The floodwaters receded months ago leaving carcasses drying beneath an unrelenting sun; a burning eye that baked cracks in the mud-pan flats, deep crevices where even the tadpoles became stuck, rigid in their slow desiccation. While they could, magpies gorged themselves. Within a week the birds moved on, their black and white feathers kiting east with the wind. The rain had come in a torrent. The land, unprepared to receive it—parched to cake flour dust, sloughed off the water like it hated the touch.
“We won’t see rain again ’till fall.” Cory Townsend kicked at the hexagonal mud tiles. “That is, if we’re lucky. Sure, we can pump wells for a while, but crops won’t get big enough to harvest by the time they run dry. And they will run dry.”