The following is impromptu flash fiction based on a writing prompt. I found the prompt at thinkwritten.com. The idea was to write about the weather outside my window.
There is something I don’t like about this house: you can’t hear anything. I can look out the windows right now, at the impossibly tall and slim loblollies swaying in a hot-and-cool breeze against a gray wash of sky, and all I can hear is the tapping of my keyboard and the hum of the bathroom vent fan in the next room. Then the air conditioner comes on, and I hear the rush of filtered and chemically cooled air. I have to have it. I have allergies almost all year round, and especially now. Those same loblollies, the ones I long to hear rustling their leaves and creaking in their extremities: they make me so miserable and tired when they throw their pollen to the skies that I have fantasized about laying down on the dusty, linoleum floors of various supermarkets through a number of springs.
It took a long time to notice it. I can’t hear the outdoors. I thought that the storms were just more mild here, on the south side of town, in a brand new townhouse. There are added layers and things like firewalls between us and the neighbors. Our façade, front and back, is tall and slender, like the trees across the cul de sac. But that didn’t quite explain it, how I never heard a good, hard rain like applause for a thirst quenched, never heard thunder rolling up from over the freeway that sometimes sounds like thunder under the wheels of tractor-trailers, never heard any birds chirping or squirrels screaming or man’s foot on the pine straw as he walks from the brightness of neighborhood to the cool, dimness of forested abatement.
It’s the windows, I think. The windows in our old house were half a century old. More. They were just a pane of glass between you and the world outside. Just the bare minimum, one toddler’s fist away from shattering, one slim clearness between the palm of your hand and the trickle of rain. Sometimes they even rattled. These windows: look at them. They can’t be rattled. We’re double-thick, they say. We have firm, tight casements, sealed into place with so much rubber. We have screens so that you can open us. But the screen is just a blur, another few inches between me and the world. As if I could open the windows! Damn these allergies. Damn them.
I have had migraines—the bad ones—since I was five years old. I have a genetically bad disk in my back and have thrown it out completely a few times. I have high arches that cause almost constant tendonitis and I haven’t stepped down out of bed in the morning, without pain, in many years. In fact, my bunions are getting worse, too. And yet, despite searing, excruciating pain, knock-down and drag-out crippling of my body, nausea, vomiting, blindness, and the occasional need to be in a the deepest, darkest, most quiet hole I can find, you know what I think? I think that if God said to me, “Would you like to be healed?” and my face spread with a smile in anticipation, and He said, “Which will it be? Pick one thorn and I’ll remove it,” it would be the allergies. Because between times, between the fear and the despair, between the blasting pain and the worst of humanity, I want to be able to walk out the door and slip into leaves and river water and wind. I want to be able to hear the world in its birthday suit.