The weather arrives. And she’s not who she used to be. She reminds me of a place who reminds me of a woman who reminds me of a Dream.

The Dream opens like this: a woman has dyed her hair red and the color has not yet set. She rubs her hair across the floor and leaves wispy streaks of rusty dye. She wakes as if in a stupor, surprised to learn that she left the ruddy trail.

The Dream shifts.

I’m in a truck, driving across a parking lot. It’s snowing lightly and the other vehicles have left tracks ahead of me. The pattern of these tracks mimics that of the wet streaks of colored hair. I wake up, inwardly hearing a Dream title: “Bad Hair Day.”

A Woman presumably having a bad hair day is a dream image I decided to practice with. She discomforted me and when I thought of her I chilled, thinking of creepy-crawly humans-like creatures from scary stories. I wanted to practice with an “intolerable” — a nightmarish image. When I got into an imaginal space, I held the Dream image and then let it live on its own. The woman appeared, her hair still wet.

Other images intruded over the woman like full head-to-toe masks — the moment you learn the John Saul ghost is evil; the creeper from The Ring slithers; the story you overheard one traveler telling another about a slasher movie. Dreamers have a Dream Council, though — protection. And Dreamers cultivate safe space within. Think of it this way — if you can conjure up the scariest character imaginable, you can call forth the Hero. So, instead of seeing snakes grow bigger in your dreams, imagine your pet mongoose feasting on snakes.

Once I caught the vibe of the image and my associations, I ask, “Who are you?”

“The Woman who doesn’t want red hair,” she responds. “It’s dangerous. Dangerous times.”

The Place. Two weeks later, as I’m waking up from a Dream listening to, “Sister Golden Hair” and looking back at a stylized hot pink scene completely unfamiliar yet I know it. I delay waking up to hang with the image. The band, America, continues to sing, “…when a woman sure can be a friend of mine…” Inwardly I feel like I’m squinting and losing the idea of this place. Then it comes to me, Carson Valley. I’m now standing in the vista looking down the valley from the Nevada side toward the towering peaks of the Sierras. Even though the image is like a work of art, I know each peak, slope, and river.

That’s when a big wind blew from the pass to the west. A slow-moving mammoth mass of hot pink air. It gathered forces, rose like a thunderhead, and rotated before punching past me in a blast of wind. The last thing I heard before waking was, “The weather has arrived.”

On August 20, 2023, I wrote in my Dream Journal: “The Woman Who Does Not Want Red Hair is the coming weather.”

Then I wrote:

The Weather
The weather forms terrain.
Geology exposes rock --
            wind & sun
                 water & fire
                     shapes mountains

Water gives life
Carves a cradle for humans fresh from the cave
Slowly, shyly, a world takes shape.
The weather is Sister Golden Hair before she lost her daughter
       known to the gatherers of wheat
             known to the cattle, sheep, and goats
Fire scorched, the weather goes mad when underground technology steals her daughter
      Nabbed in broad daylight
              Taken to restore balance from what the earth has lost in diamonds and die-outs of species

Crazed, she dyes her hair red, scared to be seen 
Changed, she hurdles down corridors
    And it begins
          a geological transformation

Who will pick my fossilized bones 900,000 years from now?

It surprised me to realize the Woman Who Does Not Want Red Hair is the weather. It felt like a weird artistic, poetic, mythic moment when hurricane winds blew across the mountains where I grew up. I wondered how the change in weather patterns was going to impact the shapes and sizes of land features which would change where water flows. I’m not one for watching the weather, but suddenly I became interested in Hurricane Hilary. I realized it was projected to make landfall in California as a tropical storm and sweep across the deserts bringing a year’s worth of rain to those dry regions.

Then I saw the eye of the storm was to head over Nevada. I began watching the areas where Todd and I have family. Last night, I went to bed and instead of dreaming, I woke up. This is rare for me. I usually sleep like an old greywacke. I tried to go back to sleep. Then I sat up and could feel a change in the air. It felt heavy and damp. I got up and looked at my phone to see where the rain was falling. What I saw was a rotating mass that not only stretched across Nevada and Idaho, but it had arced through Montana and Canada and was circling back stateside.

At that moment the remnants of Hurricane Hilary’s front had reached Lady Lake Superior and was engulfing the Keweenaw in mist. The same winds that stoked the deadly fires on Maui like a dragon and spewed rivers over deserts now evaporated over me. The Greatest of the Lakes received the rain clouds and sucked them dry.

The weather has arrived.

August 22, 2023, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about the arrival of the weather. It can mean any kind of weather event meteorological or mythological. Is the weather personified, random, or calculating? Where does it arrive? Is it typical or epoch-changing? Who is involved? And if the Womam Who Doesn’t Want Red Hair shows up, well, ask her what’s happening. Go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by August 28, 2023. Please use the form below if you want to be published in the weekly collection. The Collection publishes on the Thursday following the next Challenge. Stories must be 99 words. Rules & Guidelines.
  2. Writers retain all copyrights to any stories published at Carrot Ranch.
  3. A website or social media presence is not required to submit. A blog or social media link will be included in the title of any story submitted with one.
  4. Please include your byline with your title on one line. Example: Little Calves by Charli Mills. Your byline can be different from your name.
  5. Please include the hashtag #99WordStories when sharing either the Challenge or Collection posts on social media.

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