Auggie hated thunderstorms.
It hadn't always been that way. He could remember plenty of afternoons spent sitting in the bay window in the dining room of the family home in Glencoe as a kid, watching with fascination as the spring thunderheads rolled in and electric spiderwebs split the sky. When he was younger the storms had hypnotized him. He loved to see the way the lightning sliced through the dark clouds and he'd always count – one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three – until the clap of thunder echoed through the air and shook the ground.
And then there had been that night, in high school, when he'd taken his girlfriend parking in a field outside town and a sudden storm had left the car sunk almost axles deep in mud. They'd spent a long night laughing over the absurdity of their situation that eventually ended in a twofer loss of virginity. He could still vividly remember the sight of her flushed face and body in the foggy backseat of his car being illuminated by the flare of a bolt of lightning from above. Later that night the receding growls of thunder had lulled them to sleep in each other's arms.
And he definitely recalled how great the sight of a storm on the horizon had been during his deployment in Iraq. There was no more welcome relief in a land of wind and sun and sand than the growing stormheads and the distant rumble of thunder. Over there, a nice thunderstorm could almost feel like salvation.
But that was all Before.
Before absolutely everything about thunderstorms reminded him of the cleverly-disguised frag-bomb thrown beneath his unit's humvee that had blown his world apart.
So when he woke up in the middle of the night, drenched in a cold sweat as a peal of thunder rattled the windowpanes, he dealt with it the only way he could; he dug into the drawer in his night table until he found the prescription bottle with the Braille sticker that read 'anti-anxiety,' popped one, and then rolled over in bed and prayed for a quick end to the storm. And the next morning at work when his best friend Annie made a comment about how tired he looked, he just grinned and made a comment about rocking the headboard and that she was welcome to join him that night if she was feeling left out.
And it took all of his restraint to keep his expression schooled when she remarked about the weather and how it looked like the storms might not be clearing up any time soon.
Because, honest to God, he really hated these thunderstorms.