'Some Things She Taught Me About Heat' by Gaynor Jones


I asked her,

‘What are you, some kind of storm chaser?’
She told me,

‘I’m just a girl who likes heat.’


*

I asked her,

‘Isn’t this kind of dangerous?’

She told me,

‘More dangerous on the ground.’

She shrugged as she passed me the skewered mallow. The tiled roof was slick but our feet were wedged by piping. I moved the mallow to my mouth but she caught my arm.

‘Wait.’

‘For what?’

‘For it to melt.’

‘Where’s the fire?’

She pointed skyward as the lightning blazed.

‘There.’

*

I asked her,
‘What are we doing here?’
She told me,

‘It looks enormous in the sky. So immense your brain doesn’t know what to do with it. But each bolt is really only the width of your thumb.’

She pressed her thumb to mine and held it there. She held her other hand up, traced her fingers over the echo of the light left behind, then over to my face, my neck, my collarbone.


*

I asked her,

‘Where can we be together?’

She told me,

‘Lake Maracaibo is the most lightning-struck place on Earth. They get thunderstorms 150 nights of the year that last 10 hours at a time.’

I asked her,

‘What would we do with the other 14?’

She kissed me, then more, and I pictured white-blue flashes as I came.


*

I asked her,

‘What’s with the marshmallows?’

She told me,

‘Lightning is hotter than the sun. Over 100 000 degrees. Marshmallows only need 103 degrees to melt, but I like to try it. Every storm since I was a kid, I’ve tried to catch the heat.’

I watched her, laughing as she waved the stick into the sky. Raindrops catching in her collar bone. Flashes lighting up her eyes. Her lips folding around the mallow.


*


I ask her,

‘You wanna come outside with us?’

She tells me,

‘No way, you guys are crazy.’

She grabs a marshmallow from the bowl and tosses it far back into her mouth, then turns up the volume on the TV.

I step out into the yard and stand with our children. When the sky lights up, we count together. They count the seconds, but I count the years. I count the years since those nights on the roof, and wonder when we both stopped caring about heat.

Comments

  1. Great flash - especially that last paragraph. Really well done.

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