Image of Long Story Short Award - Fall 2020
Image of Short Fiction
Rory was watching the sky, as at regular intervals it lit up for just a moment with electricity running from cloud to cloud. It was odd, she thought, how unremarkable something such as lightning could be without the roar and rumble of its companion.

As her eyes flashed briefly with the yellow of the currents above, Rory leaned back on her hands. No, she realized, lightning is fleeting; it’s momentary. It is forgettable.

It’s the impact it makes that follows you. The kind of rumble that shakes the earth beneath feet, that is felt in the chest, that even adults can’t learn to ignore.

Lightning you can hide from. All you need is a room without windows. Thunder though, it always finds you, and it announces the arrival of that which you are too afraid to see.

Something made Rory long for the thunder that did not come as the lightning above her merely jumped between clouds. Perhaps she felt as trapped as the bolts of electricity above her. Moving from place to place but ultimately getting nowhere, she mused. No matter how far she travelled she always ended up in the same place.

She needed thunder to strike. She needed her ground to shake. Losing herself and then finding herself had been difficult, and at the same time she had had an end goal to work towards, to be excited for.

Here now, Rory didn’t see any sort of end in front of her, she only saw sameness. One word bounced around her head and her heart the same way the lightning bounced around the sky; the word ‘trapped’. Despite always moving forward, Rory never got anywhere. Despite always having been told that facing fears will lead you to where you need to be, Rory had never been so afraid, she had never pushed through so much fear.
Still she went nowhere.

Further tilting her head towards the sky and allowing her eyes to fall closed, Rory sucked in a breath of the cold night air around her and let it out shakily. There couldn’t be anything worse than being used to this feeling, she thought.

The feeling of being powerless. A deep emptiness that sits right above your lungs, and while being the sheer absence of anything, the weight of it bears down, making it difficult to breathe.

Learning to live with this feeling was something Rory had done a long time ago; it woke with her in the mornings and fell asleep with her at night. Still, she felt the pain of having such a helplessness become normal to her.

She felt she had exhausted all her resources. Trying everything she knew to try had not gotten her any closer to her goals or true happiness. She let her hands fall out from under her and laid flat on her back, opening her eyes to again admire the scene above her.

Rory let out a soft gasp swallowed by the wind around her as she realized that she and the lightning above her had more in common than simply being trapped. There was an extraordinary power that they possessed, and that power not making an impact didn’t make it any less significant or important.

Rory pushed herself into a sitting position. She would have to figure out how to make her own thunder, she realized. If waiting for it to happen would drive her crazy, then the solution was simple.

She’d make her own thunder, just like lightning always did when it struck.