Lydia woke to the sound of raindrops plinking against the metal chimney in syncopation with Dad’s snoring. Her little brother Ronald called it “snorting” and set an alarm, once, to wake himself at two in the morning to see if he did it, too. He was disappointed. Lydia assured her brother he had no reason to be. She managed not to giggle at his sad, earnest expression or the teardrop on the tip of his little nose. “You snort even louder than Dad,” she said.
“I do?” A smile banished the bitter tears.
“You do,” Lydia swore, crossing her heart in a solemn oath. “Like a great fat piggy at the market!” she added.
For now, Lydia was the only person in the house who was awake. Normally, the sussurant wind and whoosh of rain cascading from the gutters outside the window would have lulled Lydia deeper into her dreams. Why, then, was she awake and on edge? Lightning flashed outside the window, so bright that Lydia was only able to make out its jagged web of streaks and forks by the impression they’d burned into her retinas. She jumped at the low, deep boom that made the ground shake and the air seem to vibrate. Even the tiny hairs at the back of her neck tingled. She opened the blinds to see if anything had been hit.
Lydia gasped at what she saw in the back yard. A bright figure of a man – if it was a man at all – strode across the back yard and stopped, stared at her through the glass. Lydia felt a sudden urge to vomit. It wasn’t a man; it was a stick figure of charged particles, a creature spawned from the lightning. The creature lifted a hand, as if to wave at her. Lydia, transfixed, waved back. It lifted the other hand, reached out, and pressed a tendril of light to the pane. Lydia realized that the creature probably couldn’t see her in the darkened living room – it was reacting to its own reflection on the glass. It sizzled and sparked when raindrops struck it, but it seemed unfazed. Curious, perhaps, but unfazed.
As Lydia watched the strange, illuminated figure, her initial horror subsided, replaced by fascination and curiosity. The creature stretched its limbs, craned its neck, moved forward, back, left, then right, as if teaching itself the box step. It was growing more graceful by the minute as it got its bearings. Lydia pressed a hand to the glass, and the startled light-being snapped and cracked and fizzed, then touched the opposite side of the pane. Tiny purple, fuchsia, and gold arcs danced across the glass, but Lydia felt only the tiniest thrill of an electric vibration. IT was as curious about her, as she was about IT.
As the rain slowed, the light began to fade. With a sudden jerk the creature pulled away from the window – almost as if it had received an electric shock from its contact with Lydia – and slowly disintegrated in fits and sparks until it vanished altogether. Only a dry spot on the concrete porch and the faint scent of ozone remained to say it had ever existed. Lydia wondered what to make of it all – she knew that if she told anyone about the creature, they would laugh and say she’d been dreaming. She only knew that she would never look at lightning quite the same way.
This is #10 for StoryADay May. The incessant rain inspired this one; I tried to think of a bright spot in all the storming and flooding, and a strange creature emerged…
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