RAIN

Hunter was standing just beneath the the branches of the old oak tree they used to run around, the one under which they used to lie down, talking endlessly, laughing with artless laughs and swathed in careless joy. It had been months since he’d stood at this place, even though it lay just behind his home. But the weather hadn’t been this way either, and after all, that was the sole reason why he was here. He looked up. The sky was grey and steely, with dark clouds promising a violent storm. The clouds weren’t overhead yet, they were still moving, streaming across the sky with a deliberate pace. The wind had picked up, although the breeze had been icy since the morning and the speed with which it was rushing, no, rather racing, was enough to match the pain of a hundred knives tearing right through your chest. Hunter took his jacket off and hung it on the nearest branch.

He was thinking about a day, not much different than this one, twenty one years ago. She had come to him on the evening of the first storm of the year. It had been pouring down heavily when 12 year old Hunter and the ancient monks sat down to pray before dinner, and suddenly there was the piercing sound of a thunder outside that managed to shake even the heavy mahogany front door. As the sound of thunder subsided there was another sound, it was eerie, almost as if someone was crying. The oldest monk, rushed towards the door and gasped as he opened it. On the patio in an ivory basket lay a beautiful pink baby, wailing. He smiled and wrapped up the baby in his jacket and brought her towards the others. He smiled even more when he saw little Hunter’s eyes transfixed upon the baby. Since that day Hunter let nobody else take care of the baby. He quietly and firmly took the baby in his arms and looked at her with wonder. And there in the wistful sky the clouds that had been screaming were touched. They trembled and poured down but this was different. There was no thunder, just the fierce, cold wind that would susurrate what those dark clouds wanted to say.

He named the girl Rain.

The next few years of Hunter’s life were strikingly different than his old one. He had grown up with scriptures and old monks with just a history of his family. But now he had Rain. The first 10 years of her life, Rain grew up like any other kid- happy carefree and with blackened knees. But more beautiful than any other kid that had ever been. She and Hunter would play in the woods out the back, learn their hymns together and go for blessings together. Some days when it wasn’t raining they would walk to the nearest town in the county so that Rain could spend time with kids her own age. Hunter would always get pangs of guilt for being a little too old for her when he saw her with them. But he never treated her like anything other than a sister. Or his closest friend. And then something about Rain and Hunter changed. As Rain turned 11 she began to look at Hunter in a different way. She would stare into his brown eyes on chilly days and feel the warmth that Hunter wanted her to feel.

When she was 12 the way she touched Hunter changed. She stopped touching him unthinkingly, she stopped hitting him when he irritated her. When she held him she felt exuberant, it made her feel as if their touch was electric, and when they lay on the grass together she would move just a little bit closer to him. Rain would never know what Hunter was thinking; he always looked at her the same- as if she were a walking-talking miracle, as if she weren’t human. She used to feel aggravated because she couldn’t understand why he looked at her that way, now she could only blush.

But when she turned 12, there was something else that changed. Every night while she slept something dark would visit her. They were dark shapes, like men and women, only without substance. They were mere outlines, filled with dark clouds. They drifted in whenever she slept, coddled her like a family, sometimes she would rise up a few inches while still fast asleep, and the dark shapes would cower down when she did that. Hunter had seen all of this, he wasn’t scared. He had always known there was something different about Rain, something otherworldly. And then one day he realised it- Rain had been borne not by humans but with supernatural forces. When she was happy the dark clouds burst and rain would cascade days at a stretch, storms would form and take violent shapes. When she got hurt or was angry with Hunter the clouds were gone. She did this. She brought the rain. On the eve of her 12th birthday she and Hunter had been sitting beneath their favourite oak tree, and they were talking. He watched her play with fallen leaves. The dry and dead leaves when pressed up against her finger would bosom up with life. She would make things move before she touched them. But Rain never talked about it. And so neither did Hunter. But he filled with pride as he watched her strength grow. Her voice, her walk, her laughter, her power, enchanted him more and more each day. She was a force that pushed him closer to living.

But not everyone was enchanted by her. Although the monks had not seen the dark shapes that crept in at nights they had witnessed Rain’s growing power. And they had never seen anything like it. Which is why they couldn’t tolerate it.

One morning they sent Hunter to the nearby village to get their weekly supplies. They called Rain to sit with them near the water altar, tricked her into thinking they would teach her hymns of the water. They saw the child’s eyes grow wider with fear when she heard them chanting. Rain couldn’t believe what was happening to her. They were her family. She couldn’t think. And then her eyes went placid. Like the power they once held was fading. They told her it was what everyone wanted, what Hunter wanted. Hearing this her eyes closed into a death of their own. She didn’t want to hear anything else, or see anything more. The monks, through their enchantments and spells had frozen her inside ice and buried her beneath the black mountains that towered over the cathedral. It never rained since.

When Hunter came home he knew something was wrong. There were no clouds peering down at him from the sky. And then they told him with lowly hung faces, what they had done. Somehow the monks managed to skip the part where they had lied to her about Hunter. They felt it would be better for the boy this way.

Hunter stopped living, there was nothing, no Rain to push him. He spent his days with books and spells thinking of a way to make her come back fast. For he knew she would come, he had seen enough of her cosmic powers to know that. He knew what she was capable of, it was only a matter of time and then he would see her again.
Hidden under a layer of snow and frozen in a block of ice, Rain couldn’t think. She could only feel. She knew what to do, what she didn’t know was how long it would take. Day after day, year after year she spent feeling sad, resentful, betrayed. She made the perennial snows melt. But this ice was different, it was formed with magic. But her power was greater than the monks had imagined. And then one day, after years she felt a little weight off. The enchanted ice had started to melt. It took her 9 years to free herself. She had aged under that ice; the face that once had belonged to a lively and beautiful little girl had transformed into an icy bitterness, and yet belonged to a beautiful young woman. She felt fury inside of her and she brought on fury outside of her. Angry clouds crawled across the sky and rested above her. The night was Stygian. And just like that, Rain returned to the cathedral, home of Hunter and the monks. She came in through the back just to see the old tree for the last time. She saw a jacket hanging on its branch. She walked all the way round to the front door and opened it, she didn’t use her hands. Hunter and the monks were standing around the table, food served for each, hands clasped together in prayer. She entered with a thud. After 9 years Hunter looked at her. He fell on his knees. He had tears in his eyes but Rain didn’t see it. They all knew why she was here, and the monks’ faces trembled with horror. But Hunter smiled through his tears. He knew she hadn’t died. He knew she would come back to him. He knew after destroying the monks they both would live happily together, as happy as they were before. He knew nothing.

“Why did you do this to me? What had I done to you? Why did you bury me while I was still alive?” her stentorian voice screamed.

With one strike of her hand Rain ripped them all, leaving no one in the room. All of them fell to the ground, mouths wide open, hands still clasped. All except Hunter. He had felt the strike deep in his bones, but was still on his knees. He looked at Rain with all the love he had saved in the past 21 years. He looked at her the way that would’ve made her blush if it had been 9 years ago. He forgave her, and then he fell.

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