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The Taste of the Storm

Jamie Lackey lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and cat. Her fiction has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and the Stoker Award-winning After Death. She's a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Her short story collection, One Revolution, is available on Amazon.com. Find her online at jamielackey.com.
Clouds gathered on the horizon, even though no wind churned the smooth face of the gray-green ocean.
Marlene scowled. "The weather witch is angry again."
"This is the third one this week," I said as lightning flickered between the clouds. I looked at the boats docked in the still water. At my father's boat, still tied where he'd left it before the stroke. "This can't go on. Sooner or later, someone's going to get hurt."
"There's no way to control or predict her. We have to take it as it comes."
It wasn't worth arguing with Marlene about, but I was done taking things as they came.
I stopped on my way home and bought flour and sugar and eggs. I kissed my father on the forehead and listened to the beeping machines that kept him alive.
When the storm hit, I opened the kitchen windows and captured the smell of the rain, the crash of the thunder, the sizzle of the lighting as it lit up the dark sky. I collected the feeling of standing in the cold, driving rain, with mud swirling around my ankles and water dripping from my hair. The rain that streamed down my cheeks tasted like despair.
I baked all night. I folded the captured storm into stiff-peaked meringues and whipped it into frosting.
I drove toward the mountains in the gray dawn. The staccato rhythm of my windshield wipers, the hiss of wet wheels on asphalt, and the smell of cookies surrounded me.
I bumped along a muddy driveway and pulled up outside of a stone cottage.
I grabbed the bags of baked goods and stomped to the weather witch's door.
Her doorknocker was cold and heavy and stiff.
"Go away!" she shouted. "I'm not buying anything!"
"I'm not selling anything, and I'm not leaving. Open up!"
The door swung open, and the weather witch glared up at me. I thrust the bags out. "I brought cookies."
After a moment, the witch waved me inside. "I'll make tea."
She rinsed a dusty, chipped cup and set it next to an unchipped mug, dropped a teabag into each, then poured hot water from a blackened kettle.
She waited till I ate a cookie, then gobbled one down. "What do you want for them?"
"No more than three storms per month. Little storms. So no one gets hurt."
"Agreed, on one condition. You'll become my apprentice."
"What?"
"There's magic in these cookies. You should learn to harness it."
I'd never dreamed of being a witch. "What can do you do, aside from make storms?"
"Lots of things."
"But it hasn't made you happy."
The witch shrugged. "Life is still life, even with magic."
I finished my tea. It tasted like loneliness. "I'll do it."
I stood on a mountaintop and pulled dark clouds to me. This time, the rain tasted like freedom.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, August 12th, 2015


This story was inspired by a photo of a storm over the ocean and my attempts to bake French macarons. The thing I like most about is is that the main character decides to try to do something impossible, and she accomplishes it with kindness. It's easy to forget just how powerful kindness can be.

- Jamie Lackey

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