The rain beat against the windows mercilessly. Thunder crashed over head, and lightning illuminated the darkness as the storm continued. I sat on my usually cozy couch, hugging my knees to my chest, waiting. Waiting for what? I was not sure. But, I knew something was coming.
I closed my eyes and leaned back, lost in the beauty of the storm. I felt the boom of the thunder travel through my very being, into my core. I closed my eyes and let it capture me, let it take my mind and cleanse it with the rain. I waited, allowing myself to become a part of the storm.
Nerves had kept me awake. Nerves had interrupted my sleep. Nerves had kept my mind racing, my feet pacing as I struggled to understand what seemed to be nothing. Yet, every time I sat down, a pang would wrench my gut back into worry. I wrung my hands together, my knuckles cracking loudly. Mother had always scolded me about that, but I didn't care. "You'll get arthritis," she had said. "Your beautiful hands will become so ugly."
I laid on my stomach, my face against a soft, almost fuzzy pillow. I sighed, feeling my stomach clench again. Something was very wrong, but I knew not what. My lips moved in a silent prayer. I wondered exactly what I was praying for, but it had to be very important.
A bolt of lighting accompanied the thunder that came tumbling through the rainy air. The digital clock read 3:39 am right before it went out. My electricity was gone. I pulled my self up from the couch, the fabric of my light blue camisole unwrinkling as I straightened. I found a candle under the kitchen sink, and some matches in the cabinet. I lit the candle, carrying it back into the living room with me. It was not a long walk. I lived in a tiny house. My curtains were drawn back so that I could watch the storm. I left the candle on the windowsill, the fire burning a bright contrast into the night.
I let my eyes linger on that flame. Its steady glow kept my mind from the dark edges of worry. I focused on its movement, the way the orange flame danced as I exhaled, and the reflection it had in the glass. I watched the hot, white wax drip down, collecting in a pool at the base of the candle. I got lost in that little flame… lost in the hypnotizing fiery dance it creates when one stares at it long enough. The reflection in the window mirrored it in my eyes as well. I looked like a mad woman- the fire in my eyes almost burned brighter than the candle itself.
Another deafening thunderclap nearly muffled a knock at the door. I pulled my hoodie closer around my body, the fuzzy black fabric making me feel safe. There was a knife in my pocket, something I let my fingers wrap themselves around for security as I made my way to the door. I pulled the hood over my head out of habit, feeling foolishly more protected.
Peering through the curtains, I saw a man at the door. He was soaked to the skin, his clothes plastered to his body and his hair dangling in his face. I gasped. The door swung wide open. "W-what are you doing?"
"Car… accident." he managed to get out. "Walked three miles…."
I let him in without further question. I took off my hoodie- it was his anyway- and wrapped it around his shivering body as the rain that clung to him moved slowly to the floor. "Come. Sit. Let me get you a towel…"
"Stay." he whispered. His eyes, his dark, soulful eyes, stared into mine, unblinking. My breath caught in my throat and I obeyed. "Aris," my name escaped his lips. "Don't go."
"Please," I said, my whisper equally low. "Let me get you dry."
His hand gently touched my cheek. His thumb slid over it, his fingers tracing my jaw line. The corners of his mouth tugged in a smile. "Hurry back."
I bolted to my room, using the candle to guide me. I had nothing of his, really… we had only been together two months. I found a pair of his sweatpants and another one of his hoodies. The pants were navy blue and the hoodie coal black. They did not match but I doubted he would care. I found a blanket, a light, yet comfortable one, and carried the three items to the living room, along with a soft, red towel. He peeled off his shirt and hung the towel over his neck, little splashes hitting the floor as he did so. "You're bringing the storm in," I teased, love in my eyes.
"I am the storm." he murmured, drying himself off, maintaining eye contact. His dark hair was rubbed nearly dry before he even touched his skin. He excused himself to the bathroom to finish, taking my light with him. I sat in the darkness, feeling oddly at peace.
I stretched out on the couch. He was taking a long time. It didn't take that long to dry off. I felt relieved, as if whatever I had been dreading had ended. The calm that came over me caused me to become drowsy, and I let my eyes close, content.
Warm lips on mine made my eyes flutter open. I hugged him, and sat up without breaking the kiss. "Hello." I whispered.
He had left the hoodie unzipped, but seemed dry enough. "Sorry to deprive you of light," he joked. "Your bathroom is a minefield of femininity in the dark."
"Shush." I smirked. He sat next to me and pulled me close, keeping his arms around me. "What happened to you?" I asked.
He grew solemn. "Tree. It fell… crushed the hood of my car… I was on my way home… Nearly killed me."
He swallowed before continuing. "The wind knocked an old oak down right as I was driving under it. It hit the hood and the roof- engine is smashed. There's no saving it."
"No, the other part." I said as he looped his fingers with mine, nuzzling my cheek with his lips.
"A branch came through my windshield… it was going to impale me… but I saw this flash …. Not lightning, different… this white that was brighter… it pushed it, missed me by half an inch. It was an angel, Aris."
I let go of his hand. "You saw an angel?"
He shook his head. "Not really. But… I was saved by one. I know it." He took my hand in his, running his fingers along my arm with the hand draped over my shoulders.
I reached up with my free hand, pulling his face to mine, gently kissing him. "Thank God," I whispered, my lips not half an inch from his mouth. "I couldn't sleep… I didn't know why… but I was so worried…"
"Did you pray?" he murmured, letting me snuggle against him.
"I think it saved you."
"I think so, too."
He was here, healthy and whole. A tear slipped out of my eye as I pondered what could have happened to him. We said nothing after that- we simply stared into the flame of the candle, burning brightly on my coffee table.
How funny life is, I thought to my self. One minute we have the flame and spark of it in us, but it could be gone in just a moment by a breath of wind.
I tightened my grip on his hand. He must have sensed my thoughts, because he came forward and kissed my forehead. I pulled him close, embracing him with all my might, never ever wanting to release him. I kissed his cheek, so thankful, so grateful that he was alive and well. "Thank you, God," I whispered. "Thank you."
Somewhere, his car was in ruins beneath a tree. Somewhere, thunder came out from hiding and rolled across the night sky. Somewhere, lightning was called forth from the depths to ignite the passion of the sky. Somewhere, rain was born before it crashed to the earth. But here, in my home, was my Shawn, holding me close, alive and well, because of a God who cared enough to awaken me, and use my prayers.
We fell asleep like that, caught in an immortal embrace. The rain lulled us into it. It was safe there, in that hug, and neither wanted to let go, knowing how close we had come to being taken so suddenly from each other, our connection permanently lost, all due to a freak storm, and the power in the wind.