The Boy Who Played With Lightning

Matthew Donnellon

Photo by David Moum on Unsplash

There was a powerful electrical storm the night he was born. A maelstrom of an epic nature.

The kind that they warn you about. One where gravel sticks to your shoes, and you most definitely don’t want to be caught outside.

The kind where there is a few moments of absolute silence, and then the skies open and drench the world. The winds roared, twisting limbs of trees and shattering trunks.

Every year there is a thunderstorm or two which are talked about the rest of the year, but this storm is still remembered.

No one knew quite what happened. The birth was routine. There were no complications, except the power going out for a few minutes.

That first night they kept saying it was the storm. The baby shocked the nurses. But they said it was because the storm outside was so strong.

Then his mother’s hair started standing on end when she held him.

And then there was the sneeze.

Most of the time a baby sneezing is adorable.

But when he sneezed a bolt of lightning shot across the room and blew apart a computer.

“I think we should call the doctor,” was all the nurse could say.

More doctors were called.

Lots of doctors.

None of them could tell the parents what happened.

But after a while they started making do, though they did go through a number of television.

Most of the time nothing happened. But eventually the boy grew and realized he could control his powers. Even as a child he could light his own birthday candles, and he was charging his parents phones. Once he was able to power the TV during a power outage so his dad could watch Michigan and Ohio State play.

His dad figured it made up for all the TV’s and laptops over the years.

There was an article in the town’s newspaper titled “The Boy Who Played With Lightning” and it showed pictures of him making small pieces of metal float, and shooting bolts of lightning from his fingertips.

But the small town fame didn’t last and soon he was just the boy who played with lightning. Every once in a while he’d use his powers but most of the time he was a normal kid.

Not that it didn’t come in handy. He was a walking battery, and his friends certainly appreciated it, though his teachers wished their phones would run out.

Also, once there was a bully that made the mistake of picking on his friends. The boy who played with lightning saw and tried to help, but not before he an elbow to the eye. But he put his hand on the bully’s shoulder and let the energy flow through him and for a tenth of a second he became a human TAZER and the bully dropped to his knees in pain.

And there was very little bullying after that.

And soon the boy became the teenager who played with lightning, and did what teenagers do.

One day they had a half day of school on a sweltering early summer day. The group headed to Jenny’s parents farm to swim in the pond.

They dived into the water, and jumped from the old rope swing.

There was beer stolen from someone’s parents’ fridge. They might even have been some pot stolen from an older brother.

It was a rather nice country day.

And then it happened.

For whatever reason, the grass, the hay, a stray drop of water, it happened.

The boy who played with lightning sneezed.

And what happened shocked even him.

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Matthew Donnellon is a writer, artist, and sit down comedian. He is the author of The Curious Case of Emma Lee and Other Stories

Detroit, MI

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