Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Chubasco, or The Storm That Never Came (fiction excerpt)

As the sun rises over the mountains to the east, the sky above her darkens. Clouds from the south and west take over the horizon as a tropical storm makes its way over the desert.

Some call the coming rain a chubasco, or big monsoon, usually fueled by a Pacific hurricane or tropical storm. These storms can bring five or more inches of rain -- half of what the desert normally gets in a year -- over a single day.

Too much of a good thing will mean erosion, muddy washes, and dangerous flash floods.

She will spend the day walking between classes at the university with storms in her head to match the one moving in.

Her storm is an old one. It's more a rain of words than water and goes way back.

The darkness matches her mood as she makes her way across campus. It gathers in the corners of unfinished business in the alleys and niches of her mind. What if they discover what she has done? The migrants she ferried to Tucson in the middle of the night along that four-wheel-drive track out by Arivaca, lights off, undiscovered by Border Patrol, might talk if they are detained.

That's the chance she agreed to take when she started this business, the voluntary defiance of law. And she, so law abiding, has always felt a sting of betrayal. And the boyfriend who wanted no part in it, who left her, what about him?

She feels a stab of regret, of fear, but marches ahead to the next class, unable to share the secret demons in her mind.

All that has been left undone, unsaid, unearthed reaches out a beggar's hand.

She hopes that the rain washes away the mud of summer, that it rinses and cleans the air.

What she does not know is that the storm won't arrive, that she will be left without distraction from the insistent voices. They will persist and she will carry them with her while she navigates her day.

Where is the rain? Where is the release from the heat of summer?

She knows that she will have to return, that there are more who need her help.

It would be so nice, though, she thinks, to just have a few moments of relief. 

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