Music: Constantinople by Joseph Tawadros and James Tawadros
From: Permission to Evaporate (2014)
Composer: Joseph Tawadros
Warnings: lack of editing warning
The heat has been building for days, maddening. The sort of heat that leaves you breathless, that fuzzes up the mind and makes everything more difficult than it’s ever been before. The sort of heat that leaves you drenched in sweat before you even get out of bed in the morning, the sort where you wake up in the middle of the night and find your pillow soaked through with sweat like you’ve poured a bottle of water there in hopes of cooling yourself down.
It’s been building to a storm. Any idiot can see it, even without the constant stream of worrying from the newscasters and meteorologists. Blond men in suits promising the rains are coming, day after day, like they’re banking only on the notion that sooner or later they’ll be right, and everyone will forget the days and days of wrong.
She’s been a ghost for days, the heat dragging away the colour from her, until even the long bohemian skirts she wears even in the middle of a heatwave seem dulled with heatstroke. Her bare feet pad over the tiles, towards the doors and the windows in hopes of even the tiniest hint of a breeze.
There’s none coming. Not until the clouds are gathering to the south, grey black and heavy with anticipation and promise. Still, over and over, she tries to call the rains, tries to call the wind.
She always knows when the storms are coming, even before the clouds have built up. Like mother nature shakes her awake in the early hours, whispers into her ear that it’s time.
She woke up this morning grinning, stretching like a cat, graceful and contented, curling her body around mine and kissing me awake like there’s nothing in the world she wants more than the taste of me. Not a bad way to wake up. Still, when she can untangle herself enough to go for a shower, when I have a minute to myself to catch my breath and slow my heartbeat, I make a list of things to prepare. And then I go climb into the shower with the girl with the storms in her blood.
I’m not an idiot, after all.
Storms? They’re in her blood. They rile her up, leave her restless and aching with the need to run out into the rain. She paces, not looking for breeze, but waiting on the clouds. She’s distracted all day, goose bumps dancing on her skin like someone’s raked an ice cube up and down her arms to make patterns, braille messages of promise for a fun night to come. She barely notices when I wander out to move everything outside to safety, when I start turning off the appliances, just in case. All except her battered old CD player.
She’s the sort of girl who’ll turn the music up loud and go outside to dance in the rain even when every lick of instinct says it’s too dangerous. The lightning is purple bright, snaking across the sky but not quite ready to attack. Yet. Soon, though. The rain is coming when the music starts up, fast and frantic, all drums and fingers dancing on strings too fast to be fully human. She’s in my arms in a heartbeat, kissing her way up my throat and to my lips like there’s nothing in the world more important than this moment between us, and then she dances from my grip, ghostlike for a few moments more before the rain comes and washes her back into her body again like a drenching sort of necromancy.
She twirls out the door, the skirt spinning outwards like it knows how soon it’ll be sticking itself to her legs, hampering her movements. It won’t stop her. It never does.
Sometimes it seems like the rain waits until she’s outside, waits until it can kiss her skin before it bothers showing up. She’s outside, arms raised like she’s calling the storm to her, her head turned upwards, eyes closed like she’s waiting on god himself to kiss her. There’s a crack of thunder, too loud to be safe, to not shake its way through the veins, and then the world is full of the sound of heavy rain, so loud the music is lost to the too fast drumbeats on the roof.
I can’t hear her laughing, but I know she is. The rain is cold- was probably going to be hail for a while there- and after so much heat the first touch of cold is a playful kind of assault on the senses. She’s drenched in seconds, drenched like the rain is washing away every last trace of the unbearable heat, like it’s apologising. She doesn’t stop smiling, doesn’t lower her face or try and stop herself getting lost in the howl of the wind and the sting of the rain, like the music’s been replaced with a music she understands far more clearly than the strings and the drums.
She spins like she’s dancing for the rain, like if she dances long enough the rain won’t leave. The lightning dances alongside her, lighting up the sky while the colours of her clothes light up the backyard below it, twisting and snaking like they’re twins.
Her eyes are as bright as the lightning, like she’s caught it and swallowed it down deep inside of herself. She looks to me, holds out a hand, offers me safe passage into her ritual like she can protect me from harm by sheer force of will alone.
There’s something in that look that stops me shaking my head, staying inside where it’s safe and dry. She’s dancing when I open the door, her expression somehow so much happier, so much more alive. She laughed at the sudden violence of cold. I wince. She doesn’t hold it against me, simply grabs my hand, drags me further into the chaos, and presses her lips to mine.
Suddenly, the cold’s not so bad.