Isaac Awakened the night his parents died. It was a terrifying night. The kind of night that makes a person flinch every time lightning flashes, and it palpitates the heart when thunder shakes the ground. A strange feeling settled into the pit of Isaac’s stomach when the storm started, one that he had felt since the very first time he was frighted by a heavy thunderstorm. Torrential rains lashed across the windows, and quickly the distance between the flash and the bang was shortening. The storm grew closer and more powerful by the second.
Isaac’s parents had gone to sleep long before the storm started. They attempted to stay awake long enough to greet their older sons when they returned home, but eventually the couple gave in to their drowsiness knowing Isaac would be up when Andrew and David arrived.
Isaac glanced around the room for something to serve as a distraction until the storm passed. He was too keyed up to sit still for a movie and too distracted to finish a book. His eyes settled on his desk. For the past handful of years it was covered in textbooks and homework and anything else relating to his high school studies, now it was empty of all those things. The only items left were a cup full of pens and what Isaac considered his most prized possessions, a few small framed photographs of his brothers and him.
The earliest one showed the brothers curled up together asleep on a twin-sized bed that looked too big even for all three boys piled next to each other. Then there was a picture of Isaac sandwiched in between his older brothers on the steps of their new home, still scared of the strange environment, but excited to be there. And lastly a photo taken the night Isaac graduated from high school. His brothers, David and Andrew, had surprised him that day by skipping their various duties as adults and driving the whole day to make it to the ceremony early. In the picture it was obvious the brothers were no longer children. They had shed their chubby cheeks and grown into their limbs, but when Isaac saw David and Andrew waiting beside their parents he felt like was five years old again coming home after his first day of kindergarten waiting nothing more than to play with his older brothers.
It was hard for Isaac when David and Andrew went to college without him, leaving him without his support system. For years they were each other’s world, but David was eight years older than Isaac, and Andrew was six. The separation was inevitable. It didn’t mean that it hurt any less.
Now it was the middle of summer, a few months after graduation, and Isaac’s brothers were coming back home for a small vacation before their internships started in the fall. Andrew and David would no doubt crush Isaac in their tight embraces the moment they walked through the door. Then they would sit him down in his rightful place on the center spot of the sagging couch and needle him about the decision to take a break from schooling that Isaac needed figured out his life. Unlike his older brothers who seemed to have everything figured out ten years in advance, Isaac’s future was still unclear to him.
A particularly loud crack immediately followed by a long roll of thunder rattled the house. It was possible the lightning had struck the ground right outside the window. Isaac’s fear of the storm crept back up and pulled him from his wandering thoughts. Out of false bravery more than anything else, he left his desk to check for damage. Regret mixed with the already fear induced anxiety and his stomach rolled. He should have left the blinds alone and found something else to distract himself with. Watching the storm was always worse than only hearing it.
Standing at the window, Isaac couldn’t see anything at first. The storm had covered up any traces of the moon in the sky and the sheer amount of rain pouring down obscured the street lights lining the road. He was left dependent on flashes of lightning to illuminate the yard.
But the longer he stood there the more all the negative feelings intensified. It was beyond what he normally felt. Hypnotized by the uncontainable fear, he stood silent, suffering. His throat constricted, his legs shook, and his head spun. Isaac was too petrified to move.
Then from somewhere deep inside him a switch was flipped on, a cage unlocked, and the world dissolved into nothingness.