Fiction · 09/16/2009

Family

Someone suggested swimming and someone else said that in this weather all we need is another incident. Someone recalled that there was an expression that perfectly explained this very moment. Someone said that yes they remembered it, lightning doesn’t strike twice, and someone else said that as a matter of fact that’s happened to a friend. Someone said that no one believed this story the first time and why should they all believe it now. Someone said that they’d read an article on the Internet about this topic and someone else said that, well then of course it’s true. Someone suggested that everyone just calm down immediately. Someone began to walk away and someone reached out an arm to stop someone. Someone turned and said that they begged someone’s pardon, but could they please release their grip. Someone struggled to hold on until someone else suggested that maybe lunch should be served, which turned the subject to food, which as usual had a calming effect. Someone prepared lunch and someone else set the table. Someone opened a bottle of wine and someone else accused someone of drinking too much. Someone lifted a phone to call someone about this and someone said, could you please put the phone down, lunch is served. Someone sat near the kitchen so as to fetch items from the stove and to refill serving dishes as necessary. Someone made a comment about someone’s cooking and someone else found this indulgent, and someone else found it simply untrue. Someone said that it was raining now. Someone left the table and then the house until someone was in the yard and looking up at the rain, and the storm was large and billowing in the distance and the rain was still light above the house and in the yard as it rained on someone there. Someone pointed to the approaching storm and someone else remarked at how dark it had suddenly become. Someone said that someone had better be careful out there and someone else pointed to the clouds, now thick and black and seeming in some way to breathe if such a thing is possible, and the rain fell in enormous drops and someone started to run for cover. Someone saw a flash of lightning and someone else said that, yes we all saw it. Someone no longer appeared to be in the yard and someone remarked upon this change and someone else looked intently and rapidly at every part of the yard visible from behind the large window, which was now streaked with water. Someone else ran to the kitchen for a similar, but slightly enlarged, view of the yard. Someone sat still and hoped that someone was uninjured and someone else attempted to determine the likelihood of real life violating our most tested truths in this way, and as someone sat and considered this question someone seemed to recall that the expression someone had previously mentioned further qualified the circumstances of two lightning strikes with location. Someone said out loud that this was a variable someone had very foolishly forgotten and someone else said that that was no big surprise. Someone else said, what do mean by that? Someone said that as a family we’re always forgetting important details, and someone else said, do you mean forgetting or ignoring? Someone said to look out the window and someone else did, where they saw that someone was now lying on the grass near the house in a wet heap of someone. Someone said, did it happen? Someone said that it had and someone else said that it hadn’t, and they all gathered there before the window in the kitchen through which they had all looked so many times but never together like this, and they looked for some evidence of the event they feared most, and they looked in every direction but could not see the past because time doesn’t move in that direction, and so they looked for a long while and nobody saw anything at all.

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Jensen Beach’s fiction has appeared or soon will in Spork, Opium, Elimae, Pank and Quick Fiction, among others. He is one of the webeditors at Hobart and lives in Massachusetts with his family.