Myna Chang ~ The Potential of Radio and Rain

June 21, 1984
Deaf Smith County, Texas

I.

Moonshot Rodriguez used to mash up light­ning bugs and smear them on his front teeth. His grand­pa had named him, and told him the grave­yard was haunt­ed with the light of spe­cial lives. Moonshot believed him. He want­ed to shine.

II.

On her 17th birth­day, Gracie Lynn Johnson stole her step­dad’s truck: free­dom in the form of a twelve-year-old step­side Chevy, red, stick shift, with an emp­ty gun rack and an AM radio. Pulse thun­der­ing, she stepped on the gas.

III.

It was one of those close, rare sum­mer nights when radio waves bounced from the WLS stu­dio in Chicago across the con­ti­nent and the mesquite and the grit, through lay­ers of atmos­phere mirac­u­lous­ly wind­less and damp with pos­si­bil­i­ty, alight­ing the Caprock like a secret love. Gracie Lynn adjust­ed the knob. John Cougar cut through the sta­t­ic, singing about Jack & Diane, bass set­ting the brit­tle speak­ers to a trem­ble.

Moonshot was parked out­side the Church of Christ, in the gray Pontiac that once belonged to his grand­pa. He crum­pled a beer can, wait­ing.

Gracie Lynn rolled up in a swirl of caliche dust. “Shut up and get in,” she said.

Moonshot did­n’t have to be told twice. He grabbed a cou­ple of cold ones out of his cool­er.

Graveyard night,” he said.

They passed the hard­ware store and the din­er, and then Gracie Lynn shift­ed into third, leav­ing town behind. Two min­utes lat­er, they topped Coyote Ridge and turned on the dirt track that led to the ceme­tery. The air tast­ed like sage and, maybe, rain. Lightning bug flick­ers lit the pol­ished tomb­stones ahead, and it was mag­ic, that quick sparkle of life under a starshine sky.

This is almost good enough,” Gracie Lynn breathed.

A light­ning bug flut­tered through the open win­dow, its glow fad­ing. Moonshot cupped it in his hand and steered it back into the charged night and the AM waves.

~

Myna Chang writes flash and short sto­ries. Her work has been fea­tured or is forth­com­ing in X‑R-A‑Y Lit Mag, Reflex Fiction, FlashFlood, Atlas & Alice, Writers Resist, and Daily Science Fiction. Anthologies fea­tur­ing her sto­ries include the Grace & Gravity col­lec­tion Furious Gravity IX; and the forth­com­ing This is What America Looks Like anthol­o­gy by Washington Writers’ Publishing House. Read more at MynaChang.com or on Twitter at @MynaChang.