She caught me looking out the window.
All around us, everyone else seemed totally focused on the moment, the dance, the thumping bass music pumping out of the cheap, slightly tinny speakers. It was enough – almost – to drown out the sounds of an angry Nature from outside the hall, her breath howling as she mustered up her weapons to break the tenuous peace with the surface below.
She saw me looking out the window, listening less to the female singer shouting about how she needed to get up on the dance floor and more to the rolling thunder, approaching like the pounding of hooves from an onrushing stampede. She reached out, caught at my hand.
I looked up, surprised and ready to defend myself – but she just smiled, tugged me away from the dance and the other people, the sea of humanity. She led gently, but it was enough to encourage me to follow.
Outside, the wind howled around the edges of the building, making the leaves on the trees rustle and flex as they sensed the oncoming storm. Heedlessly, we rushed out, away from the main building. She dashed ahead of me, but I guessed her destination. Her light feet carried her ahead of me, off into the trees.
A minute later, my heart pounding in my chest from my exertions, I burst out of the copse and into the clearing. There, up ahead, I saw the old barn with its tin roof, standing like a lonely soldier in the middle of the field. She vanished inside, but I paused for a moment to gaze up at the dark, open sky.
Directly above me, the stars were still visible – but off to the east, the storm approached, darker even than the night sky. The rolling thunderclouds blotted out all signs of light from the heavens, black except for the occasional muted, contained flash of lightning.
Inside the barn, I heard creaking from the upper rafters. I searched for the wooden rungs of the ladder in the near darkness, ascended to the second level. A giggle from near the upper window revealed her location to me.
As I sat down beside her, lying on a pile of old blankets that scratched slightly at my skin and smelled faintly of horse, the first boom of thunder hit us. The whole barn vibrated slightly, and I felt a chill sweep through me, the hairs on my arms rising up as if electrified. We gazed out through the open window, watching as the sheet of rain swept towards us across the fields. The stalks of tall grass rippled and bent under the sudden onslaught.
And then it was upon us. Noise assaulted my senses as the metal roof vibrated with the hits of a million raindrop drummers. Soon, however, the initial deafening staccato subsided into background as my ears became accustomed to the new sound.
She moved in closer to me, burrowing in and seeking my warmth. I put my arm around her, feeling her slender body, her soft skin press against mine. We gazed out into the field, watching the haze of falling rain.
Lightning cracked, loud as a whip, and a huge fork of white light split the sky into shattered pieces for an instant. The thunder followed immediately on its heels, battering my ears as my eyes still recoiled from the after-image of that blaze. She moved in closer, and I held her.
Back in the main building, I knew that my friends, her friends, ignored the storm as they partied, drank, danced the night away. But we were out here, lost in our own little private world. The moment felt perfect, like a little shimmering bead of dew on the edge of a leaf. I knew that it was just as transient, that it would pass any moment – but I held it gently, mesmerized.
Surrounded by the storm, smelling the sharp tang of ozone in the air, listening to the steady drum of rain accompanied by the hiss of wind and the occasional roar of thunder, feeling her warmth contrasting against the chill in the wet damp, I floated. I thought of nothing, did nothing.
I simply was.