New York City, June 19, 2017

★★★★ A thin puddle lay right inside the door of the 1 train, from the air conditioner drip. A building and a cloud had kept the sun off the edge of the schoolyard during the morning wait, but now nothing was stopping it. The light felt as if it were stretching out the skin when it hit. The sunny side of the street was only a last resort. Somehow a passerby was wearing a full suit, a blue that was headed toward royal, throwing back some of the glow. New asphalt squished underfoot. A little cloud was rounded on one side and trailed tendrils from the other, like a drifting jellyfish. In a matter of minutes, dark clouds in the far west became layers of darkness in the near west became darkness spreading overhead. Interior lights brightened to an evening coziness by contrast, and then the sidewalks were wet and umbrellas were out. Thunder sounded and kept sounding, in one improbably drawn-out boom and then, after a pause, another. Briefly things brightened and then the thunder came again. Shredded garbage flew up and down outside the third-floor window. The rain came in thick billows, with big shimmering silver drops moving retrograde to the main gusts. For some reason the people out in it still held onto their umbrellas, even as the drenching water came at them sideways. This new cloudburst subsided exactly when it needed to for the walk to the homeward train. It was raining along the way but not enough to even react to. It was raining harder inside the station, where the earlier excess still flowed down through the ceiling. Up in the apartment and clear of it all, the plain gloomy oncoming evening suddenly flared yellow, a huge shapeless light pushing through the blinds and glittering furiously in the fat drops still on the window. “OK, that’s legitimately scary,” the ten-year-old said. “It looks like it’s totally going to burn my hand off,” the five-year-old said. Down low under the wash of light, over New Jersey, a lumpy line of clouds stood brownish and grayish pink. Nearer were first silvery shreds and then dark ones. The doorbell rang. Amid delays and confusion in Newark, the plane to Mexico City had somehow left with an empty seat. There would be another one in the morning.