern words to both miscreants). For some reason, the possibility of danger outside was not nearly as important anymore. The very real pain of the burn on his body seemed to magically relieve the fear of the impending turbulence in the atmosphere. The rest of the night was spent, not in terror of the wind and water, but in pain from the injury which had occurred.
There is a passage in one of the first books in “The Lord Of the Rings” trilogy, wherein one of the main character’s companions speaks his opinion of the bad situation in which they find themselves. “The wolf that one hears is worse than the orc (goblin) that one fears.” It fits the situation above to a tee. The possibilities of danger from the storm completely occupy the boy’s mind until a more pressing thought takes over. “The danger is inside here, right now!” At that point, the imagined or predicted disaster is forgotten and reality shoves its way in. How quickly, the perspective shifts!
The preacher is begging to come to the pulpit, moralizing about danger lurking in the place we least expect it, but we’ll keep him in the pew for today. True, more could be said, but I’m confident that it need not be spelled out for you. Your quick minds are already leaping to situations; memories are already replaying themselves in your heads. My work here is done.
Sufficient for the day, is the evil which is already present therein.
“Not half the storms that threatened me
E’er broke upon my head,
Not half the pains I’ve waited for
E’er racked me on my bed.
Not half the clouds that drifted by
Have overshadowed me
Nor half the dangers ever came
I fancied I could see.”
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
*”The Fellowship Of The Ring”, J.R.R. Tolkien, originally published 1959