Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: rain (10/17/05)
TITLE: The First Rain
By Shannah Hogue
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“Who told you about ‘rain,’ Jeremiah?” Reuben smiled at his son. He was seventy, but had few lines on his face, and his hair was just beginning to gray.
“A man in the market said that ‘rain’ was coming very soon, but everybody started laughing, and he left. Who was he, and what is ‘rain’?”
Jeremiah plopped down beside his father. The other boys hadn’t been interested in the man’s ideas, but Jeremiah was. The man had looked so confident of his prediction.
“Well, according to Noah, rain is water falling from the skies in drops.”
“Water from the sky? But why would it do that?”
“I have no idea, Jeremiah. It’s never happened before, not in all my life.”
“Nor in mine!” Jeremiah hadn’t seen his grandfather, Jerah, sitting nearby. He was nearly 130 years old, his graying hair framing a strong face and clear, sharp eyes.
“Noah has talked about ‘rain’ since I was a boy, and it has never happened. We’ve been telling him for years that he’s crazy, but he just keeps building that boat. Says that God told him about it!”
“Noah said that God was going to punish the earth with rain, Papa. What did he mean?”
Jerah spoke up, “Noah has been declaring the end of the earth for many, many years. He says that God is unhappy with our wickedness. But we haven’t seen any punishment come yet, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it.”
Jeremiah’s face fell. Seeing his disappointment, Reuben smiled. “Would you like to go see Noah’s boat?”
They walked briskly in the early afternoon sunshine. The air was sweet with a light wind from the west. Jeremiah chatted happily as they walked, basking in the attention and thrilled by the adventure the day had provided.
Nearing the top of a valley, they heard strange sounds floating through the air. Cresting the hill, both stopped in amazement. The valley was filled with animals. The boat was finished, and Noah and his sons were moving all kinds of animals inside. They wandered down the hill, and moved toward the boat. The man from the market was standing near them, his back towards them. He shouted something to a younger man and spotted the pair who had stopped nearby.
“Reuben! Welcome!” Jeremiah liked his kind eyes. The man was much older than his grandfather, but he moved with an easy stride. “Is this your son?”
“Yes. This is Jeremiah. He wanted to see your boat.”
“Well, what do you think, then, Jeremiah?”
“It’s huge! And all the animals…are they all going inside?”
“Yes, they all are. Will you and your family be joining us, Reuben?”
Reuben, who had been staring at a pair of large grey animals, was startled by the question. “What? Oh…certainly not, Noah. I’ve told you many times, as has my father, that we have no interest in your ‘end of the world’ predictions. I see you’re busy; we should go. We’ll see you in the market sometime.”
Noah nodded. “I see. Well, it was nice to meet you, Jeremiah.”
Jeremiah smiled at the old man who suddenly looked very sad. His father took his hand and turned to go. At the top of the hill, they stopped and looked across the valley. The animals were moving easily into the boat; before long it would be loaded.
“That door is massive; I wonder who will close it when they’re all inside,” Rueben mused aloud. Then he laughed. “The real problem is who will open it back up after a few days when this rain never comes!” He laughed again and turned toward home. “Come on, son!”
Jeremiah hesitated for a moment. For a second, he thought the old man was still looking at them. But then he turned back to his animals, and Jeremiah slowly followed his father.
By the time they got home it was almost evening. Reuben went inside quickly, but Jeremiah stayed outside, thinking about that old man. Could he be right? Jeremiah looked up at the sky for a moment, waiting expectantly. Nothing happened, so he turned to go in…just as the first drops of rain hit the ground.
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