It had been the hottest June ever, and this week had been even hotter than that. A stifling mass of humid air hanging over the region, defying movement and locking out the wind. Pollution from Detroit, Chicago and Toronto had turned the once blue sky into a brown color that was almost green.
We sat in our sweltering classes, trying to concentrate. Even Sister Corvi was losing her focus in the heat. It was too hot to laugh, or cry, or even move. Everything stood still, waiting.
We knew it was coming. We stood outside at recess in the shadows of the school and the trees, trying to escape the heat; but there was no reprieve. In the west, we could see the line of clouds – storms building like armies on the horizon.
I watched Jay, crazy with the heat, terrorize the playground. His eyes were strange – not on fire, but almost blank, as if there were nothing left holding him back. I saw him kick a little girl in the back, sending her sprawling to the ground. Blood dripped from her nose.
And like the building weather, I felt something build inside me, a cold wave pushing through the heat. I saw myself from the outside, saw myself get up, and saw that same blank look in my eyes. I watched myself stride across the dusty playground towards the girl and her tormentor.
I heard myself call his name, and I saw him turn around. We stared at each other, our blank gazes locked. In our eyes there was a clear understanding. An understanding that this was the last stand, that one or both of us wouldn’t walk away. That it would end, one way or another.
With an enviable sense of timing, the storm broke. The darkening sky flashed with electricity, thunder pealed across the playground and drops of rain the size of tennis balls pattered across the pavement. In seconds the stifling heat was swept away by the tempest, and still Jay and I stared at each other.
The rain gave way to hail that fell out of a sky as dark as night. White ice skittered across the playground, empty now except for Jay and I. Even through the sting of ice pellets, we stayed and looked at each other. From the corner of my eye, I could see teachers with panicked faces running out to stop the confrontation before it began in earnest.
And then, against all reason, frogs fell from the sky. Hundreds – thousands of frogs, replacing the hiss of hail with a chorus of sickly wet thuds. Whatever dark magic had held us to each other in the storm evaporated, and Jay and I found ourselves smaller, less lost.
And then suddenly Jay was gone, and I was left standing alone in a rain of frogs.