A crack of thunder jolted Sarah from a dream as lightning flared, casting shadows on the bedroom walls. She blinked. A fleeting thought: secure the unfurled patio umbrella and outdoor cushions, or the storm would ruin morning brunch with her parents. Beside her, Nick snored. She slipped out of bed and left the bedroom. After living with her family in the two-story colonial for over twenty years, she navigated by the storm’s light with confidence.
She descended the stairs, her bare feet sure-footed on the carpeted steps, her hand gliding lightly on the staircase rail, smooth from years of Murphy’s Oil Soap buffing. Rain pelted on the roof while the wind howled through a downstairs open window. Quickening her pace, a series of lightning bursts illuminated a view of the kitchen below.
At the counter, a side view of Powell, her nineteen-year-old son, naked. When was the last time she had seen him naked? He stood hunched behind a nude woman, her bent torso sprawled face-down on the kitchen island, his flesh pressed against hers, his large, bony hands gripping her hips. The freckled pallor of his skin contrasted against Serita’s complexion as he banged her from behind, his face contorted, eyes closed.
Long dark hair cascaded across pale granite swallowing Serita’s face. She panted the softest of moans. Waifish arms extended beyond her locks. Serita’s fingers gripped the opposite edge of the counter. Silver nail polish shimmered. Was metallic in fashion?
Powell uttered a low cry, squeezed a final release as his eyelids fluttered. A tympani drum of thunder rolled. Sarah’s hand broke from the railing to cover her mouth. She stopped herself from gasping, but she was unable to stop the downward, automatic motion of her feet, and when her eyes connected with her son’s, she stumbled, tumbling down the last steps.
Julia Poole is a writer and former speech-language therapist who worked with a variety of patients, including incarcerated youth. Her writing has appeared in The Sheepshead Review, Hypertext Magazine, and Dunes Review, among other publications. She’s received a Pushcart Prize nomination. A Midwesterner at heart, she has lived on both coasts but prefers the wooded tranquility of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.