The Oaken Sky

When you can no longer change a situation, the challenge is to change yourself. An offering of flash fiction steeped in the currents of transmutation and potential energy…

The rain glowed as it fell, the neon lights of the city illuminating each drop and imparting to it a million shades of color. Like tiny, teardrop-shaped rainbows, each drop burst forth with a splash of color and an infinitesimal push downward on the realm below. 

The rain brought a richness to each hue, the colors deepening in a way that brought a much needed steadiness to her soul. She sat on the window seat in near darkness, her legs pulled up close to her body, her chin on her knees and her forehead pressed against the cool surface of the window. The rain flowed in chaotic sheets down the surface of the glass, the dynamics of surface tension and atomic attraction dictating the undulating path the colorful liquid took as it distorted the city beyond. 

She sat there for a long time and thought of the last few years. The sound of the downpour blurred into one long, whirring noise, like the rotor blades of a helicopter, the collective sound merging with the totality of her thoughts. She thought of the people she’d loved, of wasted youth, and of time lost. She counted all the times she had put more energy into something than she had received back. She pretended she was somewhere far away from all the hurt and disappointment she’d felt. She imagined herself as a broken vase, the pieces of what once was whole strewn across the floor, tumbled from the high shelf where a younger version of herself had once resided. She imagined herself as a butterfly caught in a spider’s web. Newly emerged from its cocoon yet just as quickly caught in the clutches of a force she could not escape, no matter how hard she struggled. She thought of beginnings and endings. Of the good that comes with the bad until the bad drowns out all the good. She thought of passages from beloved books and poems that gave her strength and the dangers of hopefulness and the heaviness of regret. She thought of the monsters within her that she could never truly excise and how when she was at her lowest they conspired to consume and redefine her. 

The rain fell and the people of the city went about their lives and she sat and looked without really looking and felt without really feeling and it was enough to get her through another sleepless night. The rain was oblivious to the life it gave, its quenching of the soil and nourishment of the lifeforms that depend on its goodness. Its ability to wash away the detritus of the world and leave in its path the possibility of renewal, of growth. She craved that renewal. Pushed towards it like a young shoot reaching upwards towards the life-giving sun. 

As dawn broke over the skyscrapers of the multiform city, chasing away the oaken sky, she left her perch at the window and moved silently across her apartment to the bathroom. She turned on the shower and slipped out of her robe. The water was warm and fell upon her in powerful sheets. It was ordered and defined, a far cry from the cold chaos of the rainstorm which had defined the night. She tilted her head back and let the water flow over her face, lost in its warm embrace, the water and her merging into one unified force, an echo of a life on the verge of bursting forth into the light. 

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