Hot Air Rising by Olivia Wolford

After the right kind of storm, we would load up and drive down to the cat streets: Lion, Puma, Ocelot Avenue. Aunt Hyacinth would buy my cousins and I cherry limeades, our orders gliding across damp cement by shaken teens on roller skates. Then the tour would commence under a dirty, marbled sky. Always, there were scatters of fallen branches and some light roof damage, maybe a car hood pocked by hail. On a special day: downed phone lines, a red wheelbarrow in a tree, the rapturous sight of something splintered by lightning crack. That kind of day could leave Aunt Hyacinth so vibrant she was glowing. We never left the car. Leo would usually fall asleep, cheek slumped to glass, by the time we hit Panther Road. Vi had inherited the hunger and would bring her face to the cracked window and inhale: sharp and green and pulsing. She knew her mother wanted to crush this chaos and bottle it, dab it on when the days got clear and slow again. Aunt Hyacinth always kept the porch light on late in summer, smoking and watching the moths sizzle while we slept. But on nights after a good storm she would gather us in her bed like kittens and let us eat spoonfuls of honey from a plastic jar. We would fall asleep together as the grainy light faded, wind still whistling death threats in our dreams.

OLIVIA WOLFORD — Olivia is a writer, anthropologist, and teacher from Dallas, Texas. Her story “Star Swallowed” (Ekphrastic Review) was selected for the Best Microfiction 2022 Anthology. She currently lives in southern Chile. 

Art by RURI KATO — Ruri is an artist and a full-time qualitative researcher based in Tokyo, Japan. She loves her cat, reading, eating, and taking walks through beautiful places. More of her art can viewed on Instagram as @rurilourdek.