There were fires burning all around us.

The cars were dusted with ash.

On Sunday the ash got so thick that it looked like fog. It smells of smoke.

The sun shines with bronze light, looks like a red hole in a dead sky. Grey sky, not sky grey, but uniform grey. Dead raccoon on the side of the road grey. Dull hospital plastic grey.

I go out into the garden to pick lettuce, and I have to wash off the ash along with the specks of dirt. The screens have picked up flecks of grey, like the spiderwebs that crowd the bushes. I feel as though I am in the Final Empire, or the End Times.

I cough often. My throat is dry and irritated.

It is hot. Partly from the smoke and ash. Partly because we are having a heatwave, the record, for this time of year, for quite some time. It is a thick heat. It seems to leak out of the air, and only the western breeze can clear it away.

Monday morning I wake up, and the sky is almost normal. It looks like a sunrise, only it is two hours past time, and the sun is high in the sky.

That evening, after dark, the cat starts yowling like she’s caught something, or like she’s out of food.

“Cat!” Loral says, and gets up to go check. We are all sitting around the table, gaming. Then, “Oh, I see the problem.” She shuts the back door, and she and the cat walk back into the living room. “Is boba upset because it is raining?”

“Raining?” I run to the door and open it. The smell hits me before the chill does. That thick, chocking smell of new-fallen rain. I pound down the steps and onto the broad sidewalk in front of our house. “Raining!” I spread my hands, and look to the sky.

A few drops hit me.

The cat is looking at me like I’m insane.

Later, it starts to pour.

There is a thunderstorm.

I imagine the water, grey with ash, filling the gutters and wiping the world clean.

The next day dawns cool and grey, but a living, sweet grey. The grey of mist, and clouds full of water.

2 thoughts on “Ash

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