The thunder woke him, a long rolling crash that began as a door slamming in his dream. He started awake, breathing harshly, sitting up unsure where he was and what door had closed only sure that something had slipped away and he had just missed, but what he couldn’t say. Only the feeling that it was already too late. Lightening lit the room and etched sharp, hard edged shadows on the walls, The jagged patterns of palm fronds and branches stark and sharp for a moment and then gone utterly except for the images at the back of his eyes and the fading echoes.
He strained to find something familiar to anchor him again but even the air in the room was still and heavy while all the world around and beyond was expectant.
He listened beyond the room and heard the rustling and rushing of branch and leaves like some great creature moving down the street settling lower and closer as it approached. Suddenly the wind was in the room with him, billowing the curtains fresh with the smell of rain.
Outside, along the porch, leaves swept past in a rustling rush and something heavy dropped on the roof and slid. He leaned back and hugged his knees to his chest. The rushing of the rain coming close and closer until the first drops spattered against the windows and then louder on the roof, with all the individual beats building into one crashing drum roll. The air was suddenly cool and fresh and he stretched out long with his arms and legs outside the sheets, luxuriating in the change, feeling the cooler air like a caress.
He closed his eyes again and let his mind move from the sounds in the room and follow the wind’s rush, the rattle of branch against branch, the brush of leaves as the trees bent and swayed, the wind driven rain along the road and through it all the rolls of thunder, great waves of sound tumbling through the sky and breaking over the hillside and the houses scattered like so many boulders on the beach.
He breathed slowly and felt his body press against the bed, felt the weight of his arms and legs felt the sheet stir with the wind coming through the open window, he breathed the storm and felt the surge of energy fill his lungs and lift his chest. He softened and let go, aware of each finger and the spaces between them. He imagined his hand sliding across the slip of space and finding her warmth before he touched her and stopping so his fingertips just sensed her, not a touch, only the awareness of energy and warmth, flowing from her to him.
* * *
The room was lit and bright and for a first moment as the dream still gripped her, she wondered if she had slept too long. Then the sound swelled like a low thunder chasing the headlight’s flare and she watched the etched shadows swing as the lone car crept up the road. She breathed out realizing she had been holding her breath. The dream was already fading to a vague sense of something coming, something uncounted or unaccounted for. She waited but not sure what for.
Down the street, she heard the car pause at the corner and then continue on and away. She lay quietly feeling the darkness like a weight against her eyes and quieted her breathing to listen closer for all the small noises that told her that everything was as it should be. The soft tick of the bedside clock, the humming rattle of the fridge that she swore she’d get fixed but never had. From beyond the room she brought her senses closer and heard the thump of the dog’s tail from her place at the end of the bed. Finally, closer still to the soft rise of her own breath.
Nothing was out of place, nothing was missing, only, she knew, that something had awakened her, some herald of change and it bothered her that she couldn’t identify it, couldn’t find what was out of place and nudge it back in line.
She reached for the clock on the table beside the bed. It was too dark to read the time. She rubbed the glass cover as though she might trace the hands and know the time and wondered why she hadn’t bothered to get a digital clock with lights and never needing a winding and no ticking reminder of time slipping away. It was only when she brought it right up to her eyes to try and make out the time and fumbled for the light switch that she realized she ought to be able to see enough to read the time.
She slipped out of bed and stepped to the window. The one car had vanished and there was only darkness spread like a quilt over the street and beyond. Streetlights, houses, all dark. The stars had been bright when she had gone to bed but now even they were shut off and the sky was a blank sea of night. The first soft touch at the window startled her. More a pressing than a touch. Snow, she saw, as a flake stuck for an instant before the wind took it again. The intermittent touches became a steady rushing, a flow brushing the panes and then moving on.
She leaned her forehead against the cool glass before turning back to bed and lying soft and silent beneath the quilt.
She felt the night air slip through the house, quiet as a breath. Just a touch against her lips and through her hair. Outside the whisper of wind rose and built to a moan. She turned her head to bare her neck and felt the touch slip to her shoulder.
She stretched her toes and felt the slide of the slight weight of the quilt between her legs, felt the fabric slip against the soft skin of her thighs.