Calling the Rain

Submitted into Contest #160 in response to: Set your story during a drought.... view prompt

48 comments

Fiction Drama

The lack of rain this season has hit us all hard but the land most of all. Without any moisture the ground has began to crack open and pull away like fighting friends.

I found a crevice yesterday morning large enough to fit three fingers within the crack sideways. Papa told me to keep my hands out of places they don’t belong. Mama says if rain does not grace us before long, I will be able to place my whole fist within the cracks of the earth. Worst case scenario, it goes on long enough for my entire feet to fall in. Calvin says I will never get the chance to fall down into the cracks, he says none of us will live that long. Mama done told him to quit speaking that way, but she never says otherwise. Papa believes there’s water to be found. He remembers an oasis from when he was a boy. His father promised him the area would always bring him good fortune but more importantly, water. Calvin says we’ll never find it, Mama says I’ll be the one to find it.

Mama reminds us that I was born in the driest season they had ever witnessed, until this year that is. She says my first cry called the rain. I brought a downpour and earned the name Oasis. Although everyone just calls me O. Mama only calls me Oasis when she is using my full name to scold me. Most of the time I don’t even deserve it, Calvin does.

“How much further Papa?” I ask for what feels like the thousandth time. I know I’m irritating him but I just can’t help it. The question slips out every couple of hours.

Papa doesn’t lecture me but instead answers, “Not much longer now. We will be there soon enough.”

Calvin mutters under his breath that Papa has got us lost. I don’t blame Cal for feeling this way. Papa has been giving that same answer for three days now. The first four days he only replied with the words ‘soon enough.’ It doesn’t feel soon enough to me.

Although I can’t keep myself from asking how much further, I am able to hold my tongue when I want to complain of being thirsty. I’m old enough now to realize I don’t have the right to complain about it, especially not when Papa has been giving me sips of his rations.

We only have around two gallons of water left. We used the majority of our water in the beginning. But on day 73 when everything dried up or was bottled up by others, and when the ground began to separate, Papa knew it was time to quit waiting on the rain. On day 83 he released the farm animals to let them try to find water on their own and packed us up for the trip.

Calvin wanted to ride the horses to the Oasis but Mama said that would be cruel. The distance is too far and we didn’t have enough water to keep them hydrated and us alive. Cal is mad that he’s going to die out here. He said he’d much rather die in the comfort of his own bed. I would just rather not die.

“I think,” Papa begins, “I think we’re almost there. It should be just over this hill.” I know it must be true because Papa gave an update without me having to ask.

“You think?” Cal complains in a nasty tone. Mama cuts him a look that has his mouth clamping shut and his eyes lowering to the ground. He may think he’s grown but not even my older brother is dumb enough to go against Mama.

I hope Papa is right and I have faith unlike Cal. I have to have faith because I can’t stand another day of tiny sips and these dirty clothes. I am tired of carrying the pack on my back and I want a bath desperately. I know I have to stink awfully by now because Calvin sure does.

We’ve only got a few more feet and we will be at the top of this hill. I fall in line behind Calvin who carries on behind Mama as she follows Papa in the lead. I know the moment Papa has made it to the top because I hear him say Mama’s name. A smile falls across my face and I hurry around Calvin with my second wind. The first thing I see is the larger than a wagon sized hole of water. There is lush green grass and vegetation surrounding it. The color is a drastic contrast to the barren brown earth we’ve been traveling across. The second thing I notice brings me to my knees.

“There won’t be enough to support us all or any of us for much longer,” Mama states because the green patch is surrounded by people. From where we stand atop the hill, we can see even more people traveling towards us on their way to the Oasis. To what was supposed to be our Oasis. It seems Papa wasn’t the only person told of its location.

We can’t stay here and we’ll never be able to make it back home. This was our last option. We will die out here. Mama. Papa. Cal. Me. And with the way the people are already fighting down below, these last few days won’t even be pleasant.

My eyes begin to burn and my chest feels too tight. It feels as if it is pulling apart like the cracked earth I kneel on. Cal was right, I won’t live long enough to fall between the cracks. Or worse, Papa will give me his water rations and I’ll live the longest. I am much smaller than the rest of my family, younger than them too. I could outlive them. They will give up their water for the chance that I could live long enough for the drought to end. That truly is worse. I will be alone. Tears begin to collect, daring to fall. I didn’t know I was still able to cry.

“Save your tears, water is too precious out here,” Papa instructs.

Helplessness seizes me like a hawk with its prey. It swoops down and takes up all the restraint I have left, crushing me. I take my hands and dry the tears that stream my face, not letting them fall any further. I curl my damp fingers in until my knuckles turn white. I raise my fists slamming them to the ground. The sound of connection with the dried earth is muffled though. Muffled by the thunder that claps like heavenly hands above us. Although I dried my cheeks, I can feel them dampen once more. But I am not crying, Papa told me to stop.

“O,” My mother says in a low awed voice. I open my eyes but I do not look up. Instead I am looking down. Down at the dried earth that has now become spotted. Down at the cracks where something is falling, slipping down between them.

“It’s raining,” Calvin whispers to himself. “It’s raining,” my brother says a little louder. “It’s raining,” he shouts leaping into the air with his arms raised above his head. “O, you called the rain.”

The people below us, at the bottom of the hill, have stopped fighting. They are now dancing and falling to their knees as well. I turn to my right in time to see Mama throw her arms around Papa. His lips meet hers and then he wraps her in a bone shattering hug. Calvin is still jumping but now with his head back and his tongue out.

I almost lost all of this. I could’ve spent the rest of my life alone. Now I won’t have to, at least not just yet. I look to the sky above that has been cloudless for weeks but now is filled. I whisper thanks and in all my gratitude I begin to weep the tears my Papa told me not to shed. I let loose a sob that is answered with an increase to the pitter patter. As I cry out, the downpour answers. 

August 22, 2022 19:29

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48 comments

M B
22:33 Sep 01, 2022

Good work! I liked the foreshadowing at the start about Oasis being born and how she called the rain, and here she does it once again. I also liked this line: Without any moisture the ground has began to crack open and pull away like fighting friends.

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S. E. Mary
22:51 Sep 01, 2022

Thank you so much! I am a sucker for some good foreshadowing! I’m glad you enjoyed it and your comment means a lot to me :)

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M B
04:21 Sep 03, 2022

You're quite welcome! I know comments are worth a lot. I could definitely use a few myself, my latest stories haven't received any feedback.

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S. E. Mary
04:31 Sep 03, 2022

I love you stories, I’ll make sure to leave a comment on the next story I read of yours!

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M B
14:11 Sep 03, 2022

I appreciate that!

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Shelby B
09:28 Sep 01, 2022

This story had me captivated from the beginning. The end gave me chills because I was so happy and relieved that the family got a happy ending. I loved reading this!

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S. E. Mary
13:58 Sep 01, 2022

Thank you so much Shelby! I don't write a lot of stories that have happy endings, I usually go with something tragic or shocking. This was a nice change of pace and I really had fun with it. I think I may start entraining the thought of happier stories after this.

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Victor Kilyungi
08:54 Sep 01, 2022

Wow! It's been a while since I was this captivated by a short story. Amazing work Mary. I hope I can write stories with intrigue like this one.

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S. E. Mary
14:03 Sep 01, 2022

Thank you so much Victor, your comment really means a lot to me! I hope I get the chance to read some of your work soon. I saw that you also just joined so here's a big welcome to Reedsy! : )

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Philip Ebuluofor
18:02 Aug 31, 2022

It holds interest from the beginning to the end. One of the best I have read this past week to date. Fine work. One submission, one hit. Highly welcome here.

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S. E. Mary
18:19 Aug 31, 2022

Thank you so much it truly means a lot! I wasn't quite sure about branching away from novels to write short stories but I have had so much fun with this prompt and the Reedsy community has been so amazing. I am grateful to be a part of this community and have the chance to read so many great stories by so many talented writers including yourself. I have really enjoyed your pieces and I cant wait to read more of your work! :)

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Philip Ebuluofor
12:32 Sep 02, 2022

My pleasure.

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13:52 Aug 31, 2022

This story is like rain in the desert it is such nice writing. I like everything about it. Powerful twist with the "second thing I notice brings me to my knees" and that sentence, emotion + suspense = wow. Also many great metaphors! "Helplessness seizes me like a hawk with its prey. It swoops down and takes up all the restraint I have left, crushing me. I take my hands ... Thanks for posting, and hope to read your future stories.

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S. E. Mary
15:10 Aug 31, 2022

Thank you so much Scott! I really appreciate your comment after reading your last few stories. This may sound silly but I felt so out of my element using metaphors for the first time in my writing. I'm glad I used it right and was able to convey my meaning correctly. Thank your for the reassurance and I look forward to reading your next pieces also!

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Howard Seeley
03:04 Aug 31, 2022

Hi Abby. Welcome to Reedsy. Nice story. I like the way you kept us hanging out to dry (pun intended), until the end. A couple of suggestions. Instead of: But on day 73 when everything dried up or was bottled up by others, and when the ground began to separate, Papa knew it was time to quit waiting on the rain Try something like: But by day seventy-three, the parched ground cracked, releasing its last precious drops of moisture into the atmosphere. Papa was heartbroken. As all hope faded, he was forced to face the hard truth. It was time t...

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S. E. Mary
12:54 Aug 31, 2022

Thank you Howard and thank you for the suggestions. I really appreciate them and I’ll think some of them over. I really like the sentence ‘It was time to quit waiting on a miracle’ :)

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Alexis The Loser
01:52 Aug 31, 2022

I love your use of vocabulary in this story. You work in a tone that is perfect for this scenery by using signature words that wouldn't be used today. I love this story and the characters are divine.

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S. E. Mary
02:02 Aug 31, 2022

Thank you Alexis! I really appreciate your comment! I am happy to hear you feel as if I got the tone and vocabulary choice right with this piece. :)

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Graham Kinross
00:10 Aug 31, 2022

I like that she gets the credit for it, that people cling to their superstitions for hope when things are hard. It was going to happen anyway but she’ll be the one held up as a saviour. It makes me think of cultures that used human sacrifices to appease the gods when crops were failing, and assumed when things sorted themselves out that the final murder was the one that made the gods happy.

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S. E. Mary
00:47 Aug 31, 2022

I can’t help but to think as it ended with her, as you said getting the credit, how disappointing it will be the next time a drought occurs and she is not able to call the rain. In my mind I feel as if Calvin would turn on her for not being able to call it the next time they desperately need it.

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Graham Kinross
05:17 Aug 31, 2022

Probably, and others if they believed it was her the first time would be as vicious, if not worse. I’d never want to be the lightning rod for that sort of desperate belief.

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Lane Bloom
18:46 Aug 30, 2022

Absolutely loved the ending, how it all came full circle with O calling the rain. A great story!!

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S. E. Mary
18:48 Aug 30, 2022

Thank you so very much! I am glad you liked the ending because it was not how I planned for it to end at all.

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09:23 Aug 30, 2022

Wow, so well written, skips along and the ending really packs a punch. Love how the narrator's 'first cry called the rain' and so they called her Oasis. An intriguing story, Great work.

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S. E. Mary
18:23 Aug 30, 2022

Thank you so much! I was nervous about naming the narrator Oasis when I knew the word would be used quite a lot in this contest.

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Rama Shaar
02:55 Aug 30, 2022

This was beautifully written and easy to read because it flowed naturally!

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S. E. Mary
18:27 Aug 30, 2022

Thank you Rama! This comment means a lot coming from an English teacher because I am sure you have read and wrote your fill of good stuff.

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Ian T. Smyth
21:14 Aug 29, 2022

This is so beautifully descriptive in such a simple way. Well done.

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S. E. Mary
21:34 Aug 29, 2022

Thank you! I greatly appreciate the comment after reading your inspiring piece. I noticed you also just joined Reedsy this month so I'd like to say welcome. I cant wait to read more from you in the future and interreact more together.

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Ian T. Smyth
21:47 Aug 29, 2022

Thank you for the welcome! This community seems to be very supportive of each other which is awesome. I can't wait to read more of your work too! Stay in touch. :)

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15:18 Aug 29, 2022

This is excellent! I love the tone, the language, and the natural fluidity of the story. I could see each character and the dryness of the land. I could feel their desperation and the children's impatience and the parent's determination as they travel to a place that may not be there. A wonderful first submission to Reedsy! I look forward to more of your stories. As a judge, I would have shortlisted this one :) Well done!

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S. E. Mary
15:37 Aug 29, 2022

This is the second short story I have ever written and it is vastly different than any book I have written or worked on before. This piece also majorly differs from what I enjoy reading myself. I was very nervous about not conveying the story how it needed to be written. Thank you for the comment and the reassurance that came with it. I always end of loving the pieces that scare me the most to try.

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15:48 Aug 29, 2022

That's one of the cool things about writing on Reedsy. The prompts not only give story ideas but they also call the inner creative to write in genres you may not have ever considered before. I think if people read all of the stories on my profile so far, they would find little consistency in genre. Comedy, thriller, drama, sci-fi, romance... You should be super proud of this story. It reads like a classic :)

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Theresa Tiller
15:15 Aug 29, 2022

This is beautiful, sad and hopeful at the same time. So little description, yet I can see each character clearly. I didn’t even feel the need for a backstory about how the drought came to be. Just a lovely read all around.

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S. E. Mary
15:31 Aug 29, 2022

Thank you for your comment, I am thrilled your perceived it as sad yet hopeful. I am very curious as to what gender your imagined Oasis to be. I almost added pronouns to clarify but after letting coworkers read it I decided not to. I work with an older set of people who all have grandkids and they each imagined Oasis to be the gender of their first grandchild. I found that very interesting.

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Theresa Tiller
16:56 Aug 29, 2022

Hmmmm….I imagined O being a young girl…but now that you’ve brought it up, I can’t really think why. How fascinating.

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Theresa Tiller
16:57 Aug 29, 2022

AND my first grandchild is, indeed, a girl.

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S. E. Mary
17:01 Aug 29, 2022

Oasis is a little girl in my mind! The funny part is I am still young and do not have children nor grandchildren yet. However I am 1 of 5 kids so I wonder if I imagines a girl because my youngest sibling out of us all is a girl.

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Gregg Voss
10:12 Aug 29, 2022

The best line in this story is: “Save your tears, water is too precious out here,” Papa instructs. Great line and great story.

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S. E. Mary
13:40 Aug 29, 2022

Thank you! It is quite comical and intriguing that you find that to be the best line because it is the sentence that inspired the entire story. At first I planned for it to be the line I ended the story with so I worked my way backwards to find a beginning. However by the time I fished I felt like Oasis deserved a happy ending.

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Gregg Voss
14:23 Aug 29, 2022

Readers by and large want to feel good at the end, when the hero either wins or survives. So that was an astute decision. What else are you working on? Care to share?

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S. E. Mary
15:05 Aug 29, 2022

I have written one novel that I am currently querying literary agents for. I have just begun my short story and flash fiction journey this month after discovering Reedsy. I decided it would be a good way to exercise and continue a writing habit as I map out my next novel I have planned. In addition to Calling the Rain I have written 6 other pieces that either fall under flash fiction or short story. I would be happy to share although the pieces vary drastically. Some are light and airy while others have dark or sad underlining themes.

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Gregg Voss
15:34 Aug 29, 2022

I've written two novels that need a LOT of work, and received middling feedback from my betas. But I will say, in that process (about two years) writing wasn't that fun; I lost my passion for it. But I shifted back to short stories and am enjoying it again. It's fun developing new material; the ideas are beginning to flow again, which is encouraging.

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S. E. Mary
15:54 Aug 29, 2022

I was worried I would fall into a slump after completing my novel. I am grateful I discovered short stories and flash fiction soon after because as you said they are fun. I am enjoying taking the time to work on small pieces in different genres and for different age demographics. I wish you all the best on your two novels. After reading some of your work it would be a shame if you didn't get the chance to share them with the world.

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Karen Mc Dermott
10:40 Aug 27, 2022

A wonderful piece of work, yet chilling as it doesn't seem too far away from becoming a reality. I wish I'd written this! And welcome to Reedsy :)

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S. E. Mary
11:29 Aug 27, 2022

Thank you for your comment and greeting! I love the Reedsy community so far and I can’t wait to take a look at your work

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Susan Williams
20:46 Aug 22, 2022

I love your story. Reminds me of Kristin Hannah's The Four Winds. Very clever name for Oasis, your main character--feels like you could expand this into an epic novel. Great writing!

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S. E. Mary
23:34 Aug 22, 2022

Thank you for taking the time to read my piece and comment! I was a little nervous about this story as it is completely different than anything I have ever written before.

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