I want to thank everyone who has submitted to our flash fiction competitions! I love reading through the submissions and seeing the widely different takes on the prompt. This week I was intrigued by an untitled entry by Delaney Croft, that did something different. Instead of literally describing the scene in the picture, the author used it as inspiration for a character and feel. The piece is exciting and the first one I have read to depart from a direct description of the prompt. This is creative outside the box type thinking, and I love it!
Arelana’s eyes open with a start. Awareness of her father’s death is immediate in the pale morning light; the rains have finally stopped.
Conflicting feelings of dread and relief roil in her chest, the weight of their entire village now on her shoulders. Her father never fully believed she would fulfill the role placed on her once he was gone. Even now, lying in bed and listening to the sounds made new again by the absence of rain, she herself is uncertain. Had her brother, Alarick, arrived ten minutes earlier into the world, the duty would have befallen him, and in that her father’s faith would have been unshakable.
For several months, the rains had become unpredictable as her father’s sickness coursed through his body. Crops had withered in the summer sun, and in the fall, floods had ruined most of what remained in the food stores. More than once, the villagers had nearly taken matters into their own hands to escape the uncertainty. Alarick had smoothed things over then, placated them.
Now, it is done. That is the relief.
Dread comes in knowing that the people will now look to her to harness the rains. And what if she cannot? Will Alarick be able to save her then? Will he want to?
A knock at her door, the sound she expects, but surprises her at the same time.
She climbs from her bed, closing her gown around her, and calls out. It is Alarick. “He is gone,” he tells her through the door. She pulls it open and searches his face. His eyes are clear and bright. But Arelana knows her brother better than anyone. He is saddened over the loss of their father, yes. But more than this, his eyes convey one worry: will she be able to carry their burden?
Months pass. Drought lays waste to their lands. As their father feared, Arelana has not been able to summon the rains.
“Concentrate, dammit!” Alarick implores her. The late afternoon heat makes him irritable.
“You think I have not tried? Day and night,” she says. Her voice strains. She’s hardly slept. “He should have made certain when we were born that you were the next in line.” It would have been easy enough, after all.
“Don’t say that.” His voice softens. He strokes her auburn hair. She pushes his hand aside.
A knock at her door catches her off guard. Alarick goes to answer it. Three villagers burst in. “Step aside,” the first says. “We come for the Rainmaker.”
Arelana rises, readies herself to whatever fate awaits. She is tired, tired of trying to summon things which will not come. The men come for her. Alarick darts forward to protect her as the knife plunges into his chest. He collapses in his sister’s arms, surrounding them in a pool of crimson blood.
“No!” Arelana’s cries pierce the stillness. Her sorrow echoes and swells. And outside, her storm clouds finally roll in.
Delaney Croft is an author of urban fantasy and speculative fiction. Occasionally, she dabbles in other things. Find her on:
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