Pretty sure I had a close encounter with a voodoo queen the other day. It was a dark and stormy day on a trail just off the shores of Allatoona.
But first let me explain that not a whole lot of things scare me. Only a couple of things, really — and they are pretty much the standard fare: I’m afraid of the dark – of the demons and monsters that can lurk in the closets, under the beds, and in the black and impenetrable air. And I’m terrified of mice – of the squealing, pink-nosed breeders of filth and disease.
The fear of the dark is a holdover from my childhood and those demons I saw cast out of my parents’ living room on a weekly basis. The mice – well, I’m pretty sure they’re a plague hangover from a former life in London during the Middle Ages. Both make complete and total sense. To me.
My husband, he’s afraid of clowns. Clowns. I don’t get it. They wear makeup and extravagant footwear, so honestly, what’s there to fear?
But millions of people on this planet do fear them. I think they’re impressive. They have mad skills. They can juggle. And craft squeaky balloon animals. And distract angry bulls — and that takes a heap of talent. I was married to a Taurus, and I never could master that skill.
Clowns get a bad rap. Sure, there’s John Wayne Gacy and Pennywise… and I guess they sort of ruined it for all the clowns. But honestly, between the two of them they were responsible for maybe fifty deaths… You’re much more likely to be struck by lightning than killed by a clown.
Mice however, they carried the fleas that vomited the virus that cost the human race an estimated 100 million lives… That, my friends is a whole lot of scary. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
And our boys are a little bit afraid of thunder — but I’m working on them. Thunder’s not scary, I tell them. It’s loud, but it can’t hurt you. It’s nothing more than sonic burps — atmospheric indigestion, if you will.
You might have the same if you deep-throated lightning. (Only I don’t tell them that part.) And because I have no desire to test that theory, I maintain a healthy distance from lightning.
But then, this past week, Mike and I were inadvertently caught in a lightning storm. We were hiking a favorite mountain trail when suddenly the sky darkened and we heard familiar rumblings.
At first I thought it was my stomach – or maybe Mike’s. (We’re currently on a quest for our missing summer bods and eating what feels like nothing but raw cucumbers while we search. Our stomachs have the habit of digesting their own linings in protest.)
But nope, turns out it was the sky. And she was craving a giant, hand-tossed peperoni pizza as much as I was. She was HANGRY and hurling lightning as a hunger strike.
So there we were. Out in nature. On a mountaintop. With wobbly, fatigued legs. And about a gazillion tall trees.
Now that’s scary.
We began high-tailing it down the trail, which had morphed into treacherous red slime, rain-slicked rock, and lightning bolts (lots and lots of lightning bolts), when what to our wondering eye should appear but a freakishly frightening silhouette. (Think Victor Frankenstein, Lake Geneva, and electric shock and you’ve got the picture.)
Only she was no creature. She was a dark and mysterious woman. And she stalked in beauty like the night.
She was regal and dressed all in black: black tights, black skirt, black-heeled boots, black blouse. And she bore in her gnarled and ancient hand a giant black umbrella.
I’m fairly certain she was a bona fide, conjure-crafting, card-carrying voodoo queen. Or a dark arts Mary Poppins. Or a figment of my overwrought, Romantic imagination.
Regardless, she was upon us in an instant, parting the sheets of rain as she defied the elements — climbing up the mountain that we were so eagerly vacating.
As lightning cracked once again, she flashed us a smile, revealing a glittering cavern of canines and incisors.
I was in awe of her, and just the tiniest bit afraid. But mostly in awe. I’m pretty sure she had deep-throated lightning and lived to tell the tale.
In another instant, she was gone.
And us? We were gone too – down that mountain as fast as humanly possible.
So we could live to tell the tale.