Drink the Lightning
Alex hates rain. Really hates it. And for a long time, I did too. Nothing good ever came from standing in the rain. Or kneeling. Or lying, face down in the mud as the pillager behind me grunted his way to the finish line like a 300-pound running back bent on tasting blood. All slam and no mercy.
A thunderstorm raged the night I was raped, and Alex knows this. Despises the man who did it, loathes the rain that pierced my stripped-bare body as my heart screamed his name in ceaseless incantation, “Save me, Alex, save me.”
He knows. My lover of three years, my soul mate from the beginning of time. He knows.
So when he says, “Come with me,” I’m suspicious. The sky is a dusky greenish-purple, devils’ fingertips tangling the Oklahoma grass. Alex has studied me all day, a soft, sad expression darkening his hazel eyes to jade, distant lightning flashing. His white button-down flaps in the wind as he steps outside, letting the screen door bang.
“Alex, it’s about to storm,” I protest.
“Yes, it is, isn’t it,” he says. His voice is strangely flat, determined, and before the thunder cracks I feel the recognition rocking through me. I don’t have to ask where we’re going. This is a fantasy I once craved, but now its proximity scares me. I know what he wants, but I’m not sure I have it to give. Love can only perform so many miracles.
“You don’t have to do this,” I say, running behind him and catching his sleeve. “You hate the rain.”
“Let’s change that,” he says. And then he takes my chin in his hand, rough to smooth, and pulls my mouth to his, lips grazing mine as he speaks. “It’s time, Jess.”
Back bowed, he mounts the hill leading to the barn. My barn. The barn that’s stood on this property more than a century, housing horses, cattle, and every dream I’ve ever held. A drop of rain taps my shoulder with a sound as slight as mustangs’ hooves thundering beneath a starless sky.
Alex stops, turns, and holds his hands out, palms up. A smile creeps across his face, and I suck my breath between my teeth. God, he’s beautiful, a luminous Lucifer standing beneath an upside down hell threatening to drown us both. A tremor runs up my spine and out my fingertips.
“It’s time,” he repeats, and I match palm to palm. Alex leads me to the barn, walking backwards, murmuring encouragement as if I’m a wild mare, whispering so low I only catch pieces of words, the last unmistakable: “It’ll be okay.”
How can anything ever be okay again, Alex? But my feet follow, independent of my brain. We’re getting soaked, and I feel naked in my thin sundress. We’d had a picnic in bed earlier, but Alex hadn’t wanted to make slow Sunday afternoon love. Instead, he’d fed me apples and grapes, bits of cheese, bites of chocolate. I’d brushed my hands across his chest and he’d held them firmly, gazing out the window and glancing at the clock.
The barn seems much farther away as we climb the steep, wildflower-strewn hill, but it’s only a few hundred feet from the house. In the murky gray curtain that surrounds, the house looks drab. Haunted. In a way, I guess it has been. My assault has seeped into every corner, oozed between the cracks. It hasn’t reached the bed — yet.
I turn my attention back to Alex as he leans against the weathered gray boards, hands outstretched, feet crossed, gazing at me like I’ve been away for years and will vanish if he blinks.
“You’re getting wet,” I say, watching the stream sluicing from the eaves, skating down his chest across his bulging jeans. I’m surprised to realize I’m getting wet too, my nipples standing erect, the deepest, innermost parts of me beginning to tear free and flood the white cotton. In my fantasy, I was wearing something hotter, though I don’t remember what. No underwear maybe.
A rush of happiness ricochets through me as I stare at this man who loves me — rain dripping from his hair, running down the collar of his shirt, chasing along his cheek. There’s no discomfort in his eyes, no look of hurry or concern, and I’m not concerned either.
Alex cups the rain, lifting his hands to my mouth, and I tease the water’s borders with my tongue before greedily drinking. He’s always been one for symbolism, this man I’ve chosen. I take his hands and push them beneath my dress, over the curves of my hips, across flat plains and rolling landscapes to the land he seeks. He would kneel and suck me into his mouth if I asked. Press me to the wall and finger me to a shuddering climax if I desired. He’d do anything I wanted.
I want to be bonded to him, foreheads touching, his flesh soldering into mine, voices keening a song only we know. I want to feel the deluge spilling, gluing us together, breaking me apart.
I unzip his pants and press my fingers against him, lifting my knee to his answering hand. We change places and the wood digs into my back, sloughing the other man’s fingerprints away as the man I love thrusts gently, driving me deeper inside myself to a swirling eddy of want, need, wholeness.
It’s slow, this process. Erasing the past takes time. When the clouds lift, I look into Alex’s eyes and whisper: “Come with me.” And he does, a holy baptismal bathing my insides, cleansing my soul. The rain is slacking up now, a thin trickle in a chalky sky. But we’ve just begun. Clinging to Alex’s neck, I kiss him fiercely and hug his sodden, panting body, feeling the goose flesh rise along his skin and make the narrow jump to mine.
“It’s okay,” I say. And for the first time in a long time, I believe it.
Copyright © 2008 by Alecia Langley. All rights reserved.
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