The rain started not soon after the fifth birthday of Zara's daughter. An endless pouring of blood that came from eternally gray skies forced everyone into their homes and afraid for what was to come. Mother believed that a holy war was taking place in the heavens, and the fluid that leaked from above was the wounds of angels. Zara thought it was the earth finally giving up, shedding her tears of blood as she finally turned her back on mankind. But the rain never stopped, and soon they began to wonder if it ever would.

Yono was too young to remember what life was like before the rain. During the day, she spent her time watching patterns form in the scarlet soaked streets like shifting tides of liquid fire, mesmerized by the way the blood hit the earth. At night, she fell asleep to the sound of pitter-patter hitting the shingles and the smell of iron in the air.

As Zara played with her daughter, Mother told stories of her old garden, with bright yellow squashes and cauliflower, earthy green leaves that bustled with fruit, and beautiful purple eggplants that looked swollen under the sunlight. She told Yono about how people could communicate through tiny objects called phones before the lines went down and the whole world was submerged in darkness. Sometimes she would tell Yono of her uncle, aunt, and cousins, hopefully safe and tucked away in their own home.

"I miss the smell of dirt," she said, tears forming in the corner of her eyes. "I miss the sun." Outside, wetness dripped from the drainpipe, spilling out into the road until it formed a sea of blood.

One day Yono perked up from her usual place from the window and pointed outside. "Mama, mama," she said with excitement. "Look at that." Zara made her way to the window.

There was a figure out in the rain, a man dressed in black that covered him from head to toe. He wore some strange wide-brimmed hat that shielded him from the rain, forming a bloody waterfall around his face.

He was looking straight at them.

Zara tried to calm her beating heart. The figure was the first person they had seen in almost a year.

Mother appeared behind Zara. "What's going on?"

"There's someone out there," Zara said. Mother peered out the window, and the man in his strange attire gazed back at them, steady and unwavering. Then, after a minute or two, he turned around and continued plodding his way across the road until he disappeared into the bloody mist.

"Wow! There was someone out there!" Yono said excitedly. "Grandma, does that mean we can go outside too?"

"Please, child," Mother said with a snap. "The rain is poisonous. Even breathing in the air outside is too dangerous." Zara noticed the tremor that laced her voice. "You will not go outside."

That one instance changed something in Yono. After then, the look in her eyes became less wistful and more determined, staring into the grey sky like she could divine the future from the clouds. At night, Zara would hear Yono quietly get up from the floor and tiptoe past Mother's sleeping form as she left the room. Zara didn't know what she was doing, but she didn't think much of it.

"I'm afraid for her, daughter. There is something in that child that makes her different," Mother confessed as they prepared the tubers in the basement. "It must be the rain. Doing something to her mind. You and I at least remember when we were free."

Zara frowned. "Yono doesn't know how any of that feels, mama. When you tell her these things, she can't possibly understand." She set her knife down. "The rain is her reality. As well as ours."

Mother sighed, and they went back to peeling, the sound of metal and the thunks of potato filling the silence between them.

Zara did remember. The feeling of grass under her bare feet. The endless swirl of stars dotting the night like tiny fireflies. The sharp wind that whipped against her skin, sending goosebumps rippling down her arm. She also remembered the slurs people called her when she held a baby Yono in her arms, their eyes jeering with false sympathy and kindness. Poor thing. She's too young.

"We're almost out of food, Mother," Zara said quietly. "What should we do?"

Mother paused and stared at the potato in her hand, the skin curling around her weathered finger like a ring. "I miss the sun," she whispered.

"What happens if the rain isn't as bad as Grandma says it is?" Yono looked up from Zara's lap as Zara stroked her hair with thoughtless care.

"Why can't we at least try?"

The taste of metal under her tongue made Zara's eyes heavy with sleep. "The rain is dangerous, baby."

"You're all liars, both Grandma and you," Yono mumbled against Zara's skin. But Zara didn't say anything else, instead choosing to look out to the cold crimson sea.

The figure standing in the rain was burned into Zara's memory, especially the way his clothes wrapped around his skin and the oddness of his triangle-shaped hat. When Mother was distracted, Zara would hide in a corner and try to fasten a similar-looking contraption with the spare clothes she had lying around. She told herself that it needed to be done. The rain was dangerous, but the stockpile in the basement was almost gone.

One night, Zara woke up to the shadows of blood-forming streaks against the windows. She looked around to find Yono missing, and the feeling of dread seeped into her heart. She leaped up and ran to the living room, where she found Yono, standing in front of the open door, holding a bare hand out to catch the blood that fell from the rooftop. Her daughter turned around, and Zara was horrified to find red forming a crimson ring around her mouth.

She smiled, and a shiver traveled down Zara's spine as she noticed Yono's blood-tainted teeth. "It tastes like pennies," Yono said.

Zara ran to her and yanked her hand inside, rubbing away the red with frantic strokes from her skirt. But instead of burns or callouses or burning flesh, she found only pink skin, a little raw from being viciously scrubbed. Zara examined the inside of Yono's mouth, but other than the red that coated her throat like a second skin, there wasn't anything wrong.

"Don't tell Grandma about this," Zara said, and Yono stared at her intently before nodding her head.

"Tell me what?" A voice came from behind, and Zara whipped around, trying to shield Yono from view. Mother stared wordlessly at the blood on Zara's skirt, the open door, and the redness of Yono's berry-stained lips. She stumbled a bit as she took a step back, eyes glazed over.

"Mother-" Zara stood up and reached out a shaky hand.

"I miss the sky." Mother whispered. "I miss my son, and the taste of fresh apples. When we were happy and free and alive." She turned around, eyes gazing at some unknown place. "Now everything is all wrong, and the world is crumbling to ashes."

She kept mumbling as she retreated into the depths of their room, shutting the door behind her with a soft click. Zara watched her go.
She felt a tug on her skirt. "Did I do something wrong?" Yono asked.
Zara took her hand in hers and squeezed hard. "Let's go to bed," Zara said as she ran a thumb over Yono's unblemished skin. When Zara laid her down in bed, she leaned over Yono's small face and pressed a fleeting kiss on her head. "I love you," she whispered.

When Zara went to close the door, fingers wrapping around the knob, she hesitated, staring out into the street. Her heart pumped faster. She raised one curious hand to the outside, the unknown, and splayed her fingers out to catch the first of the falling drops.