Contemporary Fiction Teens & Young Adult

The sun beats down on my bare shoulders, causing the sunburn I already have to ache and burn. I pump harder on my bike, wanting nothing but to reach home and hide from the sun and dryness of the area.

This year, the summer weather has been ferocious, killing plants and drying up water. We've had to conserve water because it's so scarce nowadays. We haven't had rain in a long time, and all our crops are dying. Some people are dying because of the intense heat and contaminated water that brought sickness and health issues.

The rain stopped at the beginning of February, and at first, it wasn't that big of a deal. It doesn't rain much here, so nobody was concerned. But when summer rolled around with the highest temperatures we've had in years, people started worrying. The water was drying up, and crops withered from the sun. People were dying from dehydration left and right, and now only people with loads of money can stay completely hydrated 24/7. Families who make enough money to live comfortably have just enough water to survive each day. We have been barely scraping by.

I turn onto the street with my house, excited for shade and cool water.

My mother wanted me to try to find any spare water I could. She was 7 months pregnant, and she was afraid the baby would be seriously affected and die. I couldn't find much spare water when I went out, but I wanted to help my mother. So every couple of days I would go out and ride to the supermarket. As usual, I didn't collect that much water, but It's always better than nothing.

I pull into my driveway and park my bike inside the garage. I close the garage door and walk inside with the tiny jug of water.

 "Mirana, is that you?" I heard my mother call out.

 "Yes, mom," I answered.

 "Have you gotten any water this time?" she asked as I walked into the living room she was sitting in.

 "Mhm. Not as much as last time, but it was a lot easier to get," I showed off the tiny jug I got.

 "It's great, honey. You know, you don't have to go out so often. Some days, you don't even have any water to bring home! You're getting sunburnt, too, from this wretched sun. Maybe you should take a break for a little while," My mother suggested; eyes crinkling up in worry.

 "You need all the water you can get. Besides, I like riding my bike," I smiled unconvincingly.

My mother looked so worried and frustrated. I knew how guilty she must feel; how useless. But I'm all she has to protect her and the baby. And I won't quit getting all the spare water I can for them.

I walked into the kitchen to grab a glass to pour the water in for my mother, pouring all the spare water I got. My tongue was dry and aching for a sip, but mother’s lips were chapped and I was just as scared as she was for my future sibling. I know I have a spare bottle here somewhere, and I’ll search for it in a minute. But first, I’ll give my mother her extra cup. The kitchen TV was blaring the news channel, which was broadcasting all of the same stuff we'd been hearing. 'Massive Drought!' and 'Not Enough Water For the People!', 'Massive death count!', and things like that. I sighed and poured the water slowly into the glass, wondering how people got into this mess. Surely with all of our modern technology and brains, we could have made something clever to protect ourselves and prevent all this death and tragedy. But we just ignored the signs staring us in the eye until it got nose to nose and nearly took our eyes out.

I started walking out of the kitchen with the warm glass in my hand when something on the TV stopped me. It was showing the weather forecast again, and at first, everything looked the same. Dry as a bone, no hope of water. But in the corner of the screen was an orange blob that wouldn't even cover my city. Then, the forecast showed it turning red in some areas, growing larger and larger, stretching over multiple states, indicating a large and heavy rainstorm.

I stared in shock, wondering if this was just somehow an error they had made; some hope-filled guess. But the longer I stared at it, the brighter and larger the orange and red seemed; the more hope swelled in my chest. After months of no rain, there finally seemed to be some. And not just a little drizzle, but a large thunderstorm! My heart leaped with joy and I rushed into the living room where my mother was staring at the TV. It was broadcasting some different disaster, another dried-up river perhaps, so I grabbed the remote and flipped the channels.

"What are you?-," My mom started to ask when she saw the weather forecast. She gasped and stared at the TV, which was showing the storm growing even heavier. My mother laughed and started crying softly, and I was hugging her tightly, laugh-crying with her. Maybe everything would be ok. Maybe we wouldn't all die of thirst.

The storm was going to happen in a couple of days. We could survive that long. That was easy! It was the easiest thing we could do since the rain first stopped coming. But it was also the hardest thing. The agony of having to wait would be the worst thing we’ve ever had to endure. Or at least it seemed that way. But if we could survive these past couple of months waiting for something to happen, we could wait two days. I heard shouts and cheers outside and headed out to see why. Most of the neighborhood was out on the street cheering and whopping at the sky, eager for the storm to start. I walked out into the street with my mother behind, going to see what everyone was excitedly chattering about. 

“Can you believe it? After three months of no rain, we finally have the largest storm I’ve ever seen!” A woman exclaimed.

“It’s a miracle!” another man shouted.

I looked back at my mother, who was gazing at the sky in wonder. I looked up, seeing tiny gray puffs floating in the sky. Me and my mother headed back to our house, chattering excitedly about the upcoming storm.

The next day was the worst 24 hours I’ve ever had in my entire life. The entire day, the sky grew darker and looked more menacing by the hour. For the first time in what felt like forever, the sun wasn’t beating down on my shoulders on my ride to the supermarket. It felt almost cool, and the bike ride was pleasant and I didn’t hate every second of it like I did every other bike ride. As per usual, my haul was disappointingly small, but what did it matter? Buckets of rain were coming, and this would be fine for today. I mainly looked for any jug-like container to store water. I wanted to make sure that in case this would be the last rain we see, at least we got some good out of it.

Me and mother kept the weather forecast on full blast on every single TV we owned, just so we wouldn’t miss anything. We still drank little of the water we had to conserve, just in case, but we couldn’t help but hope that this would all be over. We tried to stay awake all night, but quickly failed and slept huddled up together 

 That next morning, we set out chairs and tents to watch for the storm, and after agonizing waiting that seemed to go on for decades, it started to thunder. Me and mother stood in the front yard like many of our other neighbors watching the nearly black clouds cover every bit of blue sky. The rumbling was getting louder, and seemed to rumble deep within my bones. A flash of light shot across the sky, illuminating it for a split second. While mother sat in the chair under the tent unconsciously rubbing her stomach and tapping her fingers on her leg, I stood out in the yard and stared at the sky, looking for any sign of the storm starting. Suddenly, only a couple minutes later, I felt a small drop hit my nose. Then another hit my cheek. I held out a hand and felt a few more small drops. It started to drizzle, and then before I knew it, rain was pounding down. It came down so hard and fast that I was sure I would have a bruise. Over the loud rumbling of thunder and pounding of rain, I heard shouts and cheers. Or at least I thought I heard them. All that seemed to fill my ears now was the pound of a storm. I saw my mother, who at some point got up and joined my side in the yard, laughing and twirling around softly. She had her arms waving up in the air as if she was trying to grab the rain. I laughed and turned my head up, closing my eyes and feeling drops of humanity’s savior roll cleanly off my face.

January 19, 2024 23:26

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