"Oops, I think it's starting to rain. I guess the party's over. And it was such a nice December day too." The guests groaned and declared how unusual it was to have a 60 degree day on Christmas Eve. But, nevertheless, the guests cleaned up the yard in record time. Even the old volleyball net was packed up and re-stored in the shed. They returned to the house to gather their belongings and left through the front door.

Now that the guests were gone, I went to my room as I usually would and turned on my computer. But no sooner had I hit the button when a bright flash of light lit up the room followed by a loud clap of thunder. I quickly hit the computer's power button again. "Don't need my hard drive going…" I muttered to myself.

I was interrupted by another flash of lightning and an instant reply from the thunder. I heard another loud crash. It was the telephone pole across the street. It had been leaning over the street from the last storm and no one ever came to fix it. It must have finally fallen over. A couple seconds later, the lights over my head flicked a few times then went out.

Now a lot of people don't like power outages. But not me. I love 'em. I like to pull up a chair and watch the lightning and rain outside through the glass front door. So that's what I did. I grabbed a chair from the kitchen and set it up at the bottom of the stairs. I opened the storm door and sat down.

It was a couple minutes before another flash of lightning came around. But when the lightning lit up the front steps, I wasn't looking at the lightning. I was more interested in the familiar figure on the bottom step in front of the house. I jumped up off the chair and turned on the outside light so I could see who it was.

The figure noticed the light and turned to face me. It was Aoi. I threw the glass door open and started yelling at her.

"What the hell are you doing? It below zero in a thunderstorm and you're sitting outside?" She said nothing. She just stood up and started walking away. Then, as the lightning flashed again, she started running. I bolted out the door after her and caught her at the end of the neighbor's driveway. I grabbed her by the arm and she stopped but didn't turn to face me.

"I'm sorry. I wasn't mad at you. It's just that you shouldn't be out in this weather."

She turned to answer but couldn't find words right away. I couldn't tell if the water running down her cheek was rain or tears. Finally, she opened her mouth to speak.

"I-I-I just d-didn't have a-a r-ride. I-I was just g-going t-t-to wait until t-they came."

"Well, you should have told me. C'mon, let's go in before you catch a cold." I put my arm around her waist and guided her back inside. Now I could see her face clearly. The water on her face was tears. I must have scared her more than I thought.

I brought her inside and sat her down on the couch. She still had her head down. I grabbed a towel and threw it to her from the door of the bathroom.

"Here, I'm turning on the shower. Get yourself warmed up. I'll be out here in the living room." It was now that I noticed the lights had come back on. It was certainly a good thing. It would be weird for her to have to take a shower in my bathroom in the dark.

Just as I had sat down to turn on the tv, another clap of thunder seemed to shake the house. The lights went out again and I heard Aoi scream in the bathroom. I jumped up and ran to the door of the bathroom and opened it just a crack so she could hear me.

"Aoi? You OK?"

There was no reply but I could hear her crying.

"Aoi? I need you to answer me. At least tell me you have clothes on?"

A soft "yeah" came from the room and I threw the door open the rest of the way. She was there on the floor, crying harder than before. I knelt down next to her.

"Aoi, what's wrong? This isn't about me yelling at you is it? Please tell me, I want to help."

She looked up at me, tears rolling down her face. It was just light enough to see that she had opened her mouth to say something but there was another loud crack of thunder. She shuddered and buried her head in her hands again.

I wrapped my arms around her and held her tight. "It's okay. We're safe in here. I've got you." I immediately felt her stop shaking. We held the embrace for I don't know how long. I just held on and listened to the ticking of the clock in the living room. Finally, she lifted her head and I let go of her. Another crack of thunder caused her to jump, so I put my hand on her shoulder. She was still calm.