Tea Leaves and Purple Robes

Storms, Blackout, and Cities in Dust

Match Twenty-Eight: Storms, Blackout, and Cities in Dust:


I have always hated thunderstorms as a child. It didn’t help that my father was almost never around. Not that it would’ve if he was around. He wasn’t exactly a tender man to begin with. He would’ve told me to suck it up. Yeah, it was that bad.

“Ju?” I heard in front of me. I looked up to see Yao’s face really close to mine.

“Gah!” I shouted. “How long have you been standing there?” Yao chuckled.

“Not long,” he said. “Are you okay?” I shook my head. The thunder rumbled in the background. I pulled my knees closer to my chest. I started to tremble. Yao put his hand on my knee. Our baby cried down the hall.

“Are you going to get him?” I asked.

“You sure you want me to?” he asked. I shook my head. Another roar of thunder ran through the sky. I guess Jing’s scared of storms too. I didn’t blame the kid.

“Do you want to come with me?” Yao asked. I jerked my head upwards.

“Huh?” I asked.

“Do you want to come and check on Jing with me?” he asked. It took a moment for the question to sink in.

“Uh, yeah, yeah,” I said. My husband had to pull me to my feet. Lighting and thunder crashed outside. I winced and shut my eyes. Yao kind of tugged me along.

I always hated walking down the hall during a storm. Somehow, it didn’t help that I couldn’t see outside. Even the weatherman hadn’t seen a storm like this in ages. I overheard Yao talking about something not being right with the weather over the phone.

“Hey, baby,” I spoke up. Yao looked over his shoulder.

“Hm?” he asked.

“What were you talking about earlier on the phone?” I asked. The words came out choked up in my throat. Was my voice trembling? Thunder rumbled after my question.

“Nothing much,” he said. “Just about how bad the storm is.” More thunder boomed outside.

“Enough already!” I shouted. “Why does it have to be so loud?”

“Thunder isn’t loud all the time,” Yao said.

“That’s not helping!” I yelled with my eyes shut. Our son’s crying didn’t help either. We made it to Jing’s room. He lay in his crib wailing.

“Don’t worry, baby,” I said. “We’re here.” I walked over and picked him up.

“Shhh, shhh, shhh,” I said as I bounced him up and down in my arms. “We’re here now. It’s okay. Shhh. Shhh.” I tried to ignore the thunder outside. I will not let my baby see me scared. The rain got harder as I heard someone chuckling beside me. Yao smiled next to me.

“What?” I whispered. He smiled and shrugged at me.

“You don’t seem so scared anymore,” he said. I shook my head.

“It’s because of my son,” I said. A little smile came across my face. But that ended up being short-lived when the lights went out. What the…?

“Oh,” Yao said. My back started to tense up. Could this night get any worse? The thunder grew louder. I screamed as a big boom came with a huge flash of lighting. Jing cried in my arms. Before I knew it, Yao pulled me into his arms. I lifted my head.

“Yao?” I asked.

“Shhh,” he whispered. Jing cried against my chest.

“Are you trembling?” he asked. I looked down at our baby. His crying faded into the thunder outside.

This isn’t a normal storm. Something doesn’t feel right. Yao and I sat on the nursery floor. This time, he held our son.

“I don’t like this,” I said to myself.

“I know,” Yao said. I looked up at him. What was he talking about? I put my arms around him. Jing had calmed down for the moment. He’s doing better with this storm than I am. I envy him in way.

“You okay?” Yao asked. I shook my head.

“It’s okay,” he whispered. “It’s going to pass in the morning.” I wished that I could believe him.

“How can you be so sure?” I asked. Yao turned his head.

“What do you mean?” he asked. I shook my head.

“Ju,” he said.

“Aren’t you worried?” I asked. “Someone keeps stalking us. What do they want with our son? I’d rather die than to let them have them!”

“I know,” Yao said. “I know.” I balled up fists in my lap.

“Do you?” I asked. His eyes stayed focused on me.

“We’ve been looking into these women,” he said. I froze as another round thunder rolled through the air. This time, it wasn’t so loud. He had a serious look on his face.

“We have solid leads,” my dear husband said. I didn’t know what to say. I finally bowed my head.

“Thank you,” I whispered. The thunder outside didn’t sound so bad when I’m with my boys.

Oh. There’s something that I have to mention before I forget.

I am having weird dreams again. Yes, yes. I know you’ve heard it before. But it’s different. Last night’s dream shook me. Usually, I would just keep my dreams to myself and move on. But this time, I couldn’t keep it to myself. I lifted my head.

“Hey, Yao,” I said. Again, my voice sounded like it was trembling.

“What?” he asked. I took a deep breath before I could gather up what I wanted to say in my head.

“I’m having dreams again,” I said. I drew my knees to my chest.

“What is it now?” Yao asked.

“Cities laying in ruin,” I said without thinking. “There were no people around. Nature had reclaimed the land. But it didn’t look right. Everything was black and rotting. I could see toxic spurs floating up to the sky. All of the trees looked so dead and black. The world kept dying around me.”

“Ju…” he said. I shook my head.

“But last night was really weird,” I said. “I was floating in front of what used to be our house. No one was there but there was a deer standing on the top step. Only…”

“The deer looked like it was decaying, wasn’t it?” Yao asked. I looked up at him, wide-eyed.

“How… How did you know?” I asked. “Wait… Are you…?” My husband looked so nervous at first. I waited for his answer. Yao lowered his eyes.

“Yes,” he said. The color drained from my face.

“No…” I said, covering my mouth. Thunder boomed in the background.

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