Rain, Rain, Go Away by Isaac Asimov, 1959
The magic trick:
Everything is normal except for that one thing that isn’t
We’ve got a classic trope of mid-century fantasy short fiction here today. Everything is normal. OK, well, not quite everything. The new neighbors are nice and all. It’s just that there’s one weird thing: they’re always staring up at the sky, tracking the clouds, looking for rain. What’s up with that?
Section two (of this story and many others) takes that premise and investigates. We get to know the new neighbors better. We see them at a park. We’re further convinced that they’re mostly normal, and yet also further convinced that the one weird thing about them continues to be weird. We know them better, but we’re still no closer to solving the elusive mystery.
Finally, and here (as with many similar stories) the third section comes suddenly and ends quickly, the mystery’s solution reveals itself.
Can’t beat that format for fun suspense.
And that’s quite a trick on Asimov’s part.
“Well, didn’t you, when she’d just moved in? You said you called.”
“I said hello but, well, she’d just moved in and the house was still upset, so that’s all it could be, just hello. It’s been two months now and it’s still nothing more than hello, sometimes. —She’s so odd.”
“She’s always looking at the sky; I’ve seen her do it a hundred times and she’s never been out when it’s the least bit cloudy. Once, when the boy was out playing, she called to him to come in, shouting that it was going to rain. I happened to hear her and I thought, Oh no, wouldn’t you know and me with a wash on the line, so I hurried out and, you know, it was broad sunlight. Oh, there were some clouds, but nothing, really.”
“Did it rain, eventually?”
“Of course not. I just had to run out in the yard for nothing.”
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