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Edge of A Storm

Short story By: LLS

Years ago, I spent a summer landscaping. One day there was a storm brewing. I adore rain clouds and lightning more than most things in life. As soon as the sun came up and I saw the dark clouds far on the horizon, I was convinced it was going to rain today, and I tried to burst the clouds with my mind. What I did not expect, is that my new Moleskin notebook would get broken is so quickly. That day, I became a story chasser.

Submitted:Dec 20, 2013    Reads: 63    Comments: 1    Likes: 1   

Edge of the storm
I was at work watching a storm come in from the east. I spyed on it from the corner of my eye. It would rain on-and-offand we would retreat under natural shelters. The thunder never came and work carried on, but I still watched the clouds.
While I was bent over laying bricks like puzzle pieces into an unfinished driveway, the rain began to pour and soak my shirt before I could even take the time to stand. The leaf umbrella that sheltered us earlier would no longer do, so we found ourselves inside the owner's garage with the door open so we could watch the sky fall.
While we waited, Mel, the co-worker with whom I exchanged the most words this summer shared a story with me. He told me that when he once lived in Singapore where he one day found himself standing on the side of a four lane highway. He stood there, drenched, in a drowning downpour while another man stood on the other side and was not hit by a drop. They stood on the edge of a storm. A simply story and saying that would slowly absorb into my mind as the day moved on.
At three O'clock, Sasha, who had just joined our landscaping team after moving from Russia, flicked his cigarette onto the ground as he exited the truck that he had lunch in. "Highway four-zero you take home correct?" he says. I nod. He tells me that he had just heard that the entire highway was at a standstill, that he had just heard it on the radio. A heads up to repay that many evenings I drove him to the train station. He mentioned while we drove that a pedestrian got hit, that that was the reason for the gridlock. At his destination, he waived his hand and thanked me to for dropping him off, I smiled at him but I still headed off towards the forty, even though I nearly always U-turned back towards the twenty. Why you may ask? Well, I deliberately headed into heavy traffic, one of the few that wanted my pace to be slowed and wanted to take my time getting home. While others ran late, I found peace in the fact I had nowhere to run. I used this time to toss the thoughts that had built up during the day and that, if it were not for heavy traffic, would soon fade away.
I scribbled notes into an open Moleskin notebook on the passenger's seat. As I did, the reason for the holdup was unveiled through the radio announcer's calm deep voice carried by careless radio waves. A woman had been hit by a semi-trailer. My heart sunk at the image of that, I could see that others around me had just heard the same. A passenger two cars away covers her mouth with her hand and squints her eyes, just enough for me to tell we felt the same kind of fleeting pain. I took a second to think of her last moment and the look the driver might have had in his eyes knowing there was nothing left to do. I noted it then put a CD in and turned the radio off.
Eventually the river of cars began to break and flow at its normal rate. I would now be home in just a few more minutes, but then the track changed and a song I had forgot existed began to play. Guitar strings began, followed by a drum beat that triggered a nostalgic day dream. Unconsciously my finger begins to tap the steering wheel while the cold air of a brewing storm blew through the passenger's window. I exhale and feel a chill flow up my back. I cut across three lanes in one swift motion without hesitation, which is soon followed by the sounds of horns reminding me I am an asshole. The orchestra of trumpets is useless communication from people that don't understand, and that I will never cross again. Road rage is a sport that has no fans.
Off the main way, I brought the car to a stop eager to watch the storm flow over me. There is nothing that I enjoy more than the smell of the air before a storm that changes a sunny day into a pyrotechnic show with perfect surround sound, and when the streets turn into rivers and ponds. The only thing I can fathom that might be better is a thunderstorm during a blizzard which I have heard are possible but have never experienced and still doubt could possibly be true. I took a deep break and inclined my seat just a bit and turned up the music. Parked in a vacant parking lot, I dreamt of what is hidden between all these lines.
The sound of a super-duty diesel engine stole my attention away from the dark clouds that crawled across the sky and re-directed it to my open window that the truck had stopped right next to. The look of dismay on my face was not seen by anyone, since my attention was further drawn to two more trucks pulling in behind the first. The last had a blue SUV sitting on its flat bed back. It didn't have a scratch, and looked like it was on its way to the new car lot. It was not. The first rain drop began to mix between fictional daydreams and reality.
A water drop landed on my nose when I got out of my truck with the intention to speak with the men that had just showed up. They were waiting here for something. I interrupted two of them that had just barely begun a conversation together, with an unusual lack of regard, I just needed to know. "Was this the truck that…" I partially asked as I pointed towards highway forty just a couple hundred yards away. They both nod in acknowledgement. I could tell that they were irritated when I intruded, but both of their faces turned to empathetic faces that didn't know how to feel. They were both rugged men that couldn't quite hide anymore in the shadow of this storm.
A beat or two passed, and one of them swallowed hard and looked at me. "It was a suicide." He said quickly and sternly. "Actually we were just talking about what the truck driver must be going through right now." He says as he alternates a pointing finger between himself and his buddy. "I mean I hit a deer once and I couldn't drive for a week." He said in an attempt to not get to mushy about this whole thing, his buddy forces a chuckle. The first Man walks towards me and grabs my arm and walks me towards the front of the Semi. He looks me dead in the eyes and says. "Her glasses are still stuck in the grill." And then just looks at me, reading my reaction to what he just said. My wide eyes dart around. "It's up to you." He says as he shrugs and walks back to his buddy. I take a breath, and think about how I ended up here, and feel like I have no choice by to step around the edge of the truck.
I stood in front of the MACK and I could see the silhouette of a female form imprinted into the polished grill. … … … Seconds passed, this took longer than the average image to take in. Traces of lipstick were just under the shattered eye glasses. I took slow steps forward and touched the grill. I am not a man that is easily led to believe, but I cannot deny that something passed through me when I touched the empty space where she had just been, and where she ceased to be. It made me instantly question whether or not life vanishes instantly or gradually fades away. May there be a short time where we can introduce ourselves to someone that has already gone?
I waved at the two men that waved back at me as I pulled away. The last thing they told me was that they had already found papers showing that she was buried in debt. I wish I could have shown her the moment that I find myself in. I've never valued money, but strive for stories and I wish I could have shared that with her. However I didn't know this was true until just a few moments ago and what would have given her a reason to step back only began to exist the moment she step forwards.
It began to drizzle as I pulled back onto the highway. Her Stormy Pink lipstick washed away. I'll never be the same, changed forever by a girl who couldn't stand the pain, while I never knew her name; I only waited for the rain.


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