Refugees from a drought that destroyed their homeland, Lesedi and her family settled in a new land with a whole new climate. Lesedi struggled to find her place not only in this new society but also in her family’s weather magic. One rainy day brought Lesedi despair and hope that she never expected to find.
Bringing the Rains is a poignant fantasy short story about gender identity and finding one’s path when everything changes.
Bringing the Rains
By Meyari McFarland
Black speckled with red, gold, green and blue in vivid stripes that zigzagged down the length of the cloth; Lesedi bit her lip until blood bloomed in her mouth as she ran her fingers through the precious stash of drapey soft fabric from Before. Before the rain stopped. Before their fields dried up, consumed by the sands. Before they’d been forced to flee to a new home in a too-wet country by the sea.
None of the fabric would do. Too dark with a black background, too bold with the lightning stripes. The one swathe of pale yellow and cream had been Masego’s swaddling cloth and that was too small. Lesedi couldn’t use that even if it felt perfect. There had to be something that would work in their stash of fabric.
Their little house, round to catch the God’s power raining down, short not to offend the spirits of the land, was cold, so very cold. Rain battered against the roof as if it wanted to wash Lesedi’s fears away in a flood of cold, harsh droplets that purified through everything except for her flawed soul. Grandmother Sethunya hummed as she carefully cut into one of the other pieces of fabric, chopping the warp and weft as casually as a woodsman chopped a tree down here. Mother Refilwe grumbled under her breath at the sacrilege of actually cutting fabric as she worked to weave a new piece of fabric from the thick wool thread that Masego had bought from their closest neighbor.
Wool. It wasn’t the wool that Lesedi knew, spun fine and thin, delicate as a spider’s web. This was thick, rough scratchy thread that would trap heat next to the body instead of letting it slip away into the slowly rising air, carrying your sweat up to the sky to join the clouds overhead. Lesedi shivered, her hands clenching in the green and blue striped fabric. Warmth, keeping it close, hoarding it against your skin against the cold rain and frigid wind that blew off the ocean made more sense in this new land, this new place with the people that had taken them in and given them homes.
“Do you want that one?” Grandmother Sethunya asked. “It would look lovely on you.”
“No,” Lesedi said. “It’s not right. I need something lighter.”
Silence echoed through their little house. Women didn’t wear pale colors. Men did. Women wore bright red and gold, blue and green, to attract the spirits and entice them to give aid to the family’s spells. Men, magicless beings destined for fighting battles and hauling loads rather than bringing the rains, wore pale yellow, cream, light tan.
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