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Thunder – Emily Murtagh

Thunder. Crash of new shoes on old floors. Crash of good men on good floors, ping of braces on sweat chests, hair slicked, collision of new energy and old whiskey. Thunder. AC/DC. Fists in air, crash and spin. He loves these men, his uncles, his brother. The groom was, is, his favourite cousin. It had been too long, they always leave it too long. They used to spend full summers together, driving the tractor before they were legal. Drinking bottles in the hayshed after funerals, before they were legal. The bride, fresh from a lap of the dancefloor on the shoulders of her brothers, has found her groom, who picks her up and kisses her. She seems to have barely touched the floor all night. Her dress catches in light, like moth wings near candles. They are so happy and he loves it, in an honest way, that bypasses the wedge of loneliness, whiskey and wedding cake that surges in his gut.

 He reaches out his hand, fascinated by the new shapes it seems to be making, in the direction of a girl in a green dress, tight, with blonde hair, dyed. He is Frank Sinatra and Fred Astaire’s love child. The bride’s school friend spins politely out of range of lips and sweat. He snagged two bottles of red wine, almost full, from two of the drier tables at dinner and is comforted by their presence, within reach, behind the speaker.

 The DJ grants all present permission to take their tie and wrap it around their head as the opening notes of Thunder fill them. He is ahead of that curve having re-appropriated his tie hours ago. He takes it now, and in one movement of beauty and grace, swings it, and lets it fly. Tie lands just on target, hanging from the chandelier. The crowd love it, they whoop and clap. He hears something like “don’t encourage him”, but it melts into the sound of


Thunder. Clap and bang, dress shoes on oak floors. Thunder.

He’s on his knees. His shirt buttons have betrayed him, revealing red chest, not as strong as it used to be. Screaming, crying maybe? He love, love, loves this song. His sister’s voice is somewhere in his consciousness, circulating but not quite hitting the right neurons. Asking, then begging him to come outside, until he feels the arms of two strong uncles, at his side, hoisting him from the floor, until he is off his feet. He is flying but it doesn’t feel as good as it should. He protests. There is so much dance still left. Thunder. He flails, grabs his tie to anchor himself. He is an act of physics defied. All is glass, and smash, of cool glass on oak floors. He sees himself for just a moment in a shard. The air is cold cold cold. Hairs on sweat arms stand on end. He can’t see, not really, then all is black and colder. Thunder.

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