In Florida this time of year, there is a lot of heat lightning. It illuminates the clouds quietly... A sight I truly love seeing, as it heralds the coming of hot, sticky summer. A long while ago I wrote a short story named after this beautiful phenomenon. I'm revisiting it today. I made a few revisions to the syntax in the story, as time is the best editor. I'm very proud of this story because it touches somewhere deep down in my heart. I hope, dear reader, that you enjoy this little yarn as much as I do.
The night was hot and sticky, as if the air were the consistency of honey. The rain had passed through earlier in the day leaving in its wake a sensual, yet oppressing vibration in the air. We walked along the water's edge shrouded in silence. I could barely hear the waves breaking over my own conscious breathing. My heartbeat was another matter entirely. Erratic and pounding in my tender ears, it confused and dismayed me. I knew him well, or so I thought. Years had distanced us, made us appear as strangers to each other. I had forgotten how to talk to him; I feared that I may alienate him, I continued on in silence. I could see he wasn't uneasy in the least. This was not a comforting fact. I had imagined myself differently in this situation--or not in this situation at all. The sun had just fallen below the horizon and darkness was quickly blanketing the beach around us. In his arms he carried a large beach towel. As we spread it out and sat down, my mind raced through hundreds of scenarios... How would I tell him about the part of me that he had missed out on? How would I begin? I sat next to him, not touching but close enough for the accidental opportunity. I took a deep breath of the warm salt air and exhaled with a quiet, shuddering sigh. Sand ran through the fingers of my left hand, cool and still damp from the storms previous, as I busied myself with the business of pretending. He could see through my act, we both knew. Kindly he allowed me to continue. He understood my need for a pause.
Finally he spoke, breaking my hurried meditation. Conversation came easily as I relaxed. He was who I remembered him to be, although it was doubtful he could say the same of me. When he reached for my hand I pulled away. How could it ever be so easy to fall back into old patterns? Too many years had passed, too much history lay between us. Yet, when he reached for my hand a second time, I allowed him to take it without incident. I avoided his references to our past together. It seemed dangerously thin ice to tread on, as if when we undoubtedly fell through I would love him again. That was a farce--I never stopped loving him. Denying an unbroken circle made it easier for me to bear. He knew the world didn't want us together, that after tonight it would be over again. It had been this way in the past. This time I fought to shield myself from the inevitable fallout. My strength was minuscule in comparison to his (strength having next to nothing to do with physicality).
When he gently tilted his head towards mine and touched my lips with his (for the first time since I was barely old enough to drive a car legally), I knew the circle would remain unbroken that night. I added the beach to the list of locales where he had stolen my heart. Far out over the ocean I could see the retreating storm clouds, almost constantly illuminated by heat lightning. It seemed fitting that the weather around us be so unstable. I found myself becoming angry for allowing him into my mind again, but I quickly dispelled the notion. Nothing made sense apart from him.
I was awakened with a jolt by my bedside alarm. Rubbing my eyes, it all came back to me. I fully expected to find sand on my palm and between my toes. Upon inspection, I found nothing. Just a dream, I said to myself. It hardly seemed possible to have dreamt something so vivid. He was only a distant memory. Although he was only that, the circle still remains unbroken.