Keeping with the previous October posts, I thought I’d make a month of it and provide you with a sneak peek into Foe Be Us : Phobias Book 2, a collection of short stories (to be released at a later date), based on your darkest fears. Like Ombrophobia, the fear of rain.
Hannah and her grandmother walked along the sidewalk, arms laden with canvas sacks of cookie making supplies. The sky on the way to the A&P had been overcast and merely hinted of rain. The sky on the way home was heavy with threatening, black clouds.
The wind picked up, whirling twelve-year-old Hannah’s skirt, the one her grandma had sewn and her mother had insisted she wear for today’s visit. She scrunched it to her sides, fisting great handfuls of fabric as the bags hung awkwardly from each wrist. Sacks of sugar and flour knocked off her pumping knees as she silently cursed a great many things.
“Hannah, put your hood up,” Grandma Helen said, quickening her step as the first fat droplets began to fall.
Hannah released her skirt, slipped both totes onto her left arm and tugged the hood of her sweater over her head with the free hand. She hated being outside when it stormed. It grossed her out. The whole idea of a “cleansing rain” was disgusting. Basically, she was getting bombarded with the atmosphere’s bath water. She shivered with revulsion as a drip splashed her cheek.
Spots the size of quarters darkened the cement path. Grandma Helen adjusted her grocery sack and pointed at the ground. “Look, honey! A penny!” When Hannah did not pick it up, Helen said, “Find a penny, pick it up…”
Hannah rolled her eyes, “Gramma, it’s a penny.”
“All day long you’ll have good luck!” her grandma finished with a smile, the sprinkles audibly pelting her clear plastic hat.
Realizing they weren’t going to continue without retrieving the pittance, Hannah dipped with a great flourish and matching sigh, and picked up the penny. “Here,” she said, pinching it as if it had cooties. “Happy now?”
Her grandma chuckled and palmed the coin.
The rain came down faster and harder.
“Come on, dear, we need to get home before the sky really opens!”
Hannah hunched and groaned then picked up her pace, ducking and dodging in a fruitless effort to not get saturated with the earth’s backwash.
“It’s just rain,” Helen chortled. “You won’t melt.”
“Ugh,” she said, voice muffled by the sweater, “I hate the rain!”
Grandma Helen began to sing about pennies from heaven. She paused at a stanza break, perhaps awaiting a singing partner.
A duet was not to be.
When she got to the line about hearing it thunder, a mighty roar rolled loudly and finished with a sharp crack, interrupting the song and causing the girls to jump. Helen laughed, “Perfect!” she said and resumed her song. The rhythm of the rain drowned out most of the words. “Pennies from heaven—” Hannah’s grandmother belted through the downpour.
A resounding clank halted her chorus. Followed by another and another.
“Oh my! Look at that,” Helen shouted over the din of pounding rain. “It’s pennies!” She paused her granny-dash to get out of the rain and bent slowly to the ground to examine these gifts from the weather gods.
Interest turned to shock with the first, “Ow!”
Hannah rubbed her left shoulder, then her right, her bags swinging wildly. She looked up at the sky and a handful of pennies bounced painfully off her face.
A crazy bolt of white lightning shot across the sky as another crash of thunder reverberated through the air followed by a deluge of plummeting copper. The coins jumped and bounced on the sidewalk, rolling into the gutter with the sudden downpour.
Helen’s tote dropped with a clank and shatter of bottles and the quickly diluted aroma of vanilla wafted in the wet air. “Run!” she cried. Bleeding from head wounds, the rain hat proving to be no protection from the solid surge from the sky. The clear plastic held the blood in, tinting her normally gray-blue hair a lovely shade of mauve.
Hannah released her bags, the flour sack erupting in a puff of white mist that didn’t stand a chance against the wet metallic downpour, and raised her hands to protect her head from the pummeling pennies.
The coins’ speed and trajectory sliced skin and embedded in scalp and flesh.
The hair on their bodies was raised and wavering in response to the plated-zinc weather front as they ran full force against the gale of water and coinage. The walk was slippery, wet with rain and thick with layers of currency; the grass offered no better traction. Hannah skidded to her knees and thanked her Grandma’s excessive sense of fabric use for saving her from pocket change impaled knees.
More metal than water was falling now. Hannah turned to see how far behind her grandmother was and caught a hurling penny down the side of her face. Flesh began peeling away from the corner of her eye straight down to her jawline. She slapped a hand to her cheek, crying out in pain.
“Hannah,” her grandmother shouted against the din, “up there—.” As she pointed to a sheltered front porch about fifteen feet further, her limb was severed mid-forearm by a sluicing of coins. The old woman’s hand fell to the flooded sidewalk with a smacking splat, splayed fingers revealing the lucky penny.
This short story was inspired by a Prompt Club assignment to write a story based on song lyrics. As you probably know, that’s tricky business because of copyright laws. I wanted to write a horror story based on the very optimistic song, “Pennies from Heaven”, but could only infer the lyrics. Titles cannot be copyrighted.
Get it? Climate CHANGE! LOL
(Certainly NOT harmless. Just ask Helen and Hannah.)