The rain pounded mercilessly against the window. The wind howled like a band of coyotes. The dead, dry leaves fell from their tree homes & were whisked away never to be seen again. The night was unbearably frigid. A miniature pumpkin rolled away from its porch like a tumbleweed in the desert. Then Sienna woke up. 

It was just a dream. She batted her heavy eyelids, struggling to keep them open. Sienna turned to her bedside table & grabbed her cell. The time on her cracked iPhone read 9:42 am; it was a Saturday so she slept in. Sienna opened the blinds silently wishing for a cool autumn day, only to find the sun was out in full force. This was fall in Southern California.

"It's the middle of October & it's 93°," Sienna told herself incredulously. "I can't believe this."

She got out of bed & took a shower. She was all sweaty because she naïvely wore a blanket to bed hoping for a cold night. That didn't turn out so well. Sienna brushed her wet long brown hair with a wide tooth comb, carefully untangling any knots. She was supposed to meet her friend Rachel for brunch at 11; she was running late. Luckily, Rachel is known for her tardiness so Sienna knew she had an extra half an hour.

autumn in southern california

She checked the weather on her phone again. This time the temperature read 97°F. Mostly sunny with a chance of light rain.

"Fat chance," Sienna thought. "I guess I can't wear my fabulous new white maxi parka. I knew I shouldn't have purchased it. I'll probably only wear once a year, if that." She chose her trusty denim shorts & a band t-shirt from her fiancé's side of the closet. 

"Nirvana is always a good choice," she said out loud. She went back to the bathroom to apply her make up. The apartment was so stuffy. Sweat formed on her upper lip; she wiped it away & went to turn on the air conditioner. Sienna finished applying her face.

"At least my eyebrows look fierce," she thought. "But they'll probably melt off." She checked her phone; the time read 10:46 am. Sienna called Rachel to tell her she was on her way to pick her up. She turned off the air conditioner & make the trek to her little red car. The air felt thick & heavy & hot. She wiped a trickle of sweat from her brow & got in her car.

The steering wheel was scalding. The seat belt buckle was burning. Sienna lightly placed her elbow on the center console & regretted it the moment it singed her skin. She immediately blasted the AC as high as it would go, as cold as it would go. She buckled up & went to Rachel's house. The car thermostat read 98°F.

"Jeez," Sienna said. "That's a California fall for you." She rolled her eyes.

Sienna pulled up to Rachel's & gave her a call.

"Hey friend! I just got here; I'm outside," said Sienna.

"I'll be out in a minute," Rachel replied excitedly. It was more like seven minutes. At least the AC had effectively cooled down the car by now. Sienna rubbed her burned elbow. Rachel ran out the door; her shoes in her hand. She opened the door & said: "Hi friend! My bad."

"No worries. Shall we head to Manny's?" Sienna asked. Manny's was the best café for brunch. They made the most amazing bottomless Bloody Mary's in the history of the world. That's what Rachel & Sienna thought at least.

"Yes. Let's. It's freaking hot out here," said Rachel. "A Bloody Mary or two or seven should cool us off a little."

Sienna laughed in agreement. She pulled out of the driveway & made the brief journey to Manny's. Not only was it the best brunch in town, but it was literally the closest place to eat. They got out of the car & reluctantly took a seat outside under the awning. The inside was packed.

"Apparently we aren't the only ones who want some refreshing midday Bloody Mary's," Rachel said as she tied her hair up in a messy bun. "This is the worst fall we've had in years."

The server came by & the girls placed their bottomless drinks order, as well as a side of French toast to share.

"I know right. The rest of the world is drinking their scalding hot pumpkin spice lattes, putting on their finest trench coats, & sporting their favorite vampy lipstick. All the while here in So Cal we're wiping away sweat & avoiding any sun exposure for fear of spontaneous combustion," Sienna laughed.

"It's true. So true. I was looking at a fall inspiration Pinterest board & I literally cried one tear. Everything looked so good, but there's no way I'm going to drink a freaking pumpkin spice latte when it's literally 100° out here. Thanks San Diego!" Rachel mockingly shook her fist at the sky.

The server brought out a Bloody Mary pitcher. The girls couldn't contain their excitement.

"Thanks," they said in unison as the server set it down & poured each of them a glass.

"Cheers to pumpkin spice lattes & rain & being able to wear layers without sweating all over." Sienna raised her glass. Rachel clinked it.

"Cheers to that & cheers to the fall that we wish for." Rachel added.

"Cheers to fall!" Sienna said.

"Cheers to fall!" Rachel responded.

They clinked again & took their first sip. Little did they know that the Earth had heard their wishes & let out a solid 47 seconds of light sprinkle. It was hot. It was stuffy. They still had to wipe off some sweat. But it rained. If only for a moment. And in that instant, they were happy.

What did you think of this short story about fall in California? :]

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