Rainfall and a God Who Looks Like Bowie

by Joshua Young

When I prayed to ask God to stop all the raining, I didn't really think he was listening. I did it because that's what you do when you're desperate. You pray and hope that there's someone up there, or out there, who listens and can help.

Truth is, I like rain. Always have. I like the way it sounds outside the window at night, that constant spatter and the dripping gutters. I love the way it smashes on car windows. I love the mud it leaves to run through, dive into, and so on.

My mom doesn't though. She hates rain. She comes from a place where there's sunshine 300 days a year, where rain comes and goes so fast, that twenty minutes after rain there isn't evidence of it. When she moved to Seattle, she thought that the whole rain stigma was an exaggeration. Boy was she wrong.

She used to sit in front of the window and watch it fall. She'd look back at us and say, "I'm really sick of all this rain business."

I came home one day and found her in the kitchen, crying, wiping her face with our floral oven mitt, snot all over her upper lip like a three year old. I took it off her hand and wiped the snot away.

"What's wrong?" I said.

"This," she said and pointed at out the window.

"The window?"

"The rain. It's too much. Where's the sun? I want to see the Goddamn sun."

That night I asked my dad about it. I asked if we could move. He just laughed and said, "She'll be fine. She just needs to get through this winter."

'But it rains too much," I said.

"It'll pass," he said.

"But she's so sad."

"She's an adult and you need to go to bed."

It was clear he would do nothing about it. He just went into his office and got on the computer, started clicking on the mouse. My mom sat in front of the TV, flipping through channels, till she ended up settling on a sit-com with fake laughing in the background. From my room, I could hear the TV, but my mom didn't laugh. Not once. So, that night I prayed.

I dreamt that night that I floated up to Heaven, up through the gray and rain, and onto a cloud with a golden gate and a silver podium with a big leather-ish book. I waited at the gate for someone to show up. I didn't know what to expect, but I guess, I was waiting for God. After a while, the gates slid open and a figure started approaching. It was God. Only he looked a lot like David Bowie in the Labyrinth, with that bulge in his pants and weird haircut. Instead of tights he wore a mossy green dress. When I saw him, I heard an acoustic guitar playing and an electric guitar wailing in the distance.

He stopped in front of the podium, opened the book and said, "You're years and years and years early."

"I'm in a dream."

"Oh, that explains it," he said. "You shouldn't be dead yet. What can I do for you?"

"I need you to stop all the rain in Seattle."

"I can't do that. It's Seattle."


God thought about it for a long time. The music still played, but it became quiet and smooth. He had his eyes closed for a long time. Then he opened them and said, "I could make it rain something other than water. Blood?"

"Not blood, that's gross."


"Haven't you done that before?"

"We should do something new. Right?"



"No, that'd be like snow or when Mt St. Helens eruption in 1980."

"Ah, yes. Good point. What about some type of food?"

"There's a book...and now a movie."

"Oh yeah? I don't think I've heard of it. Shouldn't be gross or harmful, and it can't be a repeat…what about feathers?"

I smiled. A guitar crooned.

In the morning, I found my mother by the window. I thought, it was just a dream, but when she turned around, she was smiling.

"I've never seen anything so beautiful."

"So," I said, "you changed your tune about rain, huh?"

"It's raining feathers! It's beautiful."

I ran to the window and looked.

Feathers as thick as a days worth of snow covered everything. People were out in their yards staring up at the sky, scratching their heads, doing what people do when weird things happen. Some people were sweeping clean their driveways, and others were raking piles and filling garbage bags.

At school everyone talked about it. It was a miracle. It was unexplained. The news couldn't figure it out. No one could. There was no reason. Up in airplanes and helicopters, people just saw feathers falling from clouds. No contraptions. Nothing. Just clouds dumping feathers.

It was as though God had emptied his pillows of their contents. I imagined it at night, while I slept. He wore leather and danced on a big golden bed, shaking a pillow as it burst, everything in slow-motion that crooning guitar getting louder and louder. By the time the first rain stopped, the local home improvement stores had sold out of vacuums and brooms, people were obsessively trying to contain the building layers of feathers. My mom had stopped all her crying, but no one could get to work in the mess. And the city had to borrow snow-ploughs, but that barely helped; the feathers were kept drifting up in the breeze, and when the winds came, they made blizzards.

A good two months into this, after all news reports had died down, and the feathers had stopped a dry spell--God brought me back up to heaven. I didn't have to wait for him. He was up on that podium waiting for me, his legs dangling from the side. An acoustic guitar played.

He shook his head and said, "Well kid, we got ourselves a problem. Everyone in Seattle, Christian and Atheist, has started praying. I like that. I like the attention. I like people talking to me. I like it because I don't have to talk back, I just listen. But it looks like you're the only one who has prayed for these feathers and everyone else wants the rain back, the real rain with water. I should answer their prayers. It's been too long without any results."

"But my mom's happy this way."

"Yeah, but everyone else is sad, some are angry."

"But my mom?"

He sprung off the podium and bent down to look me right in the eye, putting his hands on my shoulders. "I'm leaving it up to you."

When I woke in the morning it had started raining again, but it wasn't raining water. It was still raining feathers. Outside, my mom had her arms spreads as she walked through it. I think she was singing, but I couldn't make it out. If I had to guess it was a Bowie song. 

BIO: Joshua Young holds an MA in English from Western Washington University, and begins an MFA in Poetry at Columbia College Chicago in 2011. He teaches English Composition, and lives in Washington State with his wife, their son, and their dog.