Every so often, usually in mid-July, storms would come rolling through Resembool. These mid-summer storms were always storms: a series of one-after-the-other torrential downpours complete with heavy winds and frightening, jarring thunder. As a girl, Trisha had hated them. She'd hid in her parents' room, tucked safely between them in their bed, her face buried in the pillow as though that alone would keep her safe.
Now on the cusp of twenty-three, her parents were gone, and she lived alone in the old house.
Trisha hated summers.
Down the road, Pinako sounded the horn, leaning out the window of her car and grinning devilishly. "Trisha! You ready?"
Trisha waved a hand in greeting and stepped closer to the road. Pinako slowed the car and finally came to a stop, the engine giving a loud pop before going silent.
"The storms're supposed to be bad this year," Pinako said, eyeing the horizon briefly.
"You say that every year," Trisha laughed. "I don't think I can take you seriously anymore." Pinako tapped her pipe out the window while Trisha climbed into the passenger seat.
"Well, I had Urey fix up the storm shutters anyway," Pinako said. "Never hurts to be safe." Starting the car again, she gave Trisha a sideways glance. "You got your shutters up yet?"
"I hadn't thought about it. No."
"Well, you ought to."
Trisha situated her purse between her feet and let out a huff. "I'll get around to it."
"Don't worry about." Pinako's eyes were on the road, but her smile held a hint of mischief. "I'll get someone 'round your way."
That sounded troublesome. Trisha quickly diverted the conversation to the recent price increases at the market – particularly the jump in tobacco. Predictably, Pinako went off on a tangent about the no-good government, and why can't they keep their hands out of other countries, anyway?
It was a relief. Things tended to go poorly when Pinako planned. Or rather, they tended to go poorly for everyone but Pinako.
Quickly forgetting the innocuous comment, Trisha let Pinako curse and rage, choosing instead to stare out the window and run the list of needed groceries over in her mind again.
It was noon on a Tuesday, the third one in July, when heavy, gray clouds rolled over the horizon. Trisha had only just begun considering the storm shutters when two sharp raps sounded on her front door.
Pinako certainly never bothered with knocking. It was most likely Urey, sent on his mother's behalf. Trisha opened the door with half a mind to turn him away when she realized, quite suddenly, that Urey wasn't the man at the door.
"Mr. Hohenheim," she said, one hand still holding the door.
Hohenheim scratched the back of his head, tilting it sideways. It made him look completely bemused. "Ah, hello." He paused. "Trisha. Er, Ms. Elric, I mean—"
"Trisha is fine," she said hurriedly. There was a long awkward moment. Then, "Can I help you?"
"Right, right!" Hohenheim snapped to attention. "Pinako said you might need some help."
Ah. "The storm shutters," she said, laughing. "Pinako sent you to put up my storm shutters? You really don't need to go through all that work—"
Hohenehim didn't appear to hear her. He was giving her a strange, dazed sort of look, and blinking rapidly. She paused, then rapped on the doorframe. "Are you all right?"
"Yes! Fine!" He looked flustered, his hands coming to toy with the long row of buttons on his old-fashioned coat. "It's no trouble," he added.
"Oh," Trisha said. There was another awkward break, then, "Thank you, Mr. Hohenheim."
"Just Hohenheim is fine," he assured her. "The shutters?"
She stepped outside, closing the front door behind her. "This way." The shutters were in the backyard, propped up against the back of the house. "I had to take them down last year after they got damaged," she explained, twisting her hands in her skirts. "So there's a lot to do. You shouldn't feel obligated—"
But Hohenheim had already grabbed the first of the shutters and pressed it against the kitchen window that faced the back of the house. He frowned for a moment, then pressed his palm flat over the wood, which immediately began to shift under his touch.
Trisha watched, entranced, as red light crackled. When Hohenheim stepped back, the shutter was cleanly fixed to the wood of the house. He gave it an experimental swing, then turned to her. "Is this all right?"
She tried not to look too impressed when she said, "It's perfect!" but she must not have been as nonchalant as she'd thought, because Hohenheim seemed to glow under the praise.
"I'll do the others," he said.
"Thank you." She released her skirt, feeling mildly mortified that she'd been twisting it so. Hohenheim had already turned away to grab the next of the shutters, but she found herself speaking again anyway. "Would you like to stay for lunch?" Then she quickly added, "As thanks for doing all this."
Hohenheim immediately whipped back around and dropped the shutter on his foot. He managed to ground out a, "yes," through the hopping and yelping.
"I'll just be inside," she said quickly, and darted inside through the back door.
He was an awfully odd man, had been ever since they'd first met, but he really was very nice. Maybe she'd have to thank Pinako for sending him, after all.
Ten minutes later, midway through preparing lunch, Trisha peeked out one of the few remaining shutter-less windows and caught sight of Hohenheim pulling off his coat and shirt, his face flushed red from the unforgiving summer heat. As it turned out, Hohenheim was rather well built.
Trisha would definitely be thanking Pinako.