This is a lesson I’m learning more and more. My writing group is a great example. Each month we write to a prompt. While some of our efforts are *ahem* unpolished, to be polite about it, I learn a lot about the different directions everyone takes the same thought.
This month’s prompt was “And the rains came.” Some people wrote light pieces of fiction, others wrote social commentary. One used the the prompt metaphorically, using the thought that rains come into everyone’s life. It’s a great exercise in looking at an idea in different ways.
I took inspiration from Death Valley’s Superbloom, and used the opportunity to show my setting, making it my protagonist. Enjoy!
The desert waited, the sand carved into furrows like ripples on a lake, now left solid in the baking heat. Bones of a reptile, long dead, now exposed, bleaching ever whiter under the relentless sun. Faint impressions in the sand bore testimony that other animals had died nearby, nothing left of them but dust. A dried snakeskin tumbled before a hot breeze.
The sand dunes towered overhead, their tops as sharp as if cut by a knife. Further in the distance, rocky mounds stood proud. Some retained their jagged peaks that pierced the sky. Others were losing the eternal battle with the wind, their uppermost rocks eroded, submitting to the inexorable forces of time.
A few wispy clouds looked down. They surveyed the dusty sand, the cracked earth, the struggling bushes with their sparse rattling leaves. A lone spider scurried from the shadow of one rock to the next. The desert rats and lizards cowered underground, sheltering from the sun.
Nothing grew, nothing moved. All was still, sere, and dead.
At least, that was the face the desert usually showed, the face it presented to the sun that leeched all the water out of every living thing under its glare.
The desert held a secret. It was waiting for the right moment. Once every ten or so years, the right moment arrived, allowing the desert to reveal a different face, one far different from dusty gray and gritty sand.
Patiently it waited, holding back. Generations of insects lived and died, never knowing what the desert hid.
And then the rains came.
First a downpour, a deluge that set off flash floods. Then a series of winter storms and chilly showers came, bringing rain that the thirst soil soaked up, refreshing itself in the brief respite before the rain clouds fled before the warming sun.
First one, then another plant ventured to seek the light. Tiny green sprigs raised timid heads, then gained boldness and sprouted tall. Within days color splashed across the dusty desert hills. Stripes of purple and orange gave way to yellows and greens, with patches of pink and gold. The bloom had come, holding sway over the desert for a brief moment, displaying the beauty the desert usually hid under its sandy waste.