The Rains in Sest
By Dorothy Hutchinson
Date: March 31, 2016
Ch. 44

The three of them finally filed into the front seat of the buggy, with Clare sitting in the middle. Tommy nudged Dancer into a walk toward the outskirts of town.
“So, are the two of you engaged yet?” Clare asked.
Tommy turned and gawked at her.
Clare smiled. “Thought so.”
“What makes you think we’re engaged?” Tommy asked.
“You two lovebirds can’t even sit five feet from each other without your bodies screaming in agony from the separation, and you’re surprised that anyone notices?”
“What are you talking about, our bodies screaming in agony?” Tommy asked.
“I see it in your auras.”
“What’s an aura?” Tommy asked.
Karen put her hand over Clare’s mouth and whispered to her, “Dangerous talk, especially in this town. Stakes burning. Understand?”
Clare nodded, looking frightened, and Karen pulled her hand back.
“Can I talk about it after we get out of town?” Clare asked.
Karen hesitated before answering. “Alright. But be careful.”
Karen pulled out her rain parka from her bag and handed it to Clare. “The buggy top isn’t sufficient for keeping you dry during a cloudburst; rain will splash in from the sides.”
Clare put on the parka. “I’ve heard the joke about how it rains in Sest and how incest reigns in Sest.”
Karen sighed. “Just because most of Sest Province is sparsely populated, it doesn’t mean incest reigns here. In fact, I’ve never heard of any actual cases. I haven’t been to Sest City, but you have; have you hear of any cases of incest there?”
“No need to get defensive, Karen. I just said I’d heard the joke, not that I believed it. And besides, it’s just a play on words—I doubt anyone actually believes it. Is it going to start raining soon?”
“Any second now,” Karen said.
As though on cue, a loud crack of thunder sounded overhead, and the rain started coming down in buckets. Even Tommy was startled by the swiftness and intensity of it.
Clare looked thunderstruck, and she clung desperately to Karen. Karen spoke to her soothingly, though he couldn’t pick up what she said through the noise of the rain.
A few minutes later, the cloudburst ended as quickly as it had begun.
It took a couple more minutes for Clare to stop shaking. “Holy crap, is there anything else like that here?”
Tommy chuckled. “Well, watch out when you’re milking cows. If you aren’t careful, sometimes the milk squirts in your eyes.”
“Am I really going to have to milk cows?” Clare asked, scrunching her face up.
“Only if you want to,” Karen said. “You can watch me milk and then decide whether you want to try it… I’m sorry I didn’t warn you about cloudbursts. I assumed that, since you’d been to Sest City, you already knew about cloudbursts.”
Clare shook her head. “There weren’t any when I was there, and nobody mentioned them.”
“Well, maybe there aren’t any there,” Karen said. “Sest City is at the far end of the province; and, being in the mountains, it probably has a different weather system from here. I’ve never been anywhere near that end of the province, so I don’t know.”
“I don’t understand how it can start raining so hard in an instant like that,” Clare said. “It’s like a horse going instantly from standing to a full gallop.”
Karen whispered in her ear, but Tommy caught it anyway. “Kinda’ like Tommy.”
Clare giggled.
“What are you two giggling about?”
“Nothing, Tommy,” Karen said.
They passed the last house at the outskirts of town, and Clare started explaining things to Tommy. “An aura is an electrical field—”
Tommy broke in. “What’s ‘electrical’ mean?”
“The word ‘electrical’ pertains to electricity, which is energy derived from the atmosphere, sometimes condensed in lightning. Clairvoyants like myself can see this electrical energy when it’s condensed in a person’s energy field, which is called an aura.”
Tommy didn’t have a clue what she was talking about. “What language are you speaking?”
Clare chuckled. “Anyway, wizards are able to harness this electrical energy and use it in their magic.”
“You believe in magic?” Tommy asked.
Clare snorted. “After that cloudburst, you still wonder whether magic exists?”
Tommy shrugged. “Cloudbursts happen all the time here.”
“And magic happens all the time in other places. I can even—”
Karen broke in. “The Code.”
Clare brought her fingers to her lips. “Oops.”
Great. More secrets. “Nobody throws a spell to make cloudbursts, so they ain’t magic.”
Clare raised an eyebrow. “Ain’t? And you wonder what language I’m speaking?”
Tommy ignored the little snot. He turned to Karen. “Do you believe in magic?”
Karen smiled. “Come on, Tommy. Haven’t you felt the magic you and I generate when we’re together?”
“Seriously, do you believe in magic and wizards?”
Karen cleared her throat. “All I can say is that, in my visits to Clare’s, I’ve spent extensive time with her and her tutors.”
“And one of them is a wizard?”
Karen didn’t answer him. She seemed to be making a habit of that lately.
“So that’s why you spend so much time visiting Clare,” he said.
Karen put her arm around Clare. “I go there because I love Clare dearly.”
Tommy realized Karen might not be putting his arm around him any time soon, and he wasn’t exactly happy about it.
Clare turned to Karen. “So, since you love me so much, are you taking me with you on your elopement?”
Tommy shot Karen a look, but she seemed as confused as he was. How on earth had Clare figured it out?
“Elopement?” Karen asked.
“Come on. You two were so tense after I mentioned your engagement; obviously no one else is supposed to know about this. I hope you’ll at least wait until I’m gone before you take off. But I’d love to go with you.”
Tommy cringed. “Wouldn’t you miss your parents, Clare? And don’t you think they’d miss you?”
Clare snorted. “No, but I’m sure they’d miss collecting their money for me.”
Karen frowned. “What are you talking about?”
“My so-called parents hardly ever work, yet they somehow manage to afford exotic foods and a nanny and the best tutors for me. How do you think they manage that?”
“Their inheritance, as you well know,” Karen said.
“I checked into their inheritance, and it’s a farce. Both my sets of supposed grandparents were poor.”
“Are you certain?”
“Quite. My supposed paternal grandfather, the one the inheritance was supposed to have come from, worked in a textile sweatshop all his life.”
Karen’s face looked a bit gray. “Maybe your parents are involved in something illegal.”
“Doubt it. I don’t think they have the nerve or the ambition for any kind of scheme.”
“Maybe they’re black-mailing somebody,” Karen said.
“Anybody rich enough to give them all that money for years is rich enough to afford a hitman.”
Tommy found it disturbing that a fourteen-year-old could be thinking such thoughts.
“I’m sure you have a theory,” Karen said. “Let’s have it.”
“I don’t resemble my so-called parents in the least, and I could be a mouse in the corner for all they care. I think I was born to rich people who farmed me out.”
“Why would someone farm you out?”

Font size
Font color
Line spacing
Background color