The Storm

It was a fierce and wild night. I had laid in bed for hours, the blankets drawn up about me, listening to the roar of the thunder chasing the occasional brilliance of passing lightning. The window drummed loudly; and up on the roof I heard ghosts falling with the rain, bounding across the shingles. The wind outside whispered only at intervals, content in its howling.

I finally rose in disgust; my frustration from lack of sleep having grown to defiant anger. I flung back the covers and headed into the kitchen. My feet cried that the floor was too cold for walking, but I ignored the complaint. The night was too late for waking.

I went to the cupboard and searched clumsily until a glass presented itself. It would have been easier with the light on, but I figured it wasn't worth the trouble. I paired the glass quickly with a cool bottle I had been saving under the sink; it still held about half of a prized single malt. Bottle in hand I wandered out onto my rear porch.

There was indeed quite a storm raging. The trees and bushes were bent double from the pounding of the water rushing from above and the wind whipping through their limbs. Visible sheets of falling water moved across the yard. I could not even see the neighbors' homes, or my car out on the driveway.

I sat down in a chair dampened from mist blowing through a screen to a window I had left open. I was quickly covered in a sheen of cold moisture, and shivered.

I poured a liberal measure of the bottle into my glass, which I then raised to the weather and downed in a great burning gulp. I refilled the glass and left the bottle between my feet.

I quickly felt the struggle of the whiskey's warmth rising against the cold of the air and rain on my naked body. I thought then that I should have put something on, but if I caught a cold I wouldn't have to go to work. It was a fair trade. I did not get up.

It was dark. The boiling clouds obliterated any hope of moon or starlight invading the moment.

I closed my eyes, drinking in the night that had so taken hold of me, and tasted the film of whiskey that remained in my mouth.

I sat there quietly until a flash of lightning came and burned through my reverie. I looked out at the backyard in the brief, stark light of the flash. I saw the sidewalk, old and cracked, reaching across the grass enclosed by that imposing hedge, and the garage covered in cracked and weathered paint that disgorged a driveway pitted and worn in its faithful service.

I swallowed more of my liquor, and closed my eyes again, savoring the fiery taste as it ran across my tongue and down my throat.

Lightning flashed again, and I heard the tempo of the falling rain increase.

I opened my eyes to see the storm, in truth.

It was then that I saw her.

She was standing at the end of the walk, where the hedge and the garage met around the sidewalk in a stiff opening. Her arms were upraised and her hands were spread in supplication, reaching towards the heavens. The wind was blowing her water drenched hair wildly about her in all directions and the rain ran down across her in great rivulets, trailing down her arms and legs, leaping from her breasts.

Lighting flashed again and she sparkled in glittering white and water from head to toe. A living sheath of diamonds, twinkling in the night.

With the thunder she turned her head towards me.

Her eyes flashed from among her tangled strands of hair. Her gaze was piercing and held an intent I had never before encountered. My heart leapt and raced so intently in response that I felt as if I had been beaten.

I swallowed the remainder of my glass and nodded towards her. I saw the her smile in return, as if to a kindred soul, her teeth a new flash beneath the hair matted across her face. She began to approach as lightning again ripped the sky.

As she passed from sight, below the ledge of my window, I felt an odd pressure banished. My whole body lifted and started, as if taking breath after a dive into the depths of some murky sea.

My body was chilled from the wet and cold, so I retrieved my bottle and took a draught, for the warmth.

I remembered that I was nude and felt embarrassed. I rose to flee into the house, but it was too late. Her tread was moving up the steps to the porch. I turned to meet her at the door.

She was there, wet and staring at me. Her hair still blew in the wind, her face a tangle of strands hiding all features except those penetrating eyes and that broad smile. She was tall, rising above me, a presence that caused me pause. I felt that she was beautiful under that hair; hair that would be lustrous and soft if it were not so wet and matted. She was strong, her figure stood firm and soft. She was also naked, and I felt admiration stir.

I mumbled something about coming in out of the cold and then she was there standing beside me and before me, inches away. My breath came unevenly and its wisps of condensation blew away rapidly, as if in fear.

She was a spirit of the storm risen to meet my wandering.

I was in awe.

Her hair still draped across her face, matted and thick, now leaving nothing visible. I wanted desperately to see that face.

I reached out slowly, delicately, to brush the hair aside; but her hand rose and grasped me about the wrist. The hand was shockingly cold, the rain was warm by contrast. I gasped and then she moved my arm back down, slowly shaking her head, with a pressure I could not resist.

I stuttered an offer of drink, but she declined with another slow shake of her head.

I stood and stared for many minutes, my eyes wandering the length of her frame. She remained still during my inspection. A statue before an artistic admirer. A statue. She was so near to perfection, carved with a love and dedication I had never before seen.

She then reached out and clasped me, crushing me with a strength...

She carried me to my chair, where she deposited me, and then climbed up, straddling me.

We heaved there seemingly for hours, weaving a pagan ritual in time to the storm - the driving rain, the roll of the thunder, the shattering flashes of lightning - thrusting energies unbound and irresistible.

An aching scream rebounded to the heavens, a cry of passion, of challenge, of hate, of love, of triumph, of defeat. A cry that tore through me and drained me, sucking and pulling me.

A sugar cube dissolved in the tea.

A laugh rolled in that thunder, a gleeful thanks that kissed me in the rain and caressed me with the wind.

I awoke just before dawn. The storm had ended and somewhere a robin was singing to greet the clean, new day.

Beside me lay an empty bottle and a glass toppled on its side. I rose from the chair, my knees giddy and weak. My body was shriveled and wrinkled, as if I had soaked in a tub of water too long; and I was deathly pale, as a corpse.

I sighed deeply and glanced towards my back sidewalk expectantly. There was nothing there but a fallen branch and crawling worms, forced to the surface, seeking sanctuary from the storm.

I shivered and turned back into the house.

I was weak and spent, as if I had never rested. My body ached and felt empty. I collapsed onto my bed and cried until I fell asleep.

I have never dreamed since that night, except of her. And ever since I always sit and cry when the thunder rolls and the rain clatters upon the ground.

I never saw her face.

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