I shouldn’t have tasted the raindrops. I shouldn’t have fallen onto the earth, mouth open, giggling like a girl. But I did. And the rain had tasted sweet as daydreams.
My mother had said it constantly when I was a child:
“Candice, don’t you open that mouth when the rain comes.”
But it rained so rarely that a long time passed since the fear melted into curiosity. And it had been even longer since my mother spoke. I was a grown woman, and women had nothing to say to one another.
When the sky turned purple and heavy, and the mothers pulled their kids into shelters, I stayed outside, alone amid the waterfall cascading from the ruptured sky.
Then the symptoms began. I thought it was my imagination, but the voices were persistent. Resonant sounds, like statues speaking into your ear. At first they only mused:
“That man, he licks his lips in thirst.”
“See there? An infant drinking from her mother’s breast.”
I nodded, afraid to do more or less. Then came the commands.
“See that fountain, Candice? Step into it and drink.”
Staring down at my shoes, hiding my flushed cheeks beneath a curtain of dark hair, I obeyed.
“She tasted rain water, children,” the mothers whispered.
“What shame she must feel.”
The cool water rose to my thighs. I gripped the stone structure and lifted my chin. As the water rushed into my mouth, I noticed that I did not feel shame.
At dawn, the voices sent me to suck the dewdrops off flower petals.
They willed me to climb trees and fill my mouth with juicy, purple berries. They had me kiss strangers till I could taste what they’d been drinking. Children pointed, and mothers tried to shield their little eyes.
The voices rumbled like thunder. I couldn’t make out the words now, but I knew what I needed. I couldn’t wait here.
I crossed my field and stopped by a wooden cabin that had once been my childhood. My mother sat on the porch, rocking in a creaky chair.
“Come with me,” I said. Her gray eyes widened. She hadn’t heard my voice since I was young. I thought she started rising, but she just fell back into the chair and swayed in place.
“Yes, I drank the rainwater. I disobeyed, but I don’t regret it.”
My mother shook her head slowly, as though it too would creak, and said nothing.
“What?” I demanded, “Tell me what you’re thinking.”
She was silent a long time, searching for her voice in some forgotten room.
“You’ll be thirsty forever, Candice.” Her voice had aged.
It had lost all of its melody.
“Yes,” I said, “I’m going to search for storms.”
“They will only make you thirstier,” she said.
“So I will keep drinking.”
She turned from me as though I were an unpleasant memory. I kissed her frail hand and looked out. The breeze carried the taste of salt. The horizon was endless.
"Searching For Storms"
Copyright: © 2010 Tania Luna