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by Wilson Koewing

In the sky above Rouses Market, anvil-shaped thunderclouds matured. Jane Sprinkle — red hair draped over the hood of a yellow rain jacket — admired the looming storm and went inside.

At checkout, Jane noticed a woman in the next line, bouncing a baby on her hip.

“We watch you every day,” she said.

“I hope I’m doing a good job,” Jane replied.

“Oh, you’re our favorite.”

The cashier looked Jane over.

“You famous or something?”

“Only when I get the forecast wrong,” Jane laughed.

The same woman fought with an umbrella by the sliding doors as Jane approached. The baby howled as thunder crashed. Rain pummeled the parking lot. The smell of the storm through the doors sent Jane’s heart aflutter.

“Best wait it out,” the woman said.

“Don’t worry,” Jane said. “It won’t last.”

Jane flipped her hood and pushed the shopping cart into the downpour and as she neared her car the rain relinquished.

***

Jane flipped to the 5:30 news and put up groceries. The new afternoon weather girl, Munroe, appeared on screen.

When Munroe transferred, Jane watched her stride across the news floor with the grace of a cumulus cloud and disappear into the station manager’s office.

Overhead, thunder crashed so close a ringing lingered in Jane’s apartment; it was after such displays of unbridled power that she felt most alive inside.

“Expect scattered single-cell thunderstorms tonight,” Munroe said. “Single-cells often form after cold fronts come off the sea, making New Orleans uniquely positioned to produce them at above average rates.”

***

Jane’s previous relationship ended on a cruise. Sweltering to start with, the confinement of a room with a single porthole brought a coldness neither could have predicted.

One evening, as they stood on a high deck staring at the sea, Jane fantasized about pushing then girlfriend Cole overboard and wandering away as the ship’s wake churned her into the depths. They never spoke again after deboarding, but Jane sensed Cole felt the same.

***

Earlier that day in the breakroom, Jane’s fingers grazed Munroe’s as they both reached for a powdered doughnut.

“Take it,” Jane said.

“Jane Sprinkle, huh?” Munroe said.

Jane splashed cream into her coffee. “Yep.”

“Fitting.”

Munroe took a bite of powdered doughnut.

“We should get a drink,” Jane said.

“Tonight, after I do the weather?”

***

Jane spotted Munroe on the bar patio smoking, elegant, like someone photographed for a print ad from a distance. The sky could soak her at any moment, but she appeared unconcerned about the weather. Jane snuck inside without her noticing.

When she appeared holding a martini, Munroe’s smirk became a smile.

“Wow,” Munroe said. “You developed out of nowhere.”

“Like a single-cell.”

Munroe stood and stretched. She was not altogether fluid, more brought together by happenstance like a storm.

Munroe approached Jane with purpose.

Lightning chased across the clouds. Jane seized control, pushing Munroe against the wall. In harmony with thunder, they kissed as the sky opened up to drench them.


Wilson Koewing is a writer from South Carolina. His work is forthcoming in (Mac)ro(Mic), Fiction Kitchen Berlin and The Loch Raven Review.