This post is part of the March 2012 Blog Chain at Absolute Write. This month’s prompt is “rainy days.”

Mikey sighed. Maybe the science channel and the encyclopedia had let him down; maybe there wasn’t something unusual and mysterious under every rock. But, darn it, he’d come close and it hurt bitterly to have to go back home, back to Dave, empty handed. There’d been a whisper of truth in all of Elliot and Natalie’s leads–the giant worm hole that was really a drainpipe, the mystery whirlpool caused by the school sprinkler system, the tree shadows that looked like a man–but none of them were even close to the unexplainable phenomenon he’d promised to bring back to his know-it-all brother.

“You don’t think that, maybe we might be able to find some more leads, do you?” he said.

Elliot rubbed his neck. “Maybe later, Mikey. It’s getting kinda late, you know, almost dinnertime.”

“Yeah, maybe later,” Natalie said. “Come on, Mikey, we’ll ride you home.”

The quickest way to Mikey’s house led through downtown—or, more accurately, behind downtown. In small, rural places like that, downtowns were often only a single street, fading into the surrounding residential neighborhoods. There was a wide, muddy alleyway behind the shops, many of which had closed and been boarded up, that neighborhood kids would sometimes use as a shortcut; on an impulse, Mikey darted his bike in, followed closely by his friends.

There hadn’t been so much as a cloudburst for weeks, so the alley was dry and hard packed, save for a damp spot behind the old hardware store. As Mikey sped through, he felt a light dusting of raindrops on his face. Letting his pace slack a bit, he looked up; the sky was as warm and bright and clear as it had been when they left the school.

“Hold on a sec!” he cried, bringing his bike to an abrupt stop.

Elliot and Natalie pulled up behind him. “What’s the matter?” he heard one of them say.

“It’s raining here,” Mikey said. “Feel the drops? Like just before it starts to pour, when it’s all gray out?”

Natalie stepped forward, arms outstretched; her hands came away slightly damp. “Yeah, I can feel it!”

“Me too,” Elliot said, looking up. “And not a cloud in the sky! Where d’you think it’s coming from, Mikey?” he said. “Mikey?”

But Mikey was already running toward the old fire escape, on the back of the hardware store. He charged up, heedless of his friends’ calls. The roof was paved with gravel, and a few rusty chimneys stuck up here and there, but the whole was bone dry. Looking out over the rest of the block, he couldn’t see any clouds, any standing water, any leaking pipes. There didn’t seem to be anywhere that the water could be coming from.

“It’s rain from nowhere,” he said, climbing down. “That’s what it is. We were running all over town looking for it, and here it is right under our noses: water from nowhere.”

“You mean…” Natalie said.

“Look for yourself!” Mikey cried. “It’s not coming from anywhere!” He did a little dance among the light, misty drops. “This is it! We’ve found our unexplainable mystery!”

Check out this month’s other bloggers, all of whom have posted or will post their own responses:
Ralph Pines
Lyra Jean
J. W. Alden

Dennis Baily had purchased the watch in 1920. He’d come into five dollars as a reward for alerting a farmer that his barn door had broken and helping to round up the scattered animals before a thunderstorm. His parents had urged him to save the money, but Dennis had his eye on a young lady in town, and spent the money on the watch and other bits and pieces needed to make a presentable, if cheap and plebeian, outfit to wear when calling on her.

Muriel Donegal, impressed, agreed to marry him. Dennis then wore the watch on special occasions until 1947, when he died of a heart attack while trying to start a tractor. His son, James, took the watch as a memento and wore it daily even as the farm was sold and the family moved into Cascadia. It became such an element of his daily routine that James refused to leave the house without his father’s watch on his wrist. That same watch, left on a nightstand, was also the first indication that he’d suffered a stroke in 1980. His only child, Henrietta Baily, was left the watch and wore it on special occasions like family gatherings. When she married in 1984, it was on her wrist.

Much wrangling went on among her children about who would obtain the cherished heirloom afterwards. Henrietta maintained that it ought to be shared, but the family valued it too much for such a solution to stick; the squabbling intensified to a fever pitch in 2010 when Henrietta was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Not bad for a trinket that was mass-produced and retailed for a dollar…

Mikey was going to come up with something that his brother couldn’t explain.

During the long, late summer days they often spent together in the house, waiting for their parents to come home from work, Mikey would flit from TV to bookshelf in pursuit of the new and the interesting, drinking in hours of programming on Dad’s favorite channels and leafing through the family’s handsome encyclopedia set. It was an exploration of the rawest kind, filled with new wonders and mysteries, and he would always burst into the living room, where Dave was usually camped with a comic book in the nook of one arm or hunched over the family computer.

“Dave, did you know that there’s a whale that grows a horn like a unicorn does?”

Dave would look up. “Yeah. The narwhal. I touched one of those horns once, in a museum before you were born. Go back and watch your kiddie shows.”

“Dave, did you hear about the lost colony they had in Virginia? They disappeared hundreds of years ago, and nobody ever found them!”

“Wouldn’t be much of a lost colony if they found it, would it?” Dave would respond. “Roanoke didn’t disappear, they were starving. Went and lived with the Indians. Some of them still have blue eyes, you know. Now leave me alone.”

Time and again, some great discover or fantastic mystery would be delivered to Mikey, and time and again Dave would swat it down with a casual hand. There wasn’t a thing Mikey could say that his brother couldn’t grab and squeeze and wring the magic out of. Sitting there, thinking he was so smart and so wise—Mikey was sick of it.