My nails are raking circles across her back. We are in the slender darkness of twilight. The summer heat is so thick it flows into the room in dense waves. The air inside her room is stirred by the lazy arms of the ceiling fan, and I feel a pressure on my chest like I can't breathe. We are lying on her twin bed, the sheets sticking to us like glue. My naked skin feels like it has expanded in this incredible heat.
I kiss the circles my nails have traced across her back. She pulls away, impatient with my overtures to desire.
"Quit it, Jack, it's too hot for that."
Hurt, I turn over on my back, as far from her as I can get on this small bed. I lay there waiting for an apology, but she gets out of bed instead, peeling the sticky sheets away from her body. She walks towards the one window in her tiny dorm room, stands there like some defiant statue, her figure flanked against the dark sky. Clouds are gathering in the distance. She reaches out to touch the pane of glass. There is an expression on her face I cannot read. In what appears to be a sudden impulse, she pulls the window open, as if she wanted to feel the growing wind cool her skin. The clouds are beginning to turn darker, more ominous. It is going to rain.
"What are you doing – are you crazy? Get away from there. Someone might see you!"
She laughs a triumphant laugh as the first drop of rain hits her forehead. Now she is hanging out the window, oblivious to the passing of people and cars below on this busy intersection. The rain is starting to come down hard, in sheets. She opens her arms wide as if to embrace it.
I call her name once and she turns, but it's like she's not hearing me. Not really.
And then I see a side of her that I have never seen in all these years I have known her. Her beauty shining like a lamplight in this darkness. Lightning flashes, a brilliant zigzag across the sky. Her features are lit up in that instant, and then the darkness drowns her face again.
I get out of bed, pulled by something I cannot explain. Why has she chosen to unveil this side of her, why now? I want to touch her, but she feels infinitely far away now. Her skin and her eyes are glowing with a beauty that is ethereal, like the faeries in the books I read as a child. The rain making her hair hang heavy down her back. My desire is washed away, replaced with.. with what? The word filling my head and my limbs with a dull ache, pushing up inside of me like a well. The word touching me as her small hands reach out to grasp mine, the rain making our handclasp slippery. I want to say the word to hear it resound within my own ears, to know it.
"Isn't this incredible?" she exclaims, her voice tiny against the roar of wind and rain.
"Yeah," I reply. My eyes fasten on hers as I brush a wet lock off her forehead. "Incredible," I echo back just as another burst of lightning fills the room. And then it is dark again.