I am honored to be nominated by Postcard, Poems & Prose for Best of the Net 2018 for my flash fiction piece, If it Rains. This zine packs a punch in every post.
IF IT RAINS
Poppa snaps off a wheat stalk, brittle and broken. He digs the toe of his boot through the octagon clumps of topsoil looking for life below the surface, a shred of moisture, a supple root. The plant upends, clinging to the soil in a fruitless effort to stay alive.
“If it rains, we’ll be able to save this crop.”
My lips are always chapped, and the area around my eyes not covered by cloth are blistered and cracked by the relentless blast of grit. The cloth over my mouth cakes up faster than I can shake it out, but Momma says I have to wear it. More than anything I hate the crunch in my mouth. No amount of water seems to rinse it out.
Poppa squats and scoops up a handful of soil. It filters through his fingers as dead as the light in his eyes. Neither contained hope, but he says the words for me.
“If it rains, we’ll be able to pull out of this next year.”
We eat the rabbits. There’re plenty of them. Our cows all died in the last black blizzard. Poppa says they couldn’t breathe, and it breaks my heart to think of sweet old Nelly dying in the darkness, her nose filled with mud. It’s probably for the best since there’s been no grain for weeks. My legs are ripped up good from trampling down the tumbleweeds for them to eat.
“If it rains, Lord willing, the bank will let it ride.”
Poppa fills baby June’s grave. She didn’t stand a chance against the cloud of sand filling her lungs. Seems like she went from a cough to a shoebox in the ground practically overnight. They call it dust pneumonia, and it hits the young ones the hardest.
I wait for Poppa to say his line, but the drought has taken away even his tears. The land has defeated him.