Annie’s grandmother knows old secrets, and Annie is strong and smart. Together, they keep the family safe through the drought. Then bigger trouble comes to their city, and Annie will need more than quick thinking if they are going to survive. Can Annie learn Grandma’s secrets in time?
Clouds rolled in, white and puffy in the winter blue sky, but there was no moisture in the air, or in the sand beneath Annie’s bare feet.
“Rain?” Annie asked hopefully, and Grandma shook her head and looked sad.
Annie knew why. Without the potatoes and beans from the garden, without the lupins and sunflower seeds, all they’d have to live on would be gruel. There’d been no rain for months, even though the days were short and the nights cold, and it was nearly time for the summer to come back.
“Gruel will make us sick,” Annie said. “Will the government make rain?”
Grandma swore, something vicious and rude, under her breath. Annie was made sure to remember the word, because it was a new word and Annie collected those words.
They stood, studying the empty clouds over their heads while the chickens fought over the scraps, and even in the middle of winter the sun still hurt Annie’s bare arms.
“What did you use to do to make rain?” Annie asked Grandma. “Before?” Grandma knew things that everyone else had forgotten, and she didn’t go to church. “Is there magic?”
Annie had to whisper that, because Mum was a Believer, and she’d shout or pray or something if she thought Annie knew about magic.
The rainwater tank leaned against the back wall of the house. Grandma shuffled over and whacked it with her cane. The metal drum rang loudly.
“There’s magic,” Grandma said.
Jack Bridges is a writer and academic who lives in Perth, Western Australia, and works at a small university teaching students the basics of research methodology. He sometimes hides in a shack in the forest and makes complex plans for surviving environmental apocalypses.
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