Late on that bleak summer's night, Brick New Jersey was not at all the place to be. The storm awakened all but the soundest of sleepers-It was an ignorance envied by anyone who sat up, watching and listening to the violence raging outside. Loose patio doors swung to and fro, aged hinges hissing in protest. A chorus of howls rose up into the bile-black sky, a canine's futile protest for being left out to weather the storm. And it would be almost safe to say that there was not a child that remained in their own bed. While the tempest seemed to tear open the very earth itself, it inadvertently brought families close together-closer, perhaps, than anything else had in quite some time. When a new darkness set in, free from even the dimmest glow of a microwave clock or a tiny nightlight, Brick tried to relax. The torrent waned into a lullaby, and at length the rhythmic raindrops sung the anxious town to sleep.
The following morning, the paper reported that Brick had not seen a storm like that in all its recorded history. Much of the town was still unplugged, and an eerie silence seemed to pervade the overly quiet streets. In a society so used to the conveniences of modern-day technology, the lack of power hacked away at the already frayed nerves of its people.

Elliot Fisher, still wearing his bed-head and not much else, trudged outside to survey the damage his neighborhood had been dealt. There were others out, too, all busily cleaning up what they could-a myriad of limbs strewn carelessly across every inch of the ground was the lesser of all evils. Elliot could faintly see that a tree had ungraciously collided with a house down the street, bark and shingles mixing together to become undistinguishable from one another. He bent over and picked up the newspaper. In a town as small as Brick, the storm could afford to be front-page news.
"Come on inside and get dressed. The neighbor's have got enough to worry about without a disgruntled, half-naked man wandering about scaring off their children." Karlene Fisher stood in the front doorway in her nightgown, crudely slouching on the frame. She eyed the yard with distaste and returned inside. She never did like their yard anyways, storm or no.
When Elliot finally returned inside, lazily kicking off his shoes in the doorway, Karlene was sitting at the table. A thin trail of smoke snaked up above her, winding into oblivion.
"I thought you'd quit." Elliot said, sitting across from his wife.
"I did. Now I started again." She was reading an outdated magazine, and it seemed that she was trying overly hard to avoid looking at Elliot. They sat in silence. The low hum of a chainsaw floated in from an open window.
"They must be trying to get that tree out of the Bank's house. You should see it-that big pine nicked the side of it...their lucky it didn't hit them for much worse than that."
Karlene raised an eyebrow, exhaling a cloud of smoke, "Would have served them right."
"You're still angry about last night, aren't you?" After seven years of marriage, Elliot knew when his wife was upset. She had a certain way of reacting to every sort of situation, and at present...she was near ready to explode.
"Well, if you told me the truth," She finally lowered her magazine and looked him in the eye, "Then I'm fine."
"But you're not fine."
"And you're not telling me the truth."
"Damnit, Karlene!" Elliot turned towards the window, the chaos outdoors suddenly seeming much more inviting than his stuffy, little kitchen, "I told you I was working late. The storm held me up, too."
"Stop it, just stop it." She put out the cigarette fitfully. Her chair squeaked against the floor as she pushed it back and stood, walking to the sink to attend to a pile of neglected dishes. With her back turned from Elliot, she discreetly wiped a tear from her eye. She bit her lip to force back any other sign of weakness; she had to be strong now.
"Baby, please. I learned my lesson before...I'm not ever going to mess up again. I know I've screwed up in the past and weakened your ability to trust me. But I'm telling you the truth. You're the only woman in my life, now and until the day I die." He was pleading with her, he knew.
"I want to believe you Elliot," She returned to the table, dirty plates and cups no longer so important, and fell back into her chair, "But you told me the same thing last time. I had to walk in on you and Sarah Bank's to find out you weren't telling the truth."
Elliot wanted to get up and comfort her and assure her that it wasn't like that this time-that he was through with lusting for anyone except her. He wanted to pick her up and whisk her back to the bedroom and make love, confessing his devotion to her.
It just wasn't that easy.
"I'm human, baby. And more so...I'm a man," Elliot was stumbling over his thoughts; choking on his own words, "I make mistakes like everyone else, but I learn from mine." He reached across the table fro Karlene's hand. She hesitated before accepting it.
"You were just working late for the past few weeks?"
"And the storm slowed you down so much that you weren't home until eleven?"
"I didn't stop working until 10:30. Jake's school is expensive. We talked about me working extra," Elliot tightened his grip on Karlene's soft flesh, "Is that so suspicious?"
"What's a marriage without trust, Elliot? No, it's not suspicious...not under normal circumstance, "She pulled back from him, "But when you find your husband screwing his secretary, everything gets just a little bit suspicious."
She was right. He was scum. The sky groaned as new storm clouds appeared in the sky. If only it would storm again. Anything was better than this.
The front door slammed shut suddenly, and wide-eyed Jake fisher bolted into the kitchen, "Mom, Dad, you gotta come see this..."
"Whoa, slow down. You're tracking mud in the house." Karlene said.
"But you have to come now. Old lady Morgan is down at the creek, splashing through it and talking all crazy. Everyone's there trying to calm her down." With that said, Jake wheeled around and ran back outside, the door once more shutting loudly behind him.
Elliot and Karlene said nothing for a minute. The sky was getting darker. The morning's calm had only been a brief intermission, and more bad weather seemed inevitable.
"I'm going to see." Karlene said quietly.
"Me too," Elliot stood, "Is that okay with you."
Karlene didn't respond. He went and put on some pants and then slipped his shoes back on. He heard the door close. Karlene wasn't waiting for him. So, he walked outside and down the street by himself. Turning off onto a rugged path, he descended the hill that led to a small creek, a frequent hangout for the children of the neighborhood. Now, it was home to Morgan Jacobs. She stood knee-deep in the water, drenched skirt dancing to the beat of the flowing current.
"They're here! Get ready!" Her voice lent itself to madness. Her haggard features were made all the more frightening by the full head of sloppy gray-hair, which flowed down to nearly her waist, mangled with knots and overzealous curls.
Elliot approached the growing crowd, coming up beside a man about his age. He'd seen him before. Then again, in Brick, you'd seen everybody at least once.
"She's been screaming that since I got here. She thinks 'they're' going to deliver her." The man informed Elliot even before he asked.
"Yeah. She said 'they' came last night, during the storm. Aliens, I guess."
Ms. Tuggle, itching for the opportunity to gossip, interjected herself into the men's conversation-"I heard her son was planning on putting her in a home next month. I suppose now he'll be paying a visit sooner than expected." She nodded as if to confirm that her sources were never wrong.
"Deliver me!" Morgan screamed at the gray sky, raising her hands up...stretching them in a futile attempt to grasp the heavens, "Bring me peace. Stop the pain!"
She twirled in circles. Faster. Twirling round and round. A loose rock moved beneath her, and her bare feet suddenly had nothing to stand on.
"Ohh!" She fell backwards, into the water.
Elliot left the man and Ms. Tuggle to their conspiracy theories. He went splashing into the creek and to Morgan's side. She was flailing wildly and slapping at the water, making it hard for him to grab her. The creek was only a few feet deep, but to her it was infinitely and threatening now. As he fished her out, she was spitting water every which way, her screaming coming across as more of a gargle.
Karlene watched her husband help the woman. She looked down at Jake, his eyes filled with pride for his father. That's all he knew about Elliot Fisher: the good. In his innocence, the bad was invisible. It simply wasn't there.
"Dad!' Suddenly Jake tore from his mother and joined his father in the middle of the creek. He hugged him around the waist, looking up in wonder at crazy old Morgan Jacobs, who was presently in a sort of daze. Jake gazed up at the sky, where she was staring so intently. A raindrop hit his face.
Morgan clapped her hands together like a giddy little girl, "Yes! They'll be sure to come now. Always when it rains. Yes! Ohh!"
Elliot looked back. The crowd had waned to almost nothing, but Karlene still stood there, radiant as ever at the water's edge as raindrops pelted her from above.
Jake tugged at his dad's hand, "C'mon, let's catch the rain on our tongues!" Morgan eyed him intently for a moment before she tilted her head back and stuck out her tongue at the sky. Jake squealed in delight, finding a new playmate in the old woman.
But Elliot was intently watching his wife and she watching him. The rain fell harder.
"I'm sorry." Elliot mouthed silently. He was innocent of cheating on her again, but he was still sorry. For everything.
It was hard to notice that Karlene was crying, as the rain mingled so discreetly with her tears. But she was.
"Me too," Her lips quivered. She sloshed out into the center of the stream, joining her family. Bursts of light flashed overhead, ensued by loud claps of thunder. Jake and Morgan were dancing. Karlene threw herself around Elliot and buried her face into his shoulder, "I forgive you. I love you."