The ocean spread out calm and blue below, the sky calm and blue above. Clouds of white glided between, drifting softly with the wind.
Upon a cloud small and thick lay a child, a boy of four or five. His hair was golden, his limbs fine and smooth, his cheeks rosy. He stirred in his sleep, the cloud-stuff holding him as he twisted. An expression of pain flitted upon the innocent face, then disappeared. Soon, he blinked his eyes open, raising a hand to dim the sun. He sat up and looked about, his blue eyes flashing with delight at the sea below and the sky above.
“Mom!” he called. He stood uncertainly on the buoyant surface of the cloud. “Mom!”He clamored over the rising mound of cloud behind him, searching for her, but the cloud was small and he did not find her. The smile upon his face dimmed. He collapsed in a heap, his lip trembling, but he did not cry. He shook his head, telling himself to be strong, and stood again, climbing resolutely to the summit of his little cloud. He perched there like a gargoyle upon a steeple, his expression solemn, and gazed in every direction. Many other clouds larger than his own drifted in the same breeze, and she might be on one of these.
Fully awake, his mind brimming with fearful thoughts, he began to remember.
The mountain had shook with fire and smoke. His grandfather had been very angry, and so the boy had hid in his room, pretending to sleep. The ground had groaned beneath him. It had lasted a long time, longer than he had ever before known.
The memory became clearer as he looked over the space between sky and sea, between heaven and earth, as if a fog were lifting in his brain or the horizon of his thoughts drawing closer.
His mother had come into his room, and he had sat up, silently waiting for her to speak. She stared into his face, her hands gripping his too tightly. She had been unable to speak.
“What is it, mom?”
“I—” She took him in her arms and squeezed him. He began to cry, but he tried to hide it.
“Don’t cry,” she said, hushing him softly. “Twilight has come for us, but don’t cry, not yet. You must give men a gift.” She wiped his cheeks with her long fingers, tears brimming in her own eyes. “Grandfather has—your father is dead, and his body has been tossed into the sea. Now men can no longer drink of it. The water of the earth is bitter with Grandfather’s anger. But you—”
She pressed her face against his shoulder and trembled. She rose to her feet, carrying him in her arms, and moved swiftly out of the room.
“What must I do?” he asked quietly, whispering in her ear as she hurried from the house of marble and gold. The air was black with Grandfather’s wrath.
She did not answer but descended the mountain that was their sanctuary, passing down steps that led into the clime of men.
“What must I do?” he asked again. All of their kind had duties. With father gone….
She stopped, on the border of that strange land below. “Remember me.” She held him before her, weeping now. “Remember me.” And she caused him to sleep.
Upon the cloud, the fair-haired boy sat, filled with memory. “Mom?” he said again. “Mom?”She was not there. “Mommy!” he screamed. His voice roared through heaven and earth. “Mommy!”
And so it was that rain fell upon the earth to nourish mankind.