A Bright Midnight Sky

Author : Henry Gribbin

I am a child of the 60’s, therefore I am a veteran of the Cold War. I had the typical abnormal upbringing of that time, but there was one thing that made me somewhat different from other kids. As a young boy I felt this sense of dread. I know that I wasn’t the only one that felt like this because there were signs all around us that the end was coming. Fallout shelters were everywhere, and there were the occasional air raid drills. We were afraid the Russians were going to nuke us all. Our grade school teachers told us to slip under our desks and not look out the windows in case there was an atomic blast. Then there were the films that we had to watch in the school auditorium. I always remember watching army soldiers standing atop a trench in the Nevada desert watching an A bomb being detonated. So maybe you can see why It was always in the back of my mind that I would never reach my 16th birthday. This was depressing because my big wish was to get my driver’s license.

Then something happened which helped change my outlook on life. I was about twelve years old when I saw the light. It was a hot sweltering summer’s night, and I couldn’t sleep. I quietly made my way down the stairs and went out on the front porch to catch a breath of fresh air. I had no idea of the exact time, but I knew it was late. I looked up in the sky and saw a blazing bright light slowly circling above our street. I was mesmerized. I watched this light doing its tight circles for some time. I was tempted to wake my older sister and let her share this moment, but if I did and the light was gone she would get mad. She had a temper, so I kept this moment to myself. I don’t know why but this light helped ease the dread that I had been carrying, and I was thankful for it. I made my way back to bed and slept peacefully.

Time passed. Over the years there have been wars, natural disasters and stock market crashes. But there were good times too. There were weddings, births and many a fine meal shared with family and friends. But recently that feeling of deep dread has returned. I can’t shake this feeling that something very bad is about to happen. Again there are signs which cause me to worry. The fact that we have one world leader that likes to shoot his mouth off and another world leader who likes to shoot rockets over Japan into the ocean doesn’t help. Epic hurricanes hitting our shores and massive security breaches make matters even worse.

The past two nights I couldn’t sleep, so I got out of bed. It was three in the morning. I went out on my balcony, which is on the second floor of my apartment building, and I saw a startling sight. From my deck I can see a lot of sky. This night sky was filled with dozens and dozens of bright shining lights just circling in a lazy orbit. I looked down. The parking lot below me was filled with people. Nobody made a sound. Everyone just stared upwards at the lights. These bright lights did bring back memories of my childhood. Once again a sense of hope and peace flowed through me. I think everyone looking at these lights felt the same. One by one people started making their way back inside. After a while I did the same. I had a good night’s rest.


  1. SimonJM

    That resonated. Never had the drills, but do recall having, from time to time, a nameless dread fostered by the Cold War and that delightful onomatopoeic acronym MAD. Hopefully, this too shall pass.

  2. ilovecloudstoo

    I am a child of the late 60’s. I remember the drills in school but what I want to know is what were the lights just a while ago? I am with you on feeling that we are on the brink of a devastating time. I can’t listen to news reports but some still creep in when I go out from the solitude of my own space. I don’t understand as well, how a world leader can carry on like a schoolyard bully. Thank you for writing what you feel. I will read more now.

  3. xdhz8

    Nice optimism. Really like the title.

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