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It is our nature to be more moved by hope than fear
-
Francesco Guicciardini

When the storm came, it came swiftly and stealthily on the tail of night, greeting him when he awoke, in place of the sun. Usually, Hamish liked summer storms – but this one was different.
It looked different, sounded different, smelt different.
The clouds were black, tumbling across the sky in a tumult of haste; the thunder was deeper, and seemed to shake the very earth itself; the lightening was thicker, snapping across the sky like elastic; and the smell…
The storm smelt of fury and sweat, raw and dangerous.
And for the first time that he could remember, he was afraid of it.
The fear thrilled him just a little.

"Come away from the window, my love," his mother called from the doorway, his little sister gathered in her sure arms.

Hamish blinked, not able to take his eyes off the growing menace.
It was strange; the clouds stretched as far as the empty horizon in every direction, and yet, it did not rain.

"Hamish."

His mother tugged at his hand, and he found himself pulled from the windowsill.

"Down into the storm cellar, my love," she spoke now, voice low with urgency.

"Where's Da?"

"Making sure the animals are safe," his mother murmured, holding open the cellar door. "Come, my love."

It was only when the family was gathered together in this cool, dark place that his mother seemed to relax. For his part, Hamish would have much preferred to remain by the window, to watch the mysterious, swelling storm. Anything would have been better than sitting beside his squalling sister, surrounded by three sheep, a goat and a horse. The goat's breath stunk as it lunged and grabbed Hamish's blanket between vindictive teeth, managing to bite Hamish' leg in the process. A dog, it was too dark to see which, rested his head on Hamish's lap, and the boy scratched the dog's ears absently.

"Mama, why won't it rain? It should rain. A storm should rain."

But his mother didn't hear him. His parents spoke in low, urgent voices across the cellar, so quietly that Hamish could not hear about the murmurs of the animals. His father had been forced to set the cattle loose, opening all the gates in preparation for Whatever Was Going To Happen. The cattle would not fit in the cellar, although somewhere in the corner, the youngest calf snorted softly on a bed of hay.

The air was full of a pregnant silence, now, and even the animals paused to listen. The dog lifted his head from Hamish's lap, his sister quietened, and his father stared at the cellar door apprehensively.

And then came the noise.

The noise was a deafening roar, splintering their home and scaring the cattle. Hamish hoped they had the sense to run. The dogs were howling now, his little sister crying. Hamish pressed his palms to his ears in an effort to silence the pounding in his head, only to discover the pounding grew louder. Hamish realised it was his own heart.

- - -

When the storm was over, Da unlocked the cellar doors and gently eased them open. The world was flooded with something raw and blinding white; it took a moment for his eyes to adjust, but suddenly Hamish recognised the sun. The sky was washed clear and blue from horizon to horizon, and all seemed calm. Hamish blinked, puzzled, as he stared at the matchstick pieces of his home.

Mama emerged from the cellar with Rosie in her arms. She pulled her son tightly against her side as her husband cleared a path through the wreckage. Her eyes were sharp and calculating; already, she was making plans for their New Start.

Hamish stared at his broken world sadly. The earth was red dust, as ever.
There had been no rain, not this time.

But he'd wait.


Note: Just a little something I had sitting in a notebook... Feedback is appreciated!