Night falls in the middle of the afternoon, following on the trail of storm clouds.
The rain comes down like an ocean turned upside-down, sheets of water dropping from the sky, drowning the world in the urgent tap-tap-tap of raindrops on asphalt and the smell of petrichor. The thunder rumbles and swallows you whole, like the waves crashing on a cliff, like the waves breaking over stone, like the waves dragging you under until the world is muted and dark, the way all things are underwater.
In the near-silence of things too loud to be heard, it echoes in your chest like a beating drum. The wind whistles like a flute, and with the rain it all becomes a song, a hollow symphony of natural disaster. If you closed your eyes you know you would still see the storm, painted on the back of your eyelids by sound alone.
The rain makes everything blurry and dim, but a lightning strike paints it bright silver—sky-fire reflects in each individual drop of water until it burns, and then is gone in a flash of blinding light. You wish you could touch it, this buzzing, blinding sword of light, hold it in your hands and look at it until you’re left with the afterimage of its edges burned into your eyes.
Do you know what happens when you stand under a tree during a thunderstorm?
The question takes you by surprise and you miss the next flash of lightning when you turn your head towards her, cheek pressed into the bed sheets. Your fingers brush against her back, feather-light, tapping a rapid rhythm like the raindrops falling outside on each vertebrae you can feel the edge of under her skin. Your fingertips dip down the lines of old scars, like cracks on a broken mirror. You think you know the answer, but something tells you you will never know it as well as she does—will never know her, perhaps, in the same way you can’t hold lightning in your hand and call it mine.
Her eyes are half-closed, fluttering shut at each lightning strikes, entire body shuddering like she’s been struck, like she’s a lightning rod and every flash of light courses through her veins, contained in the spaces between the small bones of her hands and the ribs in her chest. She hums low in her throat in time with thunder, tasting it on her tongue, trapping it behind her teeth.
Everything is washed grey and dark by the storm and she leans into it, falls into it, only brought back to you by the brief flashes of light that highlight the sharp edges of her face, throw her back into the light.
You press your hand flat against her back and listen to her heartbeat, echoing like thunder through your own veins. You roll over until your body pressed flush against her side and your lips against her neck. Her skin tastes like ozone, tastes like fresh rain and the building tension before the storm. Your blood sings and your bones thrums like you’ve been hit by lightning, too, lovestruck and smiling, teeth biting around the edge of a lightning strike.
She’ll be gone by morning, carried away by the storm. But right now dawn is far and faint like a fever-dream and she is here still, opening her eyes to show you a smile you will believe in.
The storm sounds like it’s here to stay. There’s still plenty of time.