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The Mysterious Voice That Saved Her From a Devastating Fire

A frightening thunderstorm wreaked havoc on her home.

A mysterious voice in a frightening thunderstorm wreaked havoc on her homee.

Your house is going to be struck by lightning today.

The voice woke me up. It was a late-summer night in Wisconsin, 1993. The air was thick. My sheets stuck to me as I rolled over, trying to ignore the strange statement. Tomorrow was my third day as a high school freshman, and I needed all the sleep I could get. This farmhouse had been where Grandpa lived his whole life. Our family had moved in five months ago, after he’d passed away. Lightning had never struck.

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BOOOOOM! Thunder rattled the windows. I opened one eye and searched the dark for the clock. 4:30 a.m. Too early to be awake.

Your house is going to be struck by lightning today.

The firm, male voice—not unlike Grandpa’s—spoke in my mind as I’d been drifting back to sleep. “It’s just your imagination,” I whispered to myself. Besides, what high schooler is afraid of a thunderstorm?

Still, the storm rolled closer and the flashes of lightning grew brighter through my bedroom window.

Your house is going to be struck by lightning today.

I sat bolt upright in bed. At that exact moment, I heard an earsplitting crash. The whole house rumbled. Pictures on the wall swayed, and the windows shook. I ran into the hallway, heart pounding.

I heard my brother and sister run down the stairs and, from the hall, saw my brother’s room burst into flames. “Fire! Fire!” I shouted, running blindly for the stairwell. I half fell down the stairs, landing on my backside. My parents heard my cries and ran right out behind me. My dad tried to phone for help, but the line was dead. My parents ordered me to take my brother and sister to the barn. Then they grabbed the car keys and tore out of the driveway, headed for a neighbor’s house. Minutes later, they returned and said the neighbor’s phone was also out.

I knew I had to take matters into my own hands. I rushed out into the pouring rain, wearing only pajamas, and raced to another house down the road. I stumbled into the neighbor’s foyer. They were able to call the fire department, who finally extinguished the flames.

But it was too late. We lost every-thing that day. Our house was mostly burned down—and with it three generations’ worth of family memories. No more Christmas celebrations in the living room where Grandpa had grown up celebrating. No more breakfasts in the farm kitchen where Grandpa and his parents and their parents had shared stories. But thankfully no one had been injured. If any one of us had been a second later in getting down the stairs, we might not have been so lucky. That night was a painful memory none of us liked to dwell on, so I kept what had happened to me a secret. As time wore on, I wondered if it hadn’t just been my overactive teenage imagination.

Some 15 years later, my sister was visiting when another frightening thunderstorm broke out. Huddled together on the sofa, we started talking about the night of the lightning strike. With more than a decade between us and the incident, it was easier to discuss. Haltingly, afraid she wouldn’t believe me, I finally told her about the voice in the storm.

“You’re going to think this is crazy,” she said. “That night, someone shook me awake. But when I opened my eyes, no one was there. I was so scared, I got our brother up and we headed downstairs. Right after that, the lightning hit. And we saw you running too.”

Something had happened that night. And not just to me.

“Deb, it felt like Grandpa,” my sister added.

Just like the voice, I thought. A warning that was even stronger than the storm.

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