When It Rains

Taliyaah Onze
4 min readMar 2, 2021

--

Ask, and you shall receive

They fled. The nuclear plant was dangerous, the scientists said, although nuclear energy was centuries-forgotten technology. It was just the farmer and his wife left in the empty lake bed, shadowed by the plant’s towers, fertile for corn.

His wife died three years ago, but the farmer refused to abandon his one-bedroom wood cabin and single square mile cornfield. If he tried to leave, the villages on the other side of the mountain wouldn’t take him in. Although a mute, he understood speech clearly (his wife was talkative, even on her deathbed). They wouldn’t want to add a radioactive farmer to their already ailing settlement.

Crumbled smokestacks like jagged, burned hands pointing to grey and cloudless skies. They peered from the top of the dried basin, drawing long shadows where the mountains opposite didn’t. A mile into the ravine stood a lonely tree, the Harvest Tree, cracked in half last year during a severe lightning storm by the angry storm goddess. It hadn’t rained since. The farmer didn’t mind at all.

The radioactive corn hated water, and the farmer went to great lengths to keep his corn happy. It was all he had left. Every day, for five years running, the farmer visited the tree to pray for help with the harvest when the sun sank to the other side of the nuclear plant. Age made it difficult, losing a wife made harvesting corn before winter near impossible. Together, they filled their rickety shed with ears of corn, along with stacks of salted butter from their old cow. Alone, he barely survived for the spring planting.

If he couldn’t get his wife back, he would join her in death. He survived two decades in this harsh climate, five with his wife. Maybe with the right amount of corn and butter, one wish would come true.

The farmer stood a few feet away from the tree, counting out a third of his corn and a third of his butter from his straw basket. The day before, he gave her some salted goat meat. Before that, a jar of corn and weed soup. He recited a prayer in his head several times. Without pomp, without ceremony, he recovered his basket and started his trek home.

The tree groaned. The farmer froze, watching the tree’s jagged branches creak and groan. He backed up, waiting for it to snap in half. Instead, a thin white arm reached out from inside the tree. A few seconds later, a woman pulled herself out.

She fell, face first, into the hard mud. Her neck bent at a sharp angle when she hit the tangle of rotting roots. She stilled.

The farmer crouched next to the goddess, shaking her shoulder. She stirred, meeting his eyes with contempt. Who was he to touch a goddess? Would she forgive him for that?

The farmer dropped the basket and backed away, keeping his eyes on her until there was a good fifteen feet between them. Only then, he dared run back to the thick of his cornfield.

The goddess waited until the farmer disappeared before getting up.
He mistook her for the harvest goddess. Again. But the corn was a perfect yellow and the butter fresh. Would the storm goddess forsake a gift on such a small technicality? Not as if her sister was there to claim it. He prayed diligently and kept her well fed. “Someone has to take care of you, silly young man.” The goddess yawned.

She stared up at the sky, waving her arms. It closed with thick grey clouds, a storm rumbling in the distance in reply. “Enough of this. Let the fields weep,” the lightning demanded. The storm goddess smiled. Her little farmer would have a storm unlike any other, one that would bless the lands he claimed. When the winds picked up, the goddess picked up her basket and climbed back inside her split root tree.

On the other side of the mountains, meteorologists with their outdated equipment ordered another evacuation. The farmer didn’t hear it, braced in his tiny cabin with his remaining animals. Perhaps he should have given him the last of salted goat meat.

The goddess didn’t leave her tree until the next morning, her basket cleaned and ready for more corn. She wondered if he would have the sense to bring her cooked corn today. However, the goddess waited from sunrise till sunset, and her farmer still didn’t show. Was he stuck in a mud puddle? She didn’t take him for a smart man, but he was never disloyal to her.

She abandoned her tree, daring to venture up out of the basin towards his fields.

Soggy corn stalks scattered the flooded fields, crushed by gallons of rain. The little wood cabin still smoked — at least what remained of its collapsed roof and fireplace. His shed still stood, sheltering a bedraggled goat and two chickens, clucking for their master, washed away in the overflowing mountain lake. The goddess dropped her basket. She sulked back to her tree with only a few wet ears of corn fished from the mud for the evening’s meal.
Someone would come along again and pick up the pieces. They always did when it rained.

--

--