There were a thousand other places Liam might have ended up, an unbroken strand of moments each distinguishable from the next by just the slightest shift of light.

He wasn’t due at work for several days, and the weather was capricious, streaking almost black across the sky in places over the city. So by all accounts he should have stayed indoors to paint his art.

But Liam thought that underneath the vacant patches of sky the funneled light would frame a perfect landscape. And watching from the single window of his flat, he tracked the thunderclouds that growled tempestuously in the distance, unfolding and dissolving of their own feral indignation. Liam thought he found the pattern in their rage.

He left at 4 o’clock, just as a shot of lightning turned his redbrick building purple. Liam heard it lick the air, and watched the echo of its flash run through the trees across the street, staining his vision for a moment with a ghostly blue. Without a second thought, he ran into the storm.

Liam had his paint and brushes wrapped in heavy plastic, his pad and easel in the leather case he’d always used.

Within a block his hair and clothes were sodden and heavy, and he swam through columns of rain so thick they blocked his sight. But he could see far ahead of him a glow as if the sky were broken, and through the tear poured the illimitable light he sought.

Liam felt his stomach tense and rise and almost touch his throat. He felt the thunder chase behind him through the ground, but he was faster.

Finally the curtain lifted and revealed the well of blue, hazed around its limits by swift and violent nebulas that clenched and loosened, concentrating light into a single yellow core.

Liam quickly dumped his things out on the saturated grass and fumbled for a brush and paint. He propped his easel up and painted like he’d never done before, his brush coiling on the canvas like the winds that scoured around him.

When he was through, Liam slid the canvas quick into its case and turned toward the darkened edge behind him. He took a step and felt the vivid heat move through his body, the perfect light for just a flash, then black and nothing else.

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