LIKE THAT

In sophomore year of college, Leo had a girlfriend, the relationship short but intense. So short that they’d gotten together and went their separate ways in between two therapist’s appointments — so about three weeks, at that point. Intense enough that for the first time since his parents broke the news about their separation, it wasn’t the first thing he thought about when he opened his eyes in the morning; instead it was how much he’d like to lick her into orgasm again.

While it was going so well, he’d proposed handcuffs. She accepted, enthusiastically. And when he brought over the pair he’d picked up at the porn store off the highway, she’d hopped onto her bed and raised her hands toward the headboard. That was when he realised maybe he hadn’t been clear. Or in her eagerness she had misinterpreted him.

But she was so eager to have them put on her. So he did.

It was fun, although he was slower to get hard than he’d ever been. At first he worried he wouldn’t be able to get into it. But she was, after all, naked — beautifully so — and her excitement became contagious.

All the while, he found himself watching her face, her twisting limbs — struggling wasn’t the word, but she loved to pull on the restraints, as if testing them. Leo recognised the impulse, at least he thought he did.

When that became distracting, he closed his eyes. At first the sounds — while sinking into her wetness, pumping into her — reminded him of the porn he’d studied that last summer of high school as if cramming for a final. Mainlining videos for hours as if they’d tell him what to do, or even what he wanted. It had taken more than that; it had taken the real thing. And no, this real thing didn’t really sound like the videos. Less theatrical moaning, more panting. She pushed her hips up to him; her breasts jiggled between their bodies with their movements and her rapid breathing. Her hair was wild—she jerked her head back and forth to get it out of her face, or simply in abandon. And her face… Unlike porn, this vision went so far past ridiculous that it became sublime. He watched her sink into something vast and great, stronger than him, though he facilitated it.

The fact was, Leo liked doing what women wanted. But this time, he felt out of place — enjoying it, but in the way he would enjoy accidentally crashing someone else’s party.

And envying her.

Afterward, he’d thought about calling Aurora. Maybe writing her. To ask, Did I ever look like that, with you? But first he would have to describe the movements, the sounds, the expression, and he didn’t have the words.

***

As the dorm shook with thunder, Aurora shut her laptop down. She’d heard too much about lightning strikes frying hard drives just as you wrote your concluding paragraph.

A spear of green-white light flashed to earth outside the window. Someone farther down the hall yelled. In the upper bunk, Katie pulled the covers over her head.

Aurora went to the door but hesitated there. “I’ll be back in a bit,” she said. Not wanting Katie to feel abandoned, but not sure her presence would really help either. Maybe Katie wasn’t even disturbed by the storm; maybe she just wanted to sleep and forget the three final projects hanging over her head. Maybe she had a bottle of booze under the covers and was waiting for Aurora to leave so she could down it. If so, good for her.

Aurora didn’t exactly feel in need of booze, but something… The next peal of thunder rolled, seeming to drum up from beneath her feet. She swayed with it, then picked up her pace, hurrying to the breakroom at the corner of the building. Nobody else was around. Two walls held floor-to-ceiling windows, and she looked out at the wind-lashed trees, the sheets of rain, everything illuminated by the distant lights of the university stadium and—seemingly much closer — occasional flashes of thunderbolts.

After one, a shriek sounded behind her. Tanya and Rob, framed in the door, clung to each other as if in surprise.

“It’s all right,” Aurora said, though she probably wasn’t heard over the storm. Just as well. She would have sounded annoyed, and they didn’t deserve that. Rob already seemed skittish around her, which was a shame because he’d proven to be the one guy in Economies of Developed Nations who could be trusted to approach group work with minimal competence. But he’d asked her out the third week of classes and was turned down as much in surprise as anything. She’d picked up Jules about a week after that, dropped him soon after, and then Rob had turned up with Tanya. Either things really did move a lot faster here than the dating slow lane in high school — her time with Leo — had prepared her for, or else they were making lots of knee-jerk decisions. Which is what college was for, she gathered.

Right now, her knee-jerk decision was to sit alone at the window and watch the storm.

What was there to be scared of?  The clock tower across the quad had a lightning rod, and the thunder wouldn’t really shake every building down to its foundations, however much it felt that way.

But it did feel that way. And the feeling was oddly intriguing.

The sky turned a different colour, black paling to gilt-edged green. When she was nine years old a sight like that would send her running for cover. And this could be a supercell thunderstorm, breeding ground for tornadoes, for all she knew. It seemed eerie, unseasonal. Did they have tornadoes before Easter? Well, even if they didn’t before, maybe they did now. Thanks, climate change.

But this wasn’t home; she found she didn’t particularly care how much of the campus blew away. Even if she went with it.

Wind crashed against the corners of the building. She tracked its motion, followed the churning clouds, watching for a funnel.

She’d stay until she spotted one. Until the alarm went off. While the alarm went off, it if did: the howling siren and surging storm and her sitting cross-legged in the middle of it.

The prickling sensation of hair standing on end climbed from her neck to the crown of her head. It was more noticeable now with this short haircut. It was like nothing she’d ever felt before. It was great.

Aurora’s body vibrated. The bright glow of lightning kissed her face through the window glass. Thunder cracked like a whip on the back. The air itself became a vast, powerful body that embraced the trees and buildings with rough passion, a loving overthrow. She wasn’t scared. Just overcome. An adrenaline rush, a feeling of worship, the only appropriate response. The green-lit waves of cloud let her look upon their faces, and surrounded by such power, unleashed beyond any control, something like adoration rose in her throat.

She wondered if this was anything like what Leo had felt.

 

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