“I want to be struck by lightning.”
Jane turned her head and watched the rain droplets slowly accumulate into tiny beads of water on the side of the sedan parked in the empty lot in front of the grocery store. Occasionally the beads would grow bold enough to ignore the steady drizzle of their origin and make their way downwards at an erratic pace – stopping, going, stopping, going – until they’d reach the bottom of the car, linger for just a moment, and then take their final plunge onto the pavement. Jane could only imagine that plunge, because the little beads would escape her sight the moment they crept below the window. She had just begun to pick her favorite droplets and make racing bets in her head when she noticed her boyfriend asking her something.
“What do you mean?”
“What do you mean you want to be struck by lightning?”
“I think it’s fairly straightforward.”
When she turned to look at him, she immediately regretted her answer as she saw Ray’s eyes flicker with that look of concern mixed with just a dash of annoyance. There was something about his face that always made her think that he was patronizing her.
“I mean, I want to be struck by lightning and live.”
“Okay…and why’s that?”
“I don’t know, I think it’d be cool. I’d be ‘the girl who got struck by lightning and lived’, you know? It’d also just give me this whole new license to live. Like, I’d be this person who single-handedly took on the world and made it.”
“Wow that does sound pretty badass. How do you plan on making that happen?”
How. How could Ray not see that not every destination needed to be mapped out? Whenever she’d tell him about her dreams, he’d start to plan out a guide to make it happen. Then he would get excited and bring it up on a routine basis – she’d feel her passion diffused into his being and this intangible loss of identity as her individual ideas would become part of a shared effort. She knew that he was being supportive and that without him she’d probably never do anything. Already, she had tried all these different experiences and she loved him for it. But still, sometimes she just wanted to dream.
Jane had turned back around to look out the passenger window. The weather outside seemed to mimic her mind; her swirling thoughts manifested themselves into dark storm clouds, the wind picked up and the abandoned refuse (napkins, papers, and plastic bags) began to dance around the parking lot. She looked back at the droplets on the window – each bead had begun to dash towards the rear of the sedan in diagonal lines. While capturing her surroundings she thought about what she wanted to do – her motives and drives felt so much different than when she’d first decided to take this summer road-trip with Ray. Finally, she made up her mind.
“Hey Ray, let’s go to the beach.”
“Now? I think I just saw lightning, and the clouds are starting to get real—“
Ray paused and looked at Jane’s determined, almost manic, face. There was a glint in the big, brown eyes of this quiet girl from History class. He’d seen the look only once before, and knew that it spoke of reckless abandon, adventure, confidence, and everything he’d first fallen in love with. Ever since that moment, he’d tried to reignite that passion by being as supportive and energetic as he could be, to no avail. Now though, for whatever reason, without warning, this girl was back.
He smiled, “It’ll take 15 minutes to get there, you ready?” Jane faced forward and nodded. Ray thought he caught the slightest smile tugging at her lips.