It’s 2 o’clock in the morning. I am lying in front of the 7-Eleven and my ear is on the pavement. I hear thunder in the distance but it is not the storm that I am seeking in the earth.
There is a light rain falling from the sky. I close my eyes and let the drops run down my face. I swear to god I heard a voice just now and I am trying to make myself as quiet as I can be. I am stilling my heart and praying for my blood to stop. I want my pulse to cease running in my ears. I heard a voice over a thousand miles and I am trying again to hear it now.
The rain feels good in the July heat but I know that when the thunder comes near it will be with the heavy black clouds they predicted on the forecast. And then I might never hear the voice again.
It is late out, so late that no one has noticed me yet. So late that the 7-Eleven’s sign is not lit. So late that the dogs have stopped barking. Ghosts are walking the streets with a cool and calm aloofness. Everything that is in me is gathered in the earth. I am poised like a diver, focussed on a point just before me, in the air above the heaving water where I descend to make my livelihood in a small village in Korea.
The thunder is nearer now and I know that at any moment the sky will erupt. I can feel the crack of lightning striking some target nearby. A billboard, a hydro pole, some eave or antenna. The hairs stand at attention on my neck, my arms, my calves. When the rain comes I will raise my body and walk calmly underneath the overhang of the 7-Eleven where I will wait out the storm. By the sounds of it, it will be well into morning when the storm is finished and I will have to go to work. If there is no time to change I will go there in the clothes I am wearing now. I will not explain why I appear so dishevelled. Why I have not changed or washed. What has altered in me and what I have seen. A few will think that I must have slept with someone the night before. My friends will whisper into my ear as I stand gathering my strength in the breakroom with a cup of coffee in my hand.
“Alison,” they will say, discreetly, “are you okay?” or “good for you.”
I will not feel dishonest as I nod blankly in affirmation. They could not hope to understand. Soon I must go anyhow. I could not abide any place that was not here or in the distance I am waiting over.
But the rain has not yet come and it is not yet morning. And I have not heard again the voice I thought I heard coming to me over one thousand miles, the voice that was once to me so familiar.
I am still waiting with my ear on the pavement and a chill in the air.