The power was out, as it had been for the last three days. Caleb sat on the front steps, leaning against the railing and fanning himself with the lid from the largest Tupperware bowl he’d been able to find. The neighborhood was smothering in the sticky silence of the second brutal heat wave of the summer. Nobody on this side of town could afford generators to power fans and refrigerators, and it was nearly too hot to move. For some of the city’s elderly folks, moving too much had been a fatal mistake.
Transformers were popping faster than the utility company could repair them, and it had become normal to hear the big diesel trucks rumbling around the city at all hours. They still had water, but even it was warm, and he had to keep reminding himself to sip the liquid to replace what he was rapidly losing.
The house was stuffy and oppressive. The front porch was marginally better; there was a hint of a breeze every so often. It wasn’t much, but he suddenly found he didn’t really need a lot to be content. Maybe it was the lack of sleep, or the fact that eating just made him feel sick, or it was the increasing certainty that nature really had it out for him, but suddenly life was a whole lot simpler.
He closed his eyes and focused on his breath, the only real sound he could pick up.
An almost inaudible low rumble rolled in the distance, and he slowly raised his head. The sky was still gray, it had tricked people into expecting rain for a week or more. But there was movement in the clouds now, sluggish, like the city, but present nonetheless. He stared into the sky, half expecting it to be his mind playing tricks on him. A bolt of lightning arced across the sky. Moments later, thunder answered.
He didn’t want to get his hopes too high, and given the lethargy, it was easy not to. He simply sat and waited to see what would come of this. It may just be a cruel tease of nature, or it could be salvation.
Time didn’t matter so much, as he sat and sipped his tepid water, fanning himself with his plastic lid. Eventually the breeze picked up, and with it, the neighborhood seemed to slowly come awake. Neighbors who had been hiding in their bathtubs or basements crept out onto their front steps and yards. The pretty lady across the street, who Caleb hadn’t quite gotten the nerve to introduce himself to, settled herself on the railing of her front porch.
There was a new tension in the air. While he could hear a little quiet muttering, no one seemed too keen to break the silence. It was as if they were afraid too much talk would turn back the shower they all desperately awaited. It wouldn’t have. Caleb could see that in the clouds. There was too much power wound up in this storm. Under normal circumstances, he would have been more than a little worried about the potential for devastation, but now he embraced even that.
It seemed only minutes and the neighborhood was plunged into twilight, though true night was hours off. With no streetlights, it felt eerie, like a ghost town. Next came great gusts of wind. That alone started stirring people up. It wasn’t exactly cool, but it had a cooling effect on a sweaty body. Then the fat drops starting to fall, rare and scattered few before becoming regular.
Caleb levered himself off the steps, raising his face to the rain.
Prompt: thunderstorm after a menacing heatwave and we’re both getting weird looks for dancing in the rain
Note: I’m still off my game from the cold apparently. Never even got to the dancing part, which is a bummer. It was going to be epic.