Fiction: "Stormy Weather" by Nicola Ashbrook

I’m sitting on the fence at the bottom of the garden, absentmindedly munching an apple I

twisted from the tree on the way down. “Always twist, never pull,” Ma said yesterday, “that

way you know you’re getting a ripe one. If it doesn’t twist, it isn’t ready.”

Ma lived in the country when she was a kid so she knows these things, but it’s all new for

me. We used to live near Manchester before – in a flat up three flights of stairs. There was a

lift but it didn’t usually work and Ma always said it’d do me good to take the stairs save

being closed in with someone else’s piss.

I like it better here. If I sit quietly, the rabbits come out of their burrows and scamper round.

I have to remember not to swing my heels into the wood though because then they freeze

and scarper.

There are lots of birds too – not manky pigeons – but all different shapes and sizes. They all

have different sounds and I try to match them up like that card game where you find pairs.

From my perch on the fence, the fields roll away from me – right to the edge of the Earth.

Hedges and trees crisscross into the distance. That’s where the weather starts – as far away

as you can see. It’s where the sun grows from in the morning and where the clouds gang up

to make rain. It was blue over there when I sat down but it’s gone white since. It’s windy

and the clouds are puffing about like they’re rushing to the shops on benefits day. I think I

might be being hypnotised by them.

Above the clouds, the sky is changing colour – grey, greyer, a kind of dirty green-grey.

Something is going to happen. I nibble my apple like it’s popcorn.

A dark shadow lies down across the fields. It creeps closer until it lies over me too. I wonder

if I should be scared but I’m not. I just want to know what happens next.

The sky looks heavy and I hear a rumble and a creak as if it has old knees.

Suddenly there’s a bright flash and even though it’s gone, I can still see it. I tip my face up to

look for more and massive wet rain spatters onto my cheeks. It’s cold and I shriek, but I like


I jump down from the fence into one of the puddles that’s already collecting on the ground.

I hear my aunt shouting to come back in. “What would your mother say?” she asks. And I

don’t know, because even though I still hear her voice, she’s gone.

There’s another flash and a clatter as though someone dropped all their plates. The sky

starts pelting me with tiny pellets, but not the kind from guns. They sting the backs of my

calves as I run back up the path. They sting and I like it.

Nicola Ashbrook is a writer from the north-west of England. Her debut chapbook Mae in Quinquennia is forthcoming with Selcouth Station. Her work can be found in a range of other places including Bath, Reflex, Ellipsis, Truffle, Emerge and Bandit. Links can be found at and tweets @NicolaAWrites