A Ritual of Haunted Weather

By Frank Rutledge

Lightning struck the wooden lamp post outside the condo. Inside, all the electronics went black. Startled by the explosive sound and sudden darkness, Quinn searched for light. Using only his hands and his memory, he hunted down a flashlight going dim, a candle and a book of matches.

It was time again. Quinn hurried. Like a Buddhist monk preparing for detachment, he positioned himself on the living room carpet.

“Her,” he chanted.

Quinn worked his mind into a lather performing a telepathic séance, not for the dead but for the lost. She had to still be on this planet. Maybe she’d return like a lost cat from a thousand miles away, across many and far states.

Quinn’s therapist tells him, “You must first be good to yourself.” Quinn wrestles with how to explain that the self dissolves when the dream dies.
Maybe he never had a love; maybe he was always fat, out of shape and always old. Night time storms have a way of doing that, erasing borders between what is real and what is wished for.
If only he could get himself to forget. Forgetting is the real magic of disappearance. Reaching out and capturing beauty is as impossible as cradling a lightning bolt. It strikes, it is here and it is gone.
After twenty minutes, Quinn felt more sleepy than powerful. He thought with the logic of one dreaming. Quinn felt his consciousness wobble on a precipice. Instinctively, he understood there are so many more women in the world. The selfless is the true, victorious self. Love yourself.

Quinn’s body relaxed as the rain fell, a soothing background noise.

In his mind, he counted the grains of sand of a large dune in Michigan. Eventually, everything turns to sleep, sleep and troubled dreaming. If you are blessed, life becomes a dreamless, calm body of water.


Frank Rutledge is a Fox Valley author of poetry and short fiction. He is the current facilitator of the Batavia Library Writers Workshop. He helped develop and organize the three years of the “Author’s Festival” held also at the Batavia library. In April 2011, he held a poetry workshop for Poetry Month at the same library. He hosts the summer WorD-PlaY Open Mike at Grahams 318 in Geneva, Il. and performs his spoken word at various open mikes in the area. He is a member of Writers Anonymous, an improvisation writing group and the St. Charles Writers Group, belonging to both for more than ten years. His two books of poetry are available on Amazon: http://tiny.cc/clothedinaugustskin and http://tiny.cc/punchline.

About Ritta M. Basu, Editor

Ritta M. Basu is the editor of FewerThan500.com, a web journal dedicated to the literary genre of flash fiction. With a background in journalism and higher education communications, Ritta enjoys the craft of writing and the beauty of its brevity. She lives with her husband and their Akita near Chicago.
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3 Responses to A Ritual of Haunted Weather

  1. Fran says:

    Sad….made worse knowing there will be clocks to reset later.

  2. Kitty says:

    It amazes me how you keep all those images and thoughts contained before spilling them onto paper. Good Job.

  3. k white says:

    “Good”, he chanted and then could not sleep after the imagery flayed his mind.

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