In another part of the world, the driest part, a god is on her knees. Long, long ago, when people still believed in witches, a woman with long silver hair and purple eyes taught a mother who then taught her mother who taught her mother who taught her mother how to listen to the earth. When you listen to the earth, that’s when magic can happen. She knows this. She also knows people don’t believe in witches anymore, but that doesn’t matter.
Everyone knows it’s hard to make someone who has been ignoring you for centuries pay attention to you again. It seems pointless to try, but it also seems pointless not to try, not when there has been nothing but drought for thirteen years. She is old enough to remember what it was like when it rained. When she was little, she hated the rain—it meant coldness, it meant having to stay inside, it meant not being able to walk to her father’s house because it was too muddy. But now, rain is all she wants. She dreams of rain pouring down all over her body. She dreams of hands rubbing the water down her legs, feeling the prickly hairs lay smooth against her skin.
The spirits are there. She knows this. But she also knows they don’t care about the earth anymore. Perhaps they feel abandoned, just as she does, or maybe it’s something else. Maybe all the humans and animals on earth just weren’t good enough, maybe they failed in some way. It doesn’t matter what the reason. She dug into the ground with her nails, feeling the dirt and sand get stuck underneath them. She dug and dug and dug until her body couldn’t anymore, until everything around her blurred and the horizon became a jagged, smoky edge—she stuck the vial inside the hole, the vial her mother told her to put there. It was supposed to help. She got up, dusted off her arms and heard a voice—she couldn’t tell where it came from—the sky or the ground or the dead vines around her—the voice said:
You are part of the problem.