*This story did make the literary pages! It was published by the The Squawk Back and appeared in edition 167 on March 19, 2017.
The Rain Maker
by Kristy Gherlone
The Rain Maker hears their cries long before she comes sweeping in to pass judgment. She hears it in the deafening stillness of the water. The creatures within lay in wait for her presence, listening in painful silence, praying for a miracle as the muddy depths suck them in and swallow them whole.
Rivers and streams pause suspended, then shrink away as if chased by demons, hiding behind rocks and sinking in holes, their miserable tears devoured by the sun-cracked shores.
She hears it in the crackling discomfort of the forest, assaulted by the hot wind’s laughing breath as it takes reign, snapping brittle branches and sending them crashing to the ground onto the splintering roots. Dry leaves toss and turn trying to find comfort in their stifling beds.
The tree birds whistle as though their beaks are full of crackers, their calls become parched cackles that scream warnings below. They scatter in flight, running from gray ghosts born of tossed embers that shield the sun and choke their eyes.
The Rain Maker moves in closer, growing heavy with sorrow. Creatures cry out for comfort, their tongues swollen with thirst. Tendrils reach for her, winnowing upwards for a taste of her relief. She knows she is being spiteful, withholding; but drought is making the rules. She fights with him, throwing cooling droplets that tease but he sends dusty swirls through the air that snuff out her moisture. He holds her back for only he can hear what whispers from beneath the earth and inside the decaying willows.
Soft wails of release from long hidden prisoners, spilled seeds and locked treasures deep in the ground, denied of light from their ancestors: they’ve been patient, just waiting for release, begging for the fire The Rain Maker steals.
Drought nurtures the flames that sweep through and open the land. The wind howls wickedly as she helps spread its demise, but some things must die so that others might live. Bringing new life that springs from the ashes and fulfilling promises broken each time The Rain Maker wept.
His score harshly settled, the wounds deep and raw, drought takes leave when the captives emerge.
The Rain Maker sweeps in with maternal bliss and offers the forest a Rain Maker’s kiss.