joannebest











{July 4, 2013}   Candlelight Reading ~ A Tower Story ~ 6

candlereading
A noisy rumble of thunder rang throughout the tower followed by a show of lightening spectacular enough to rival the last Macy’s Forth of July fireworks display I’d seen, back before everything went to Hell.
I remember watching it from a friend’s penthouse terrace in the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
Even though it was a bit of a distance from the barges on the Hudson we were high enough to not only see the fireworks exploding above us but we could also see them reflecting off the windows of the other tall buildings surrounding us.
Another loud crash of thunder made even me jump but poor Mal was terrified. He did his best imitation of a Halloween cat, his back arched, fur all at attention and hissed at the air above him.
The kid just ignored all of it, me, Mal, and the storm raging outside. He had his nose buried in a book, head down, shaggy hair in his face, index finger periodically pushing his broken glasses back in place.
There was a store in town that sold eyeglasses but I was no optometrist, unless they had the kid’s prescription in stock he’d have to make do with whatever we could scavenge.
Our last trip into town had been fruitful to say the least.
Our water supply was overflowing, we had a nice sized stock of canned goods but best of all, we had a mountainous stack of books we’d helped ourselves to last time we walked into town.
I also had a brand new stash of lace and silk pretties I’d lifted from the lingerie store. They were the one luxury I allowed myself these days. I’m all jeans and boots on the outside and not just for practical reasons. Casual was always my preference. Even before the world went away I was a jeans and boots girl but underneath my clothes I indulged myself with luscious lingerie.
So what if the apocalypse came and went and we still didn’t know why?
I was wearing lace now same reason I wore lace before, because I wanted to.
I don’t know why World War III happened on my watch and I don’t know why however many of us that it was that survived did survive that ugly pain-filled death that exterminated most of the human population. I was stubborn then and I’m stubborn now. But it wasn’t stubbornness that kept me from getting sick like the rest of the world. I’d always loved a good mystery, I loved to figure things out and figuring out why I was still alive was front and center in my mind every single day.
Another crash of thunder, this one loud enough to rattle the windowpanes, interrupted my musings over government conspiracies and the end of the world as I knew it.
The rainfall was torrential. Water poured down from the sky like somebody up there turned on a faucet full force.
It was actually kinda nice.
I always loved a good hard rain, especially when I was near the ocean. The sound of the rain mixed with the sound of the waves crashing violently against the shore was soothing to me.
Once when I was a kid my family was taking our usual yearly summer vacation, we always rented a shore house but this particular year we’d finally rented a place right on the beach. It was a big old Victorian-style house with plenty of balconied bedrooms and a huge wooden deck on the beach itself. That first day we unpacked, went out to dinner and played miniature golf.
We couldn’t wait to go to sleep so we could wake up early to watch the sunrise over the ocean. That very first night a nor’easter blew in and it rained the entire week. We didn’t see a speck of sunshine till we drove out of town.
Although my brothers had cabin fever by the second day, I spent a week curled up in a cozy window seat dividing my time between watching the beauty of the storm and reading the pile of books I’d brought with me.
This was the same kind of storm, and after our last bookstore run we had books piled all around us.
Kid had his nose buried so deep in whatever he was reading that it wasn’t until I tossed a book in his direction that he finally looked up.
“Geez! Whaddya want? I’m reading something!”
He was crankier than me these days.
“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” I ignored his brusque tone of voice, not everyone enjoyed cabin fever the way I did.
“Check it out, there’s some good stuff in that book-”
“Tom Brown’s Field Guide To City And Suburban Survival!” He was practically hyperventilating with excitement as he interrupted me. “I used to have this book! This is awesome!” He immediately began flipping through the pages. “You know I think there’s some stuff in here about making a heating system so it’s not so cold in here…” his voice trailed off and he looked down at the book in his hands before looking me straight in the eye.
“Umm, hey,” he mumbled so quietly I could barely hear him. “Thanks for, you know, just thanks.”
We didn’t usually say much to each other. I remembered what it was like to be a shy kid. I couldn’t imagine what he’d been through on his own and I was hoping that eventually he’d open up to me if I didn’t keep badgering him.
He was finally starting to warm up to me a little bit. I was determined to somehow make things as normal as possible in this non-normal world we found ourselves in and I didn’t want to jeopardize his tentative efforts to reach out to me.
“Yep, no problem Kid,” I held back a smile as he tried to hide his look of displeasure over my nickname. Maybe if I said it enough he’d tell me his actual name.
Another loud rumble of thunder shook the tower and I looked over at the kid, face buried in his book and wonder of wonders, Mal was curled up in his lap purring.
It’s a start, I thought as I pulled a blanket tighter around me and went back to rereading a shop-worn version of A Little Princess.
mal looking at rain
to be continued

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