Bethany Beach, Delaware, July 21, 2013

★★ The blue matting led through the dunes and into a white eastern glare that hit the face like talcum powder blown by a hair dryer. The storms that were supposed to have broken the heat wave had failed to appear on the drive down, and now were a day overdue. As the sun got higher, it was easier to bear; the glass-blue water left cool air in the zone where it foamed. Sometime in the sunny afternoon, a brief shower splashed on the skylight. By the time the children could be changed into swimwear and convinced to go out, thunder was rumbling and the lifeguards were ambling up onto the matting, the newly emptied beach stretching out behind them. A scalloped rim of bright white separated the hazy slate blue sky from the slate blue of the storms. Finger-sized drops dotted the boardwalk. The toddler, uninterested in omens, did not want to be pried out of the toy store, and howled all the way through the race back to the rental house. Shafts of sun came sideways, shooting antipersonnel heat rays through the rain. Out the window, for a moment, someone saw something sinister hanging down from the churning clouds. The partial-sea-view condo assumed a new set of salient features: creaky frame construction; nothing resembling a basement, only a half-bath under the stairs for an interior room. But the clouds flattened back up where clouds should go, and all that touched down was rain. Under the edge of the front porch roof, one pair of flip-flops sat dry, while the pair beside them held little puddles. In the dark, dull residual lightning flashed, somewhere off beyond the dumpsters.