How to Hug a Lightning Bolt (flash fiction)

Here’s a flash fiction piece I wrote awhile back. I thought you all, in the throws of Intentional Parenting, might like a little something lighter…and sweet.

Aubrey twisted around on the couch, tucked her feet under her legs, and stared out the window at the rain. She sighed deeply, in the way she imagined characters in books sighing.

The couch bounced an inch closer to the window before Aubrey finished her next breath. It was Zadie, plopping down with a sigh of her own. Aubrey kept her eyes trained out the window. Mom and Dad were right to choose opposite ends of the alphabet for our names, Aubrey thought. We are as different as A is from Z.  Even our sighs are different.

Aubrey had raced the weather forecast all morning. She had marked off all her chores and finished her weekend homework early just to have this quiet moment before the rain stopped. Zadie had yet to start her chores or her homework.

“I hate cleaning my room. Why does Mom make us do that?” Zadie didn’t wait for Aubrey to answer before she launched another question. “What are you going to do for your science fair project? Mine’s gonna be about Pluto. I really think it ought to still be a planet. Don’t you? It’s not fair to just take away a planet from all of us when we’re used to counting it. I feel sorry for Pluto, so far out there. Do you think it’s lonely? If I was on Pluto, I would be lonely. Unless my five best friends came with me. Oh, but how would I choose just five? Which five should I choose, Aubrey? Do you think Kylie would be a good friend to take to Pluto with me?”

Aubrey sighed again, never looking away from the calm, consistent rain outside. The sigh drew Zadie’s attention. “What are you looking at? There’s nothing there. Rain is boring! I wish it was sunny and warm so we could go outside and play. Don’t you wish it was sunny, Aubrey? Don’t you want to go play?”

“No.” Aubrey tried to say it quietly, tried not to hurt Zadie’s feelings again. Mom always reminded her to be patient with Zadie, to try to embrace Zadie’s energy. But how do you hug a lightning bolt?

The corners of Zadie’s mouth quivered a little and she blinked three times. “Do you really like rainy weather better?” She waited for an answer this time.

Surprised by the silence, Aubrey looked at Zadie then leaned over and wrapped her arms around her. “I do, Zadie. Something about the rain helps me think, and I’m trying to finish the story in my head.”

Zadie pulled away. “Ooh, what’s it about?” Her eyes widened as she looked up at Aubrey.

That hug lasted the usual two seconds, Aubrey laughed to herself. Aloud she said, “You wouldn’t like it. A girl likes a boy but she’s too shy to tell him.”

“Are there any swords? Or battles? Does the boy ride off to fight without telling the girl, and then does he become the biggest hero of the whole war and come home to a big party? Is it that kind of story? Because that would be a good story. Oh! Oh! Does the girl go off to fight? That would be an even better story! Maybe I should write a story, too. Mine would have lots of fight scenes and at least one night where everyone stares up at the stars and talks about Pluto!”

Aubrey smiled. Zadie’s brainstorming resembled the lightning of an actual storm. “Well, maybe my characters could look up at the stars and talk. Eventually…after he notices she exists.” Aubrey’s shoulders fell, and she turned her gaze back to the rain outside.

Zadie sprung to her feet, hands on hips. “That is not a very exciting story, Auby.” She stomped away, calling out to Mom about the vacuum cleaner.

Aubrey checked her phone: no message, no DM, not even a “like” on her super-cute selfie from yesterday. Surely, he had seen it! She starred out the window and slid her phone under her thigh. Her story wasn’t going the way she’d planned.

Zadie’s second plop wasn’t as couch-moving but her sigh was just as expressive. “My room’s too big of a mess to clean right now. Will you tell me your story instead? But if it doesn’t have fighting, can it at least have swords or bows-and-arrows or horses or something interesting?”

“Can I stare out the window while I tell it?”

“Sure! And I’ll try not to interrupt. Really, I will.”

Aubrey took a deep breath. “It starts like this: One day, a steady rain soaked the ground.” Zadie groaned at the mention of rain, but she didn’t speak.

As Aubrey described the second scene, she wrapped her arms around her little sister. “The boy and girl found their horses—Lightning and Stormy—near the barn. They strapped their swords to their saddles and rode off toward the mountains.” Aubrey’s phone buzzed under her leg, but she continued the story. Her own happy ending could wait a little while, just for Zadie.

How to Hug a Lightning Bolt, a modern flash fiction story about two sisters, from #IntentionalParenting, via @Carole_Sparks. (click to tweet)

What do you think about this story? Does it remind you of your own childhood? Which one were you, Aubrey or Zadie? Are your children like this? I would love to hear your response in the comments below!

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