The following is a short story I wrote yesterday. It’s short and it’s rough, but it was an exercise in free association. So you shouldn’t try to derive too much meaning from it. I hope you enjoy. – Anonyman
Had he really heard it or was it just in his dream? For at least a minute or two he lay still in bed, listening for whatever it was that had awakened him. He was about to drift back to sleep when he heard the low, distant roll of thunder.
So that’s what it was, he thought. He listened and soon heard another roll of thunder and then another, this one accompanied by a gust of wind. It must be coming this way, he thought happily.
When he was a kid, he would lie awake in his room, looking out the west-facing window towards the storms that marched across the prairie all spring long. There was just something special about seeing the lightning dancing across the clouds or streaking down to the ground, followed by the immense, powerful roll of thunder. It reminded him of how small he was, but the storms never seemed threatening to him. The storms were like friendly giants putting on a show just for him out on the prairie.
He was a long way from home now, living where the storms rarely came at all, let alone at night. Tonight was a rare treat – a real thunderstorm in the valley.
The air was sultry, like the air in a bedroom after an evening of making love, hot and thick. It was perfect conditions for a thunderstorm to feed on.
He got up and padded to the window in his boxer shorts. It was well after midnight, so there was no one to see him standing there opening his window to the storm. Ah, the smell of rain, he thought as a gentle gust of wind blew into his room. A sudden flash of lightning streaked across the sky, illuminating the whole neighborhood, reminding him that he was in the city now.
Back to bed he went, but not to sleep. Piling up his pillows, he reclined on the bed facing the open window and the oncoming storm. The thunder was coming close on the heals of the lightning now, and the wind was coming in great gusts through the trees. The storm was greedily sucking all that hot, humid air from the valley, piling it into great towers of cloud, heavy with rain and illuminated from within by the near constant lightning. Higher and higher, faster and faster, getting bigger with each breath of air.
He suddenly realized that in a way, he was feeding the storm. With every hot, humid breath he exhaled, he was contributing to the storm’s energy. And it wasn’t just him, all those people out there in the valley were doing it too. The storm was feeding off of them.
Somewhere out there, she was feeding it too. Was she sleeping in her bed, quietly unaware of the storm around her? Or was she making love to someone else, her gasps and feverish moans combining with another man’s lustful panting in some distant bedroom? Was one of the explosive flashes of lightning due to her passion for someone new?
I’m overthinking things again, he told himself, shaking his head. But for a brief moment it had seemed so clear – like seconds sight, he could see her naked body again, writhing in lustful exertion. Her passion had burned so bright and now it was for another man.
Just then the rain hit. It came in a great deluge upon the valley, competing in volume with the thunder. For five whole minutes, the sky opened up with a display of rain and lightning and thunder that rivaled anything he had seen back home. The house reverberated with the sound of thunder, and creaked as the winds buffetted.
Then, just as suddenly as it had hit, the storm slackened. The lightning stopped except for a few half-hearted bolts in the clouds. The rain slowed to a slow, steady shower. The wind blew cool and gentle through the open window.
Reaching over into the top drawer of his dresser, he retreived his cigarettes and lighter. He had bought these when they were together, but hadn’t touched them in months. The familiar smell of fresh tobacco filled his nostrils as he put the cigarette between his lips. Smoking had never felt natural – like he was pretending to be a smoker, pretending to be someone cooler and more experienced than he was. He pretended so many things for her.
As he slowly smoked his one cigarette, he listened to the gentle drumming of the rain on the roof and the dripping on the ground outside. It was soothing, refreshing. Maybe it’s time to go home, he wondered. Away from the person he’d become in this valley. Away from her and the storms she brewed. Home to where his old friends play out on the prairie just for him and no one else.