The flat, deep colour spreads slowly across the sky, and the detail in the more frequent rumbles pushes purposefully through.
A bright flickering, like the charging of a neon strip light, comes from behind the trees across the meadow.
Crickets chirp, unaware, or unconcerned. Dozens of swallows take their last feed in dazzling intertwining circles, then head elsewhere. The long grass waves lazily in the cool breeze.
A child’s shriek greets the first flash.
The crack, some seconds later, slaps the air with a jolt, the resonant low boom felt through the floor, rippling through the low cloud, the echo rolling down the valley, sending soundwave warning to the hamlets downstream.
The purple is consumed by a light-absorbing grey that folds and flexes.
A distant hiss morphs into a white noise that approaches quickly, louder, through the trees. Their green is blotted out, layer by layer, as the feathery cloud seeps down from the sky, removing all perspective.
The breeze drops, for brief calm seconds, before sheets of water race across the meadow towards the house. The wind drives the large warm drops against the glass of the hastily shut window, watery tacks clattering, worming their way through gaps in the dry putty, pooling on the wooden floor.
Standing by the open back door, enjoying the protection of the deep roof overhang, I am suddenly aware of a micro-second passing, of my body’s involuntary jump, before registering the jagged hairline streak grabbing for earth in the field metres away, and, it seems, before the flash makes its terrestrial connection, the sky cracks, ripping in all directions. I glance at the old pewter beer mug hanging in my hand, and take a step back into the kitchen.
That alarming flourish dealt, it moves through.
After a time, a bright orange glow nudges its way into the corner of my eye, spilling into the room through the small west window. Higher, whiter cloud is reflecting the setting sun from its underside, soaking the eery ultraviolet twilight in an fiery afterglow. A brilliant blue is revealed in fleeting chinks.