Am I supposed to fill the bathtub before the storm? Dad would know the answer, but I don’t want to ask. He’s already in my head, contradicting himself, reminding me that water attracts lightning, that I’ll need something besides my stockpile of Zephyrhills if I lose running water, something to fill a pot with and boil on the grill, waiting for it to cool before drinking it. “By the way,” Dad adds, “did you remember to pick up propane for the grill?” I did not remember to pick up propane for the grill. By now, the hardware store, along with the rest of town, is closed. Boarded up. The wind is shucking the palm trunks. So I compromise. I fill the tub and vow to drain it the moment I see lightning flash through the slats in the blinds. But the lightning never shows. The storm drifts. I sleep. I wake. I go to the bathroom, where the unfamiliar sight of all that still water startles me. The whole upstairs is humid from it, the air thick like an eyewall. I stick a toe in the tub. The water is freezing. In my head, my dad clears his throat again. “Waste not, want not,” he says. My first idea is to force myself to sit in it. Wouldn’t that be a good exercise in tolerance? Better question: why does my first thought always involve punishing myself? I don’t have to ease myself into the cold. I don’t have to shiver. I pull the stopper and let the water drain.I waste it all and want so much.
Hurley Winkler‘s writing has appeared in Hobart, The Millions, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, and Neutral Spaces. She’s an alum of Mors Tua Vita Mea, Lit Camp, Atlantic Center for the Arts, and Lesley University’s MFA in Creative Writing program. Hurley lives in Northeast Florida, where she was born and raised and has now withstood many hurricanes. She writes a newsletter for fellow writers, which you can subscribe to for free: lonelyvictories.substack.com.
image: MM Kaufman