Electric Storm by Kathryn Aldridge-Morris

It’s been twenty minutes since the first bolt of lightning ripped a scar through the purple night sky. Since my mother said to swim in the rain ― it’s fun. Since her boyfriend Colin said he’d join us― to check we’re ok. She’d shrugged off the kiss he tried to burrow in her neck, lit a cigarette and sat on the deck. She wanted to stay; watch the storm from the villa, watch the rain roll in from across the Loire.

The water is eel-black. I swim close to the pool floor, broken tiles rubbing against my belly. A burst of white and I see everything: dead mosquitoes on the surface, my sister’s arms propelling, and a man’s naked body standing in the deep end. I stop moving, count twenty and thunder vibrates through the water. When I surface, we’re in blackness again, other than a solitary pool light that flickers to my left.

Your mum’s right, shouts Colin. This is fun.

Yeah, I say, and see my sister’s silhouette on the pool steps. Too many bugs, she says and heads back to the villa, her feet slapping quickly on the wet stone, the way little kids’ feet do.

You know the Bridge Your Legs game? calls Colin. Lightning flashes the poolside white and I see my flip-flops in the stiff grass and Colin’s clothes flung over a lounger bent in on itself.

I dip back below the surface and swim towards his legs. The contours fizz as his knees straighten. Under the water, the thunder rumbles like a bedsheet shaken. My fingertips brush his thighs. I tilt my hands against the flow of the water. Push ahead. His leg muscles close around my waist, clench, long enough to count two. He lets go. A cloud of blinding white light explodes overhead and from underwater I hear him shouting the storm’s right on top of us, could strike him any minute. Him being the highest thing around.

Kathryn Aldridge-Morris has work in journals including Pithead Chapel, Flash Frog, Ellipsis Zine, Bending Genres, Bracken Magazine, Emerge Journal, and Janus Literary. Her flash fiction also appears in several anthologies, most recently And if that Mockingbird Don’t Sing and the Bath Flash Fiction Award Anthology. She tweets @kazbarwrites

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