Day 97: The Storm Goddess

The Storm Goddess
Matt Zurbo


Lucy liked windows. She would stare out of them for hours. It worried her mother.
   “Why aren’t you watching television like other kids?” she would ask.
   “This is good,” Lucy would reply.
   Lucy’s mother would then look out the window.
   “There’s nothing there!” she would fret.
   “I’m daydreaming,” Lucy would say. “Daydreaming is fine.”
   Her mother meant well, she just couldn’t see what her daughter saw.
   Fire roses.
   Submarine telescopes in the long grass.
   Shark fins cutting their way up the road.
   Lucy loved windows, they held the world.

At school, none of the other kids quite understood Lucy, which was fine. She didn’t quite understand them.
   For homework on the animal kingdom, everyone else brought in photos and reports. Lucy pointed to a black cat outside.
   “Yes…?” the teacher said.
   “Black cats are the best,” Lucy replied.
   “Because they bring bad luck.”
   “And that’s good?” the teacher protested.
   Lucy knew she should do what she always did; say nothing. She knew the other kids wouldn’t get it, that they would laugh and tease and she’d be lonely. But today that was fine. She felt like being on her own.
   “Everybody always does the same things,” she said. “Black cats make people worried. They throw craziness into a room, without being crazy. Just by doing their own thing, walking past you. Slinking around.”
   Everybody watched Lucy in silence. Everybody looked at the cat.
   “That’s why I didn’t try and bring one in,” she continued. “Black cats are the boss. They simply put up with us being around.”
   And the kids laughed, and the kids teased, and Lucy was alone.

After school, Lucy went down to the jetty to stare at the ocean beneath her as if it was the sky. The way the clouds reflected off the surface always made her feel weightless, as if she was falling.
   She watched a small octopus, half hidden under a rock, using its tentacles to find a way to deeper waters, smoothly uncurling, becoming finer, and finer, until they reached their tip.
   In Lucy’s mind the tentacles never stopped, continuing to uncurl until they were covering the ocean, too thin to see.
   In Lucy’s mind the octopus was giant, roaming the ocean’s depths.
   In her mind, it was curing and uncurling, to the sound of whale’s songs.
   The little octopus was the most fluid, beautiful thing she had ever seen.
   Lucy wished she was looking at it through a window. She imagined one beneath her, and another, just off the jetty, framing the darkening sky.
   Another thing about Lucy was she was sure she could understand the weather when it spoke.
   “Did you hear that?” she said to an old fisherman baiting for gummy sharks.
   “Listen. I’m coming, it said.”
   The fisherman listened. He could just make out the distant rumble of thunder.
   “Oh,” he replied.
   There were more rumbles, so low and deep and far away, he couldn’t tell if he was hearing or feeling them.
   “I’m coming, I’ll be big,” Lucy echoed the sounds. “I’ll be angry and swirling and try and wash you all away.
   The fisherman looked at Lucy, then the horizon. His veins were rusty with salt. He’d spent several lifetimes at sea, had seen it all. There was something about the little girl’s tone – he didn’t laugh, didn’t tease.
   “Do you always talk with the weather?” he asked.
   “Always,” Lucy replied.
   The fisherman looked out to sea more, rubbed his leathery face. The slightest, cold breeze picked up, causing the rope on a few sales to ping against their masts.
   “Soon…” Lucy echoed their sound.
   The fisherman packed up his line and tackle box, then left to better tie down his boat.
   “Say hello to the storm for me,” he mumbled, as he left.
   Lucy watched and listened for the longest time. The rumbles never got closer, but increased in number.
   “You’re not ready yet, are you?” she whispered.
   “I’m building,” she could have sworn she heard the cooling breeze echo. “I’ll be here before dawn…
   Suddenly, there was a voice behind her. Loud and crisp.
   “Don’t you have somewhere to be, young lady?” her mum asked, as if it was a command.

There was a branch in the old willow at the cemetery’s edge Lucy liked to lie across, arm dangling above the tombstones. From there she could see the back of the industrial estate. She lay in the cooling air, above deceased mechanics, and “much loved”s and “dearly missed”s and “taken too soon”s, watching the dance class.
   Lucy hated them. They were free, and went towards her school score, but so what? They were the pits. Through a window-wall she saw her classmates learning the steps they were taught. One, two, three, four.
   “Dance shouldn’t have counting in it,” she said to the black cat sitting on the roof, above them.
   Inside they span and laughed. The teacher stopped the music, and made them do it again, and again. They span and laughed more, they smiled, in love with it all.
   “Music shouldn’t stop and start,” Lucy whispered to the window.
   Inside, they all looked at step-by-step sheets. They rehearsed. They improved.
   Lucy listened hard and grinned, as the instructor looked at the student sheet, called her name, and was met with no reply. She saw the class gathered in front of the instructor, talking to her, most probably about Lucy, then laughing.
   Lucy began to cry.
   Why couldn’t she just do their silly robot dances?
   Why couldn’t she just learn their stupid dusty moves?
   Why couldn’t she be happy like they were?
   Why couldn’t she just dance? They all could and were doing fine.
   They would learn their routines, there would be a show. Parents would grin and cheer and hug.
   “Damn windows…” Lucy mumbled, wiping away a tear, as in the distance the cat purred.
   Bad luck, bad moods, it was all the same to the feline.    

It was 2am when the storm broke. A loud BOOM raised the house and threw it down again. Everybody except Lucy kept snoring.
   She sat by the window, listening to the storm.
   “Hunker, hide!” the rain announced. “I’m here to break and shatter and drown.”
   But to Lucy it sounded like a call. She was already half way out the door.
   Standing on the jetty, bashed by the wind, burnt by the sea spray, Lucy took off her raincoat so she could embrace the storm.
   Rain fell like drums. Everything around her was drums! Each drop one of a billion! Drums on walls, on cars, bins, on jetty wood, on the boats being thrown around. Puddles became symbols, so did anything made of tin, the wet hiss of palm leaves was a song, the crash of waves.
   So many drums sizzled and rumbled, when the rain surged, they sounded like a thousand violins.
   “I want you to teach me how to dance!” Lucy smiled to the storm.
   And, without a four-beat, or instructions, Lucy felt the way the wind dips and pulses, so she dipped and pulsed.
   The way it fell hard,
   the way it fell soft,
   the warmth coming off the ocean, the cold from the air.
   Lucy moved her hands into it like an octopus, and rolled with the grace of a black cat, and swayed and snapped like trees. Under thunder and lightening, she let falling water pool in her eyes, on her lips and smile, let it roll off her fingers, become a part of her dance, as she became a part of the storm.
   Lucy was cold, wet, but felt unbelievably happy! Alive!
   The wind heaved and pushed over the jetty’s slippery wood. Lucy found it hard to keep her feet.
   “Show me your heart,” she whispered, in love with the storm.

Lucy felt scared. Somehow, black clouds parted. There, through rain, was some kind of giant – a Viking woman, an African lady, she wasn’t sure which. Maybe both. A lioness’s roar, the anger of a bullant, an avalanche’s hurt. It was hard to explain, hard to focus on. This enormous thing kept shifting and changing shape, depending on Lucy’s mood.
   This Viking, the African, this lioness, this woman raised her enormous, powerful arm into the sky, bringing her hammer down on an anvil a big as city blocks. Each time it hit, there was a CRACK! Lightening struck, again and again, travelling along, under clouds, sometimes hitting water, sometime ground.
   “I’m imagining this!” Lucy stuttered, through cold lips.
   She wondered, in that second, if she had imagined everything? Wasn’t she just an awkward outsider who daydreamed weird things to stop from being bored?
   What if she was just average, and drowning, and imagining a better way to die?
   “No, you are special,” the thunder said, as if it knew her thoughts.
   The creature lifted her head from forging lightening. It was a Viking, it was an African. It was a Lion’s roar.
   “I’m… weary,” it said, lowering its hammer, standing so tall it was almost lost in the clouds again. “My time has gone. Do you want to be the heart of all storms?”

Lucy’s parents came down to where their daughter went missing weeks ago. Every day they were there – with police, with ambulance teams, with search and rescue. The fisherman watched them and their worry and hope.
   Finally, they came on their own, to mourn, as rain began to fall.
   “She’s not gone…” the fisherman said, as they passed him, sitting feet over the edge, reeling in his line.
   “Excuse me?” Lucy’s mother replied.
   “It’s getting wet,” her dad fretted, pulling his jacket over his head.
   “I said; She’s not gone…” the fisherman repeated.
   “What are you talking about?” Lucy’s mum spat.
   “Your daughter. Most fishermen will tell you storms are living things, they have a heart. Your daughter was alone. She could speak to weather and dreamed just right.”
   “I don’t have time for this…” her dad grumbled.
   Lucy’s mum looked into the fisherman, through his stubble, his salty, beaten hide, into his eyes. There was a calmness, as if he knew things. Sad things. Important things, like what matters and what doesn’t.
   “Don’t reckon I believe in much, but I reckon storms are angry at the earth, and feed it at the same time. They need to be tempered. I believe that’s your daughter’s role now.”
   “Lunatic!” her dad barked, before marching off to the car. But her mum stayed behind.
   The rain began to fall in gusts. Heavy, then drizzle, that swirled this way, and that, before becoming heavy and falling again. It danced, as it always had, and always will.
   “So…” Lucy’s mum finally said.
   The fisherman looked to sea.
   “I think every time you feel rain on your face, that’s your daughter telling you she’s feeding the planet, that she’s a loner, but her heart is strong and wild.”
   The fisherman turned to Lucy’s mum.
   “Be out in the rain more,” he said, as it swept across them and the jetty and the world. “Listen when it falls. That’s your daughter thanking you, telling you she’s alive.”
   Lucy’s mum stared at the fisherman through falling water, felt it on her cheeks, through her hair, and cried… and smiled.


The End

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