In Estremoz, the storm blew up from a few clouds in the afternoon sky. Every day before, my new husband and I had stumbled in the heat from church to church, searching out the relief of indoor marble, of cool and quiet stone.
You can record joy in the body and replay it later.
Our first trip together in a country with a new language seemed the perfect metaphor for a young marriage, even though we'd been together several years already and knew each other's tender spots. We had one spectacular fight in coastal Tavira—I don't even remember what about. Maybe you can't really know someone until you've traveled in July without air conditioning.
The summer we married was the summer fires burned all over Portugal. The heat wave spread across Europe: drought, crop shortages, elderly dying in their beds. After the storm in Estremoz, we felt the dry earth's temporary relief. The streets were made of marble cobblestone, slick now from the rain. We walked along them in a hopeful daze.
Every morning, women swept and mopped their slim marble doorsteps, a chore and enchantment both. After the storm, the whole city seemed to glow—beautiful, glaringly white like its own full moon.
SARA SCHAFF's story collection, Say Something Nice About Me (Augury Books), was a 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Award Finalist for short fiction and a CLMP Firecracker Award Finalist in fiction. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Michigan Quarterly Review, Hobart, Joyland, Literary Hub, Southern Humanities Review, and elsewhere. She teaches creative writing at St. Lawrence University. Find links to her work at saraschaff.com.