The thunder rumbled across the valley and rattled the bottles in Ani’s shop. She glared at the grey clouds blotting out the afternoon sun, making the world look flat and grey. A crack of lightning looked like it would split the mountain in two. She hated the thunderstorms at the border between the seasons.
“As if the gods themselves were fighting over the change of the tide.”
A rumble of a different sort caught her attention as a gaggle of her neighbor’s children came rushing in the back door of her store as the next wave of thunder shook stifled yells from them.
“Careful! Careful! You’ll break your necks running like that through my stock!”
They came skidding to a halt, their tracks across her floor a study in mud. They fanned out around her like chicks, looking up with their wide eyes.
“Auntie Ani, tell us the story,” the eldest cried as he jumped with the next burst of lightning. The storm drew closer. He would soon be too old to not pretend the storms didn’t scare him.
She raised an eyebrow. “Oh, what story would that be?”
The sudden downpour of rain, pounding on the roof almost drown out their reply.
“Oh, that story! Well, I suppose we could do that, but clean your feet and the mud on the floor first.”
They scurried away and her floor was clean before she was able to shutter her windows and draw enough cushions around. The older children dragged the rest and plopped down.
Then Auntie Ani began her tale about the real reason for the storms. She wove her tale for an entire hour until the storm had ran dry and moved on and the sun wiped away the last of the clouds from the sky and the children were smiling with their storm fears forgotten.
“And,” she concluded wagging a finger that would soon be gnarled with age, but not today. “That is why one must always be kind to a run of chickens.”
A rooster crowed from across the square as if to signal his agreement.
“Or else the great goddess, Thunder Chicken, will send her fury after you and you’ll never be rid of the storm again.”
The children nodded sagely and Auntie Ani smiled before she shooed them away. She watched them as they scattered to their houses and hoped she would die before she ever saw the great goddess bird again.