This entry is part of the Blog Chain at Absolute Write. This month’s prompt was “rainy days.”
Jake let the bike fall, kicking a cloud of sand up about his ankles. He wanted to curse at the damned thing, to kick it as hard as he could, but Mom wouldn't want him acting that way in front of Dustin. So he just glared at it with clenched fists.
"Grandpa says staring at something don't fix it no faster," Dustin said.
"There ain't gonna be no fixing it this time, dummy. Motor's shot." Jake put a hand up to his brow and took a look at the sun. Lots of daylight left. "How much water you got?"
"Half a bottle still."
"Good. We're hoofing it the rest of the way. We can cut over the dunes, but it's still a long walk, so go easy on what you got." He shouldered the pack of supplies they were running back to town and led the way.
"Grandpa says water used to fall from the sky," Dustin said. "He says it came out of holes in the wall, whenever you wanted. People used to pour it all over themselves just because it felt good."
"Grandpa likes to tell stories. Don't pay 'em no mind. Water comes from tanks and bottles. And if I ever catch you pouring it on your head, it'll be a whooping."
The trudge home was made a little wearier by the fact that Jake knew he likely had a whooping of his own waiting. Mom expressly forbade taking Dustin along on supply runs. Figures the bike would break down the one time he'd actually caved in to the little brat's whining. She'd never believe he was at a friend's house this late. That kid would be the death of him.
His feet were just starting to ache when Dustin gave the end of his sleeve a yank. "Jake, look! A baby sand storm!"
He turned around to see a big red cloud of sand moving steadily toward them. When the wind died, he could hear the faint sound of an engine. Maybe this day would be whooping-free after all. "That ain't no storm, dummy. It's a truck. Come on, help me wave it down."
They jogged back onto the path and flailed their arms about until the old flatbed slowed and eased up next to them. The driver was a greasy-looking man with a wiry beard. "What are you kids doing out here on foot?" he said as he rolled the window down.
"Our bike's broke down, sir," Jake said. "If you're headed into town we'd sure appreciate a lift."
"You can ride in back, I suppose. If you got hoods on those rags, keep 'em down unless you want a nose full of sand."
That night, Jake went looking for Dustin to remind him to keep their little adventure in the dunes a secret. He found him up on the roof, huddled in a blanket, staring at the night sky.
"Hoping some magic water might fall out of the sky?" Jake asked.
"I'm just stargazing. Mom said I'm grounded in my room until tomorrow. She doesn't know I can get up here from my window though."
"Why'd she say that? You didn't tell her about the run, did you?"
"Nuh-uh. I told her I was at Jenna's. But she still got mad 'cause I'm supposed to call if I stay past five."
"Oh." He lay down and stole a tail of blanket. "Sorry you still got in trouble after all that."
"It's okay. It was worth it." He raised his arm toward the sky and pointed. "Jake, what's the name of that star? The blue one. You're smart about that stuff."
"That ain't actually a star. It's a planet. It's called Earth, I think."
"Grandpa showed it to me the other day. He said people used to live there."
Jake sighed and shook his head. "Like I said, Grandpa likes to tell stories."
Prompts do strange things to me sometimes. I don't know why a prompt about rainy days inspired a story about a Martian desert, but that's what I got. Check out the other bloggers participating in this chain to see what it did to them: