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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Outbreak (04/07/11)

TITLE: Searching for Rain
By Joanna Stricker


It was 1938. Every day same as the one before. Hot, dry, and dusty.

Dreams were a thing of the past—even for children. Papa would rise early searching the skies for a sign, any sign, of rain. The screen door opening and bumping behind my broom-wielding Mama usually woke the baby. Grandma would get the baby. I would lay there listening to Mama’s broom swishing, not rising until I heard the dirt pile being pushed off the porch.

On that day in ’38, I caught myself looking toward the rocking chair as I entered the kitchen. Grandpa had been gone for six months, but I missed him. Every time I looked at that chair expecting him, the hard knot in my chest twisted.

Grandma would look up from feeding the baby and greet me. Her face stays unchanged in my memory—lined with wrinkles, a slight smile, and strong, peace-filled eyes.

Mama’s eyes were usually worried, less so after she got religion, but still worried. Not like she used to—back when we lost our farm to the locusts. That was a bad year. Little Annie died—she’d reached her first birthday, barely.

The next year we moved to my grandparent’s farm, and the baby came. Things were better. Grandpa took me fishing, and Grandma planted a dogwood by the front porch in Annie’s memory. Watering had been my chore. It survived the winter of ’37, but now was a shriveled up twig—prey to the same hot dry winds that tormented our family’s days and nights.

When Mama’s eyes got overly-worried, she’d leave and come back looking more like Grandma, peaceful-like. I’d know she’d been talkin’ to Jesus a bit. Papa used to give her a hard-time, saying religion was for the weak, but then he went to a revival meeting.

He told me that he’d planned to teach that preacher a “hardship-lesson”. The meeting had begun so he waited at the back. Then—he got choked-up telling this part—he felt someone watching him. He looked around. No one was lookin’. He suddenly knew there weren’t anyone watchin’ him…except God. He figured that if God were interested enough to watch him, he’d better show some interest in return. Him and God had a talk. He came home changed.

I was skeptical of his God-talk, but couldn’t deny that I’d seen a difference. Figured God wasn’t much interested in me. Who’d He been watchin’ while I lost my home, sister, and Grandpa?

After lunch, I walked the farm beside Pa. He talked. Wouldn’t be long, the fishin’ crick was dried up.

Back home, Ma had grim news. The well was pert-near dry.

Supper was meager and silent, but for the baby’s coos.

At midnight, I gave up on sleep and headed for the porch. The family was already there.

The baby dozed on Grandma’s lap. Mama’s lips moved as she stitched. Pa sat on the bottom step—his head down, propped by one hand, elbow on knee.

Past-observing said they were praying. I leaned on the rail. All was still, even crickets. Dry, smothering heat—large, white moon.

Silent God.

I felt something needed to be said. If He had anything He wanted to say, it was time. Those moments were the one concession I would give—my heart was too hard.

I stared at that big ole moon and asked Him to do something. I didn’t know what—just do something.

I was unprepared for what happened next. The hard spot of loss in the middle of my chest began to move—like something was nudging it into motion. Don’t know how to describe it exactly. My feet moved into the dusty yard. My family stared in stunned surprise as I began to dance.

Slap, slap. My feet landed in the dirt, stirring it up. With each step, the pain-knot eased—until it let go and then I felt it—what Pa tried to tell me about. God was there. He heard. He knew.

Slap, slap, slap, my feet moved. My body moved. I raised my hands and tear-stained face skyward. Vaguely, I was aware of my family exclaiming, moving toward me, but all my attention was on Him, I felt His love.

We’ll never forget that day in ’38. The day God gave rain to our farm and our souls. To this day when it rains, I feel His love and remember what it felt like—to dance in the rain.

Plop, slosh, plop, sloosh.

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This article has been read 1248 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Rachel Dorsey04/14/11

I actually liked reading this. Very poignant and I liked the simple but vivid imagery in the story.

The ending was evocative- I could envision the woman dancing in the rain. I could relate to that feeling she had.
Ekua Bartlett-Mingle04/15/11
I love your story, the imagery is so poignant and the conclusion so liberating!
Helen Curtis04/15/11
Ohh, this is really good! What incredible imagery you have used, the descriptions are just beautiful. I love the concept of the story and the way you have told this. Really well done.
Mildred Sheldon04/15/11
I truly enjoyed your story. Very well written and a gripping story that pulled you in. Good job and keep writing.
diana kay04/16/11
great writing and i love the contrast between the dry dustiness and the innocence of the baby. Your use of words is so very descriptive.
Debra Hindman04/17/11
Impacting imagery! Love, love, loved reading this story. :)
Robert Johnson04/17/11
Excellent! I think I liked this one the best. Good job of describing that miracle of coming to know and understand who God is!!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/18/11
Wow, this was outstanding I felt like I was right there feeling the dust blowing. The characters and dialog were memorable and believable The accent was perfect. You did a good job with this well-written piece.
Debra Hindman04/20/11
I commented here a few days ago, and like visiting a friend who transports you to a special place and feeling in history, I found myself welling up with the memory and essence of your characters as I "socialized" on FB this morning, wanting to share this with friends! So, I came back for another visit.
Debra Hindman04/20/11
(con't) So, I came back for another visit, TO FEEL THE RAIN! :)
Verna Cole Mitchell 04/21/11
Truly awesome story--well deserving to sit atop the EC pile!
Amanda Brogan04/21/11
Congrats on your Editor's Choice! There's a lot here for a short story -- and like the characters, you can feel God's unconditional love and grace pouring down like a cleansing rain shower. Absolutely beautiful.
Carol Penhorwood 04/21/11
Drew me right in as if I were a part of this family. Well deserving of 1 st place!
Lillian Rhoades 04/21/11
Wonderful! Magnificent!Inspiring!
Congratulations on your EC.
Beth LaBuff 04/21/11
The emotion and longing grab the reader and won't let go until the end. This is wonderful. Congratulations on your level challenge win and your Editor's Choice award!
Sharlyn Guthrie04/21/11
Congratulations on your 1st place EC! This story is very deserving. I especially like that you avoided cliches and concentrated on what happened inside each person as God changed them.
Debra Hindman04/21/11
I am so happy this was EC's first choice. The rain, the characters, they warmed my heart and soul!
Mona Purvis04/21/11
Joanna, this piece is very special. Is it the story? Is it the telling/writing? yes and yes. Brilliant on all accounts. Makes the reader share in the event. Congrats on a very well-deserved win!
Gwen Plauche04/21/11
Congratulations on your well deserved win. I loved reading this. Thank you for sharing your work!
Eliza Evans 04/21/11
A wonderful story, very well written. Congratulations!! :)
diana kay04/22/11
well deserved to be top of level two AND!!!! FIRST PLACE in the editors choice !!!!!
up you go to advanced
Bonnie Bowden 04/29/11
This story was so touching and engaging. I felt like dancing in the rain, too. It was so well written.

Congratulations on your well deserved EC award!