In the evening, those that lived in town bolted their doors and windows. As twilight settled like fine mist over the valley, mothers prayed over their children, throats in knots and heartbeats wild and erratic. It was how they had grown up, it was how their parents had grown up. For generations the ritual was performed, the same every year, regardless of the outcome of the year before or new risks involved.
Hundreds of years, and he was the first to stand up and fight. No one understood what could motivate him; the urge to disobey ancient law was beyond them. They understood nothing beyond their scriptures and prayers, the ointments and rituals. They did not need to understand - their way of life had sufficed and would continue to - and they did not want to. It was always easier to believe someone else hadn't prayed hard enough, long enough, devotedly enough than it was to believe that perhaps the society they perpetuated was wrong.
It, as with all things, needed to come to an end.
The story begins - as the best always do - in a small, seemingly insignificant moment. It had been raining the day that changed everything. He'd worn a hood and the rain still dripped from his nose. The walk home was unpleasant but he had no complaints to make; frankly, he enjoyed the rain and though his clothes were soaked and clinging to him in uncomfortable places, the peace overshadowed the minor irritations. Light flickered across the street, drawing his attention upward in time to catch sight of the loveliest woman he had ever seen, rain-soaked and laughing as she tried to shake off the excess water from her umbrella. He didn't know why he stopped walking to watch her, for a long moment he didn't even realize he had. Until she turned to check the street before ducking into the safety of her house.
Their eyes met between the rivulets of rain, beneath the crackle of lightning.
She smiled at him and thunder rattled his bones.