Four years ago after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, I wrote this fiction story about a girl who had never felt the rain, living in a post-apocalyptic underground where people occupied themselves primarily in a virtual world.
Then this morning I read a true story about a child who, because of California’s drought, had never felt the rain. I was astounded. When I wrote the story, I had no idea that its poignant backstory of a child who had never felt the rain, would come true –so soon, in my life, and in the place that I call home.
She Has Never Felt the Rain
by Bay Sweetwater
The old man beckons her to come forward, the small girl twirling her hair and holding onto her mother’s hand a dozen or so spaces behind him in the line. She points her tiny finger at her chest and mouths “me?” in disbelief. Her eyes are wide; she chews her lower lip. He nods. The girl takes a quick breath and turns questioning eyes to her mother. “Go ahead, then,” the mother says. “You know Mr. Sanders. Maybe you’ll get your chance today.”
The pale redheaded four-year-old runs up to the old man, the way she runs no matter where she goes, too full of hope and eagerness to waste time walking. She balls her fish against her mouth, standing on one leg, her other leg bent slightly with her foot nervously tapping the ground behind her, and gazes up at him.
The old man smiles and holds his ticket out to her, then bends down and whispers into her ear, “Tell me all about it tomorrow, huh?” She shakes her head up and down, too excited to speak. The man turns to me as I consult the roster for today. “She has never felt the rain,” he explains. I nod. He steps out of the line.