(Originally published on LiveJournal)
So, I promised to post that fragment I unearthed. It’s been an adventure attempting that, between an old computer that didn’t want to deal with things, and a new laptop I’m not used to yet.
Anyway, here it is. I’ll be interested in your reactions. Especially since I have no idea where I was going to takethis story. Not a hint or clue. No notes at all with the fragment in the notebook.
_____The night raged around the wood-frame house, battering it with harsh rain. From time to time the darkness shattered away from the blinding belts that cracked from sky to earth, and the dark’s reverberating cry of fright would rattle the glass windows. The wind screamed round the corners of the building and ran madly off across the flat farmland.
_____Jeffrey stood in the living room, looking out at the storm and prayed that the fields would not be drowned. Planting had been completed three days before, the seeds laid down in the dark earth. If they were drowned, if they were washed away, he would be wiped out. There would be no way to cover his financial losses.
_____Jeffrey Bronstad lived alone on the farm his great-grandfather had settled. He hired help in town, but the boys and men all lived elsewhere. His friends considered him a pleasant, peaceable man, steady and reliable. The women, the single women, considered him steady but passionless: good for settling down with, if not for love. But everyone liked Jeffrey — in a mild sort of way. Jeffrey himself liked everyone — in a mild sort of way, for he never really gave likes and dislikes much thought. Until the night of The Storm.
_____He stood at his living room window, and his fingers curled up tightly into his palms. His jaw tightened. His clear grey eyes stared out at the lightning-shocked night, an intense light of their own growing as the rain continued to pelt downward to the soil.
_____Suddenly, he shook his fist at the storm. “Are you so sure you can defeat me?” he shouted. “My father, my grandfather, and my great-grandfather held on in spite of you and your like! I will too!” He stepped back abruptly from the window, astonished at himself.
_____Almost immediately, a powerful shaft of lightning struck the single tall pine in his yard. White light rolled down the trunk from the top branches and splattered on the ground. The crash of the immediate thunder broke on Jeffrey’s ears. Even as he staggered from the sound, he clapped his hands over his ears trying to protect them. His body shuddered with the vibrations.
_____Silence. Then the shishing of the continued rainfall. He shook his head and stared out the window. The pine tree smoldered in the precipitation, and still-glowing cinders dotted its branches. The heavy storm-clouds still hunched in the sky, but their definition was melting. Pale sheets of high lightning bounced across the tops of the clouds, but no further spears were thrown down at the earth. Jeffrey stared out at the sight in wonder. He had never experienced such an abrupt ending to a storm.
_____Something thumped on his porch and he spun from the window. The door to the porch stood in the middle of the wall opposite the huge window. He crossed and pulled it open.
_____The grey mesh of the screen door distorted the picture he saw. The single lamp on the porch, aligned as it was with the door, poured a pool of yellow light onto the painted wood floor. In the middle of that pool lay a heap of grey and black and paleness. It moved and a sigh like a heavy wind reached Jeffrey’s ears.
_____Streamers of black lifted from the heap and a piquant narrow face turned upwards toward him. The eyelids opened and her stormy-dark eyes looked into his.
_____He thrust open the door and knelt quickly beside her, lifting her to a sitting position. Her pale limbs were covered by some sort of shredded dress of a grey fabric. It felt strange under his fingers but he did not think about it. He simply stared into her face.
_____She stared back at him, almost not breathing. Then she shuddered. “I was so hot just a moment ago,” she murmured, her voice barely audible underneath the hissing of the rain.
_____He felt the goosebumps on her chilled arm, and drew her closer. She rested her head on his shoulder, and sighed.
_____Suddenly, his own skin contracted, sprouting its own fields of goosebumps. His throat tightened. His heart fluttered for an instant and a chill of panic ran through his veins.
_____He shook his head, as if that would shake off the whole effect. She pulled away from him slightly, but his arms tightened about her. “No,” he said. “Come inside.”
_____With that, he rose up and guided her into the living room. She stumbled a little bit and he noticed she had not shoes on. He settled her into a deep chair and went into action as a solicitous host.