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Rain Dance

Emma Aldous

Isobelle Carmody Award

for Creative Writing


It’s all he everwanted, to see her dance in the rain. To see the townsfolk

fling back their heads and let the cool water caress their dry lips. He

wanted to teach the children to swim, to see his daughter take her

first stroke, arms flailing while her golden skin soaked up the soft

morning rays.

For as long as she could remember, Elizabeth Parker had not seen

rain. It hadn’t rained since she was four, at least her Papa said so, but

she couldn’t remember all the way back then. She had often

wondered if rain was just a myth her Papa told around the campfire

in the dead of night. Perhaps it was just a word he had constructed

to explain absence. Absence of hope, absence of community, absence

of life. Or perhaps rain had become extinct, a past phenomena.

However many theories Lizzy created, she couldn’t explain why she

longed to feel a raindrop roll down the bridge of her nose before

falling to the cracked ground in an explosion of new life. Papa said

the rain would come again, and she believed him, because Papa

always told the truth.

Her Papa’s name was Johnny. He was the mayor of the small town

of Abercourt in the deep, dry Northern Territory. Abercourt was a

farming town, or at least it used to be. When Johnny was appointed

the role of mayor, the town had been booming. They grew sorghum

and drove cattle along the vast rolling plains. The drought started

with one very dry summer. That summer the farmers’ crops didn’t

grow. With no crops they had no money, but the mayor kept hopes

high. Come autumn, still not a single drop of liquid optimism fell

from the sky. Mother Nature had given the farmers an ultimatum:

find a new job or move out. Most of the farmers took the latter

option and left. When people began to move away Johnny would

beg them to stay, but now he said nothing.

When summer came again it still hadn’t rained. Each blade of

fresh green grass was now just a yellow stump, chomped to its roots

by the skeleton cows. The creeks had dried up, leaving bridges with

no purpose, and Abercourt with no water. They got their drinking

water sent in trucks from Darwin. Johnny always shared it evenly,

making sure there was enough for everyone.

As water began to evaporate so did the twinkle in Johnny’s eye.

He used to get the whole town together on a Friday night, and tell

stories around the campfire. After everyone had spoken to their