There was a girl who could make it rain. Outside, inside. We knew she was different on the day of her birth, when the maternity floor of the hospital flooded. Clouds formed on the ceiling and rained down on hospital beds and nurses and new mothers. No one was injured.
It was as if her tears pulled at the heartstrings of the angels. Some of us thought she was blessed. Others feared she was possessed, and brought danger upon the town. We agreed, however, that it would be best if we left her alone.
The Raingirl grew up normally, attending the local elementary—that is, until a boy cut off one of her braids and her tears caused damage to the floor, and school was dismissed until they could find a better place to hold it. Her mother was only twenty when the girl was born, and her father nowhere to be found, but she was happy. At least, she was happy most of the time. We all knew when she wasn’t.
We sometimes wondered, amongst ourselves, whether she knew that she was special. If she did what she did on purpose or because she had no choice. Maybe it was who she was, her nature. Not everyone can suppress who they are.
The Raingirl grew into a shy teenager with long white hair, bangs bluntly cut across her eyebrows. She had a pale complexion, but beautiful, startling blue eyes that seemed to see straight through us. We knew that she knew us better than anyone, but no one seemed afraid of her sharing our secrets. She was ours and, well, we were hers.
Sometimes we speculated whether our town flourished because she was there or because she wanted it to. Every spring, gardens burst forth weeks sooner than any of the neighboring towns’, our abundant and beautiful fruits meant that our market was the most popular in the region. Customers came from miles around to get a taste of our squash and our watermelon.
Winters held the kind of wonderland we’d only dreamed about as children.
The air was still, the ice remained on the lakes and not the roads, but the snow piled up in billowy heaps in yards, on hills, over woods. Children burst out of their houses the moment the radios announced a snow day and made for their sleds and buckets. The streets were filled with the sounds of laughter and shouting and flying snowballs.
We noticed, after a few years, that the Raingirl was never among them. Sometimes we’d see her perched on the roof of her mother’s house, letting the flakes collect and disappear into her hair and staring into the sky with a dreamy smile on her face.
She was sixteen when the riots began. A group of men and women from the neighboring towns collected on the outskirts, insisting that the Raingirl was the reason for their hard times. The rest of the region was going through a draught, but it had never touched us. Our gardens looked as they always had, bright and heavy with food.
The police got involved, but not soon enough. Someone torched the house where the Raingirl and her mother lived. No one was injured, but the pair, distraught and soaked from the storm that followed, were homeless, and the riots only got angrier. And sneakier.
The Raingirl and her mother lived in the firehouse, because there was always someone to protect them there. The Raingirl, we learned from the firemen, fell in love with the trucks and the suits and the hoses. She made her first friends in the men and women who spent their lives saving people with water. And the firemen accepted her happily, telling her that one day, she’d join them. One day, she’d be a hero, too.
There was speculation that one of the men had fallen in love with the Raingirl’s mother, and that she spent nearly every evening sitting in the firehouse yard, sharing picnics and kisses with him. They could have been happy. They should have been happy.
On a particularly dry August night, three men snuck into the firehouse through the garages. No one saw them until afterwards. We often wonder whether we could have stopped them, if we had been more diligent.
They set the firehouse aflame. What happened next could only be cobbled together from the stories of many different people. The rain started after long minutes, picked up into a great, shrieking storm. The wind whipped at the trees, tore shingles from the houses. The rain battered at our windows, demanding entrance. Trees shook to their roots, shingles and fence pickets and string lights tore from their places.
The flames were doused, and all was still.
According to the police reports, there was one woman injured in the fire, and one missing child. It was assumed that the fire killed her, and left her mother with a burn up her arm and with small facial scars that would remain for the rest of her life.
According to the whispers among the townspeople and the unusually quiet firemen, it wasn’t the fire that made the Raingirl disappear. They say it was her choice, when she saw her mother hurting. They say she knew it was her fault, and she made sure no one would be hurt because of her again.
It has been five years since then, and we still talk about our Raingirl. Of course we do.
Her mother is just married to the fireman, and the town is like any other town again, with the exception of our better-than-average crops.
But we miss her. Sometimes, on rainy nights or snow-heavy days, it is said that she can be seen on top of the new house where her mother now lives, sparkling eyes to the sky, smiling that distant smile.
And sometimes, when a home is on fire and the flames outnumber the firemen, an unexpected storm will roll in, a gift, they say, from our Raingirl.