The Storm Chaser Within

Lettuce Hug, Christina Guzman

She was a flying fist of fury hurling hate, that faint tinge of red flaring beneath the yellow flesh of olive skin. A stark contrast of her sunset orange blush.  Who knew those almond shaped painted lips of peachy orange pink could spew such poisonous rhetoric, the insults cutting like a leather sharpened razor cutting through flesh, only hurting once you realize your flesh has been met with wet air. Its stinging pulsation only quieted by my sheer determination to survive and be somebody, the sheer will to not break or even bend and that day required an even greater level of determination.

It was late summer, moon of the 21st year, and she was on the hunt looking to feed the animal of paranoia which called to her frequently.  This night was different, though, for the heat of her fury was thicker, almost suffocating the air.  The insults were met with indifference, then sarcasm, then silence.  I walked to my room to gather my things.  Yet another night when her shouts would grieve my peace, so I’d leave for a while and return when she had gotten the beast back in its cage. But this night was different, and the storm was like none other.

Like a tornado keeping eye on its path, she swept in and my room became a battleground with my lamp, books, anything heavy on my dresser being thrown at me and me dodging outside of its path.  My lithe runner’s body, expertly dodging each object turned weapon.  I never cried out because it did not occur to me to be afraid. That is probably what happens when the storm brings frequent thunder: you simply get used to hearing the sound and you do not fear the bumps in the night anymore. She must have sensed this before I did because I was unexpectedly tossed on my bed and she had both hands choking me, trying to put her knee in my stomach, and at that moment, something within me clicked like the distinct sound a seat belt makes when being snapped into its protective position!  I didn’t know why but I felt the immediate need to defend myself, and, for the first time, I physically fought back!  One single force of strength from my left arm reached to gain distance between us as I found equal strength to bring my right leg up towards my face, forcing it between our bodies and that was all that was needed to gain leverage.

The tornado, shifted from its path, lost turbulence because I had become a storm chaser, unafraid to press in and capture the moment as to record it for others who were unknowing of the destruction it could cause. I wanted them to be made aware and for others to know, they too had the ability to survive.

She must have sensed I was no longer afraid, must have known I was fighting for an inner life that I, myself, would not be made aware of until early Winter’s glow. She must have known he would grow to be an even greater storm chaser because she ran for the steel cold metal I never knew existed, returned to my room, and pointed it at the top right of my head just inches above my brow.

And I knew, if for just that moment, that for my whole life, I had been a motherless child.

About the Author

Toniraye Moss · Virginia State University

A Richmond, Virginia native, Toniraye Moss received her Individualized Studies degree with a minor in History from Virginia State University in December 2022. Planning to pursue her master’s degree in either screenplay writing or Music Business, Toniraye’s greatest joy are her three children. This piece first appeared in One Twenty One. 

About the Artist

Cristina Guzman · Chapman University

Cristina Guzmán is a graduate student working toward an MFA in Film Production with emphasis in Cinematography from Chapman University. With a bachelor in Modern Languages (French and Portuguese) and trained in dance and visual arts from a very young age, one of her passions is Art Photography focusing in traditional and alternative processes like Lumen print, Pinhole, Cyanotype among others. This piece originally appeared in the March 2018 issue of plain china. 

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