In celebration of our community contest, I have decided to write a story. (Obviously, I'm not entering the contest.)
Each story submitted to the contest should be based on one of 50 loglines. A logline is a " one-sentence brief of what a story is about — characters, scenario and conflict". You can find the 50 loglines here.
The logline I've chose as inspiration for my story is:
As grapes shrivel in the sun in the worst heat and drought Italy has ever seen, an enterprising farmer invents a way to make rain, never suspecting the sequence of terrible events that will ensue from toying with nature’s already upset balance
The Natural History of Giuseppe Cavallo
Giuseppe Cavallo lived a solitary life. There was not even one person who knew his favorite food. It was because he was so alone that he wanted to leave a mark. The world would know that Giuseppe Cavallo had once lived. His name would be remembered for generations.
Every day Giuseppe's bent body could be seen toiling over the few desiccated grapes that remained in his vineyard. At night, he would close the door to his cottage and descend a steep stone staircase to his laboratory. There mysteries were revealed.
He had discovered a grape that needed so little water it could survive severe drought. He had discovered a way to expand water so that one bushel could be multiplied to three. But his most recent, most revolutionary, discovery was rain. He had devised a method for creating rain.
Giuseppe was devoutly religious. His religion was not one that could be identified by an established orthodoxy. Rather it was a faith in the earth, in the regenerative properties of life itself. He had not shared his great discoveries because he thought each was an affront to nature, a denial of his basic tenet that nature finds a balance, in time.
But lately it seemed earth had turned against the people of his village. Giuseppe had waited patiently for nature to find its balance. He had walked past parched fields, cracked earth, dried basins.
And he waited.
For the first time in his life nature defied his expectations. Was this a challenge?
One night he left the cellar and walked into the moonless night.
"When will this end"? he asked the withered trees.
The temptation to violate his faith had grown of late. Was he not part of nature? If a design for making rain came from him, was that not natural?
The next morning Giuseppe opened his cottage door and beheld an ancient oak that had lost a limb. The wood had become so dry and lifeless that the tree could no longer hold itself together.
“This is my answer,” he decided.
He put on his best clothes, smoothed his hair with creme and trimmed his beard. He collected his rain-making invention and walked the dusty road to the village.
He approached the Mayor's office. But the Deputy at the door would not let him in.
"I must speak to the Mayor," Giuseppe explained. "I can make rain."
On a good day, the Deputy might have laughed. But it was hot. His wife was angry with him, and his dog had chewed his slippers that morning. He saw no humor in the old man's absurd claim.
Giuseppe fell backwards as the Deputy shoved him off the steps.
"Don't come back," the functionary warned Giuseppe. "Next time I won't be so gentle."
Giuseppe was astonished. The man was a fool.
What to do now? The sun was reaching its zenith. Perspiration stained Giuseppe's shirt. He found a seat on a scarred bench and decided he would not wait for the Mayor. After all, what was government good for? Government hadn't helped the people so far.
He decided to talk to the people directly. The dry goods store was just a few steps away.
He rested his invention on the dry goods counter--for he was tired and the apparatus had grown heavy in his hands.
"What you got there, old fella?" The story clerk had a round pleasant visage.
"I can make rain," Giuseppe declared. He realized this was not the proper way to introduce his invention, but he was so tired he wasn't thinking straight.
The corners of the clerk's mouth twitched as she struggled to suppress a laugh.
Giuseppe started to collect his invention. Not here. He would go elsewhere. Someone would listen. As he was about to move off he felt a hand on his shoulder.
"Make rain, eh?"
An odor of stale oats and rum emanated from the sallow face that leaned in close.
"You don't want to run around saying things like that old man. People are kind of touchy about rain these days.”
The man with the sallow face grabbed at Giuseppe's invention.
Giuseppe held tight.
"There you go old man. Let's have a look."
The man pushed Giuseppe to the floor and took the invention from him.
"Lookie here, everyone. Looks like we got ourselves a wizard." The man was hollering the words out the door, into the dusty street. A crowd gathered.
"He's goin to make rain for us with this here contraption." He picked up Giuseppe by the collar and dragged him into the street.
"OK, old man, make rain."
Giuseppe looked around at the crowd. Scowls. Raised eyebrows.
Giuseppe tried to walk off, but his way was blocked.
"Make rain." The shouts went up from a crowd that was getting larger. They were jeering now.
"The old fool. Says he can make rain. What kind of game are you playing?"
Giuseppe thought, “I was wrong about the tree. It wasn't a message. It was just a tree that lost its limb.”
He sat down and didn't try to move. His passivity seemed to infuriate the crowd.
"Look at him. Thinks the drought is a joke."
Someone threw an old shoe. Then a handful of dirt. Then a rock.
Giuseppe's head was bleeding, but he didn't resist. He had violated his own principles. He had tried to upset nature's balance. He would accept its punishment.
On that very day the first drops of rain fell. Clouds drifted over the town and opened with such fury that Giuseppe's passive body was washed away, and was lost. The legend grew that nature had been angered by Giuseppe's arrogance and had claimed him for its own.
So it happened, in the end, that Giuseppe's prophecy came true. Generations repeated his name. Giuseppe Cavallo. The man who perished in the town square on the last day of the Great Drought.
Our contest will be running for two weeks, through August 1. However, there's a catch. Your stories must be submitted by July 25, the first week of the contest. During the second week, you will submitted an edited (improved?) version. Details for the contest are described here.