A piece of lightning

Submitted into Contest #146 in response to: Set your story in an unlikely sanctuary.... view prompt

5 comments

Contemporary Fantasy Speculative

This story contains themes or mentions of mental health issues.

I was walking home yesterday, and I saw a piece of lightning sticking out of the ground. I squinted at it, looked behind me and back. It was really real, that was for sure. Between the bus stop and the corner, it was.


I looked at it.

I pressed my pupils on it real hard; I didn't want to miss a single detail.


It went up into the sky.

Man, oh man, lightning is hugely huge!


"Jesus, how did this get here?" I asked.


Nobody answered my question.


I approached one slow step at a time. I went with caution. As you would. I mean, who knows what it might do.


The lightning was powder black. Not bright white. It looked burnt. I suppose lightning is only white when it can jump around the sky, but this piece had gotten stuck. It had lodged itself into the world and solidified. It was planted. I scratched my skull. Then for no reason at all, I said, "yes", because my thoughts made sense. I agreed with myself, and then I said, "interesting".


I poked it with my shoe.

I did not die.

I relaxed a bit.


Just in case you have not seen some, let me tell you lightening is very fat at the part that sticks into the floor. It looks skinny when it is shooting around in the sky, but that's just an optical conclusion.


Fat. It is fat.


And then it goes up and divides, then that bit also goes up and splits. So tens become hundreds and hundreds, thousands, and all that, and all the subdivisions result in millions of little sticks sticking out. Protruding into the sky.


I took three steps back.

Measured with my eyes.

Took another step back, then I ran, jump-stepped the trunk and launched up to grab the lowest bow.


I grunted. Ufffff.


But I got it alright. My hand gripped nice and tight.

I hung, took a breath, curled up and swung my left leg higher to hook it on the bow. Next, I slowly mounted the joint to straddle the shoulder. Now I was sitting in the lighting, at the first branch. I felt quite equestrian. I parted the side with my palm.


I climbed into the thing and shuffled along one branch until it ended, and right there, I saw this tiny little bullet on the tip.


I squinted at it.

I lay flat and had a little sniff.

It smelt like gunpowder and lemon.

It smelt like it was very busy.

It smelt like something wanting to happen.


I looked around.


All the twig ends had bullets on them, and they're were millions of them. Smooth and little and itching. They wanted to pop. They wanted that so bad that I could taste it, like a tingle of steel on the tongue.


"Oi, oi, what's this then?" I said to the tip.


And then I could not believe what happened next. You see, the little bullet said absolutely nothing at all. It pretended that I was, in fact, not there. But there I was.


The wind blew, and my hair shivered.


"So what the hell d'you think you doing here?" I asked.


"I am waiting for spring! And then I am gonna explode, and you are gonna die when you see how fucking beautiful we all are!" said the tiny bullet.


I squinted.


I looked around. The entire giggle was giggling very, very quietly. A sorority of sisters all holding the same secret. It was quite electric, really. Infectious. And then my head started nodding, and my sense of humour leaked out all over my face, and I found myself grinning real hard; my eyes were so happy that they got a bit wet.


"Of course y'are," I said, "You know ezactly what you gotta do. Don't ya?"


The bullet said no more, she nodded back and forth on the twig, and after a moment of cosmetic reflection, I slid away, shuffled backwards, reached the start and got down. Then, on the floor again, I hugged the big black trunk of lightning, dusted myself off and carried on the walk back home.


I reached the corner and looked up, and that is when I saw another piece of lightning, much farther down the road, but it was getting late, and it was time to turn off the main road and go home. I could not visit that lighting too, so I screamed at it.


"Yo, yo. Yo!" I yelled at the top of my lungs, "I am watching-ching you!" and then tapped my eyeball and pointed to it.


All the branches with all their buds wiggled at me in the wind, they looked pretty hysterical, and I had a profound sense of accomplishment. The wind was roaring with the laugh of the loaded giggle. The violence of spring was on its way. All the pieces of lightning were armed and ready to do what they do. They know how to be who they are. They know how to be happy with their one task; they have done it for millions of years.


I wish I knew how to be happy like that. I wish I also knew what job I should do. Sometimes everything makes me feel very, very confused. My role here is not obvious to me. I am trapped inside the pip inside my head. I don't know what I am designed to do. I am very undefined. I do not have a forest to belong to.


My heart sank slightly, and my brow dropped as I turned the corner and headed to my cardboard house under the bush next to the highway bridge. The bramble hid it well. I crawled inside. The chill of winter was softening, thank God. I closed my eyes. An image on the back of my lids reminded me of what had just happened. It replayed the cheeky little bud on the twig. It made my eyes wet a little and my mouth smile a lot.


Maybe my job should be to witness the beauty of spring?


I can definitely try that.

I know I would be fantastic at that.


Yes. I will be the witness to how lightning blooms.


That's ezactly what imma gonna do.



May 16, 2022 19:40

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5 comments

L. Maddison
21:48 May 25, 2022

Hey Bruce, A powerful, punchy piece of writing, which left me feeling buoyant and kind of joyful. I loved this part: I wish I knew how to be happy like that…I do not have a forest to belong to. This felt like writing from the heart.

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Tommy Goround
21:43 May 23, 2022

Do you get the engineer groupies? I think maybe, yes.

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Tommy Goround
06:41 May 22, 2022

A second read gives unreliable narrator. Spring is coming with dead trees (from winter) and there will be all those bullets (buds) exploding into new life (like yuppies getting jobs) because they know their purpose is to make money (buy a house away from the highway) and fornicate and pay their taxes but the pip (brain condition/fixation/voice of howling freedom) keeps the narrator in nature; Waldon pond, a gunslinger -- the man who climbs lightening. Edited: tress to trees. Tress was an interesting typo..

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Bruce Thomas
12:34 May 23, 2022

Oh wow Tommy, you got me. XXX And showed me things which I had not intended, but do make sense from your POV. Thanks.

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Tommy Goround
06:31 May 22, 2022

Clapping. My favorite genre: symbolism...or symbols creating the reality (call it magical realism). I do so appreciate that you took the known (lightning) and recrafted it to something more than we typically see. And then you gave us a character, 2 points, Borges could never seem to give us a character worth reading...he is a master of the thoughtful but fails on the human element. I don't know what your symbol means. It is like a twist that I want to read again and see if the "bullets" and other things give me new perspective and thinki...

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