La Tempete

You feel the cold before you touch the wall, pushing your hand through the permanent blanket of icy air. The paint is rough to touch, it dries the oils from your fingertips as they graze along the surface. The wind breathes gently through the open French doors, the night air is mild and honeyed with starlight, heavy with the rich earthy scent of overripe plums that buzz with wasps where they coat the driveway and two vacant cars. The drone of cicadas and screech of bats keeps the darkness alive with a distant whirring hum. You smell a storm coming.
The torn fabric of the screen door flutters as the earth exhales. The rain begins to fall. Slowly, at first, heavier each second, gathering into a whirling tempest, hammering on the walls. You scramble from bed to shutter the windows and doors before the first flash of light fills the sky and the cicadas are silenced by the low rumbling growl of thunder.
Each flash of light illuminates something different, the castle by the lake, the vineyard on the mountain side, the lavender that stoops many weary heads by the pool. You sit, cross legged, by the only window left un-shuttered, drinking warm apricot juice from a mug that says faire la bête à deux dos under a picture of two pigs. You do not speak french.
With a flicker the lights go out, and you sit for a moment, in the darkness, watching the world wash itself clean. Then you feel your way through the darkness to the fireplace. You strike a match and the room is lit with a gentle flickering gold for a few seconds, then the flame goes up in smoke. The second match holds long enough for you to find a candle, but not long enough to light it. The third flame’s the charm.
You take up your position on the floor once more, in the candle light. You wonder if your parents are awake. No, listen, you can hear them snore over the storm. The repetitive gentle growl you’ve heard every night of your life. You wonder if you could stay here, after the summer ends. This place feels more like home than the only home you know, which feels like a lifetime away, now you’re here.
The lightening strikes again, this time you see the woods at the bottom of the hill. Down past the tennis court overrun with wild mint, between the trees, you think you see something move. You sip your juice. It calms you. You wait for the thunder to roll, the storm is moving away now, but the wind and the rain remain.
After an hour or so of watching the storm, and three mugs of apricot juice, you shutter that last window, and you are alone. You curl into the covers of your bed, and let sleep wrap itself around your mind.

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