Rainmother, Bless Us!
~ a short story
They say the one that brings the rain is the only one worth the worship.
I happen to agree. Whoever they are…
The people around Samuel, dressed in the oceanic cloaks of their ancient and long forgotten kin, screamed into the overcast sky,
“Oh Rainmother, bless us!”
They spoke in unison, even the children. Samuel said the words too, though he whispered them. All the voices collectively wavered with weakness, righteous but delirious. Within their little valley amidst the mountains, they were hungry, they were dying.
Samuel kneeled in the center mass of town, where the people came to meet and eat and exchange of themselves their livelihoods and their loves. He kneeled where the well crossed four main pebbled paths. The well was empty but the people were here. Samuel kneeled over the hewn stone with fingers clasped in a solemn call for aid, for absolution.
Oh Rainmother, if you can hear me…
Beyond the buildings, grey and desiccated fields flowed in a dry breeze. An ashen summer sky had doomed them day after day. Drought was slaughtering Samuel’s town, slowly but surely. So he prayed. And the people cried up to those rainless heavens, to the darkening clouds with their hidden wombs of water, to the rivers in the sky that would not birth themselves into a flow from on high.
The days were growing shorter. Soon they’d have no time to prepare for winter.
Samuel had told everyone to gather on a lark. Something about “God.” He’d patched together a prophecy borne of childhood musings from elders and medicine men: Every thousand years a “Rainmother” appears and…
His neighbors didn’t take that much convincing. Word spread and the people gathered. This time without conflict, without wars brewing over who was best fit to lead them through crisis. They gathered for catharsis. They wore the garbs and artifacts of their ancestors unconsciously; Samuel did not command such a thing to pair with his idea. He merely told them the words to speak into the clouds, to draw her.
“Oh Rainmother, bless us!”
At first, Samuel did not believe anything would happen. This was a practice in desperation, a religious rapture. Closure for a community that was already dead and just didn’t know it yet. He was trying to gift them with hope the only way he knew how; Samuel believed that many others knew the truth of this act too. Perhaps without real purpose, the townsfolk gathered to gather.
But the more Samuel looked up to the abyss of cloudform roiling above… the more he felt the grip of an empowering wind streaming through his thinning hair and over his emaciated form trembling with the weight of precarious existence in a harsh land… the more he started to believe.
Samuel took a breath and recalled an old memory, from Gran. Her honey tone singing him a lullaby borne of another ancient legend. Might it be the same one?
Mankind is molded for misadventure
Blood is wine
And flesh is sugar
The song of the Nightmother gives us wings!
With wings, man may finally fly
Into the blue and out with the red
Man-Fire is what makes the Nightmother sing!
Soon night fell over the town and clouds engulfed any moon there may have been. The chirping of the insects culled into a deafening nothingness and the winds fell to stillness. A hush subsumed the people as they watched a miracle begin.
Samuel raised into the air. From his central seat of prayer at the gathering, he began to float. A singular gleam of twilight piercing the dark cloud cover captured his entire body. He rose into the sky with gasps from his neighbors. They watched him, still kneeling with head down in deep prayer, ascend. Muffled curses and blessings were spoken as the baffled people watched. Some repeated those ancient words with even more life behind them,
“Oh Rainmother, bless us! Bless us!!”
Samuel left the ground and well behind and began to feel a subtle pressure all over his body. It was like he was underwater, at the bottom of a lake but able to breathe free. Freer than ever were the gulps of precious air that Samuel took now.
He opened his eyes and saw a spiraling mist of droplets spin about him. Rain! They splashed onto his skin, chilly and harsh. Goose flesh wracked his spine. But it was supported by something other than air. Samuel felt held. Belief became fact.
He was high in the sky, nearing the clouds. With vision failing and the air getting obscenely cold, Samuel shut his eyes. He began to hear the people below, his town of neighbors, fellow starving farmers and craftsman, scream in terror. It rang out through the night as they scattered. The children gawked and cried, immortalizing the sight in the hidden mind.
The pressure grew into a great vice upon his limbs. Samuel could feel his bones there begin to break.
Samuel opened his eyes and saw fingers as big as him. He did not have the time to cry out as a giant palm enveloped him.
The skin of the hand was blue as ice and soft as silk. It closed with grace. Long nails sharpened like sickles came together as little Samuel shattered. The lithe mitt attached to an arm and rose into the impossible mystique of clouds above. Crimson streams flowed down like a waterfall over the azure knuckles.
The Rainmother had chosen her sacrifice. The hand clutching the man receded into the darkness of a storm and the lands became drenched in a fast-falling red rain that lasted for two weeks. The people bathed and drank long and deep, singing out the words again and again in ecstasy.
“Rainmother, bless us!”
The town’s crops regrew in days and did not stop growing for months. A lushness touched the region that had never been seen before.
The Prophet Samuel has a statue over the well these days. That’s where the Rainmother’s annual Gift will be given in His name, in perpetuity. ~