When they were young, the seven children of the Rain and the Sun were inseparable. They were magnificent, these children. When they were born, so too were colors born into the world. And the colors bore the names of the seven children. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet.
What each child touched became that color. The red petals of a rose, the orange cheeks of a young fairy, the green spires of a pine, the indigo eye of a peacock’s feather. They would join hands and skip through the world, coloring as they went.
Sometimes the children would merge their colors into subtle new hues and shades. Something they would layer their colors or swirl their colors or splatter their colors.
Sometimes they would play pranks upon each other and upon the world, as when they name a particular berry after Blue but gave it the colors of Indigo.
The other beings in the world, those who were mortal, those who were long-lived, and even those who were immortal and had all of eternity to witness wonders, would marvel at the children of the Rain and Sun.
Red was full of love and kindness. Orange was full of cheer and laughter. Yellow was full of happiness and hope. Green was inventive and nurturing. Blue was serene and peaceful. Indigo was philosophical and thoughtful. Violet was noble and just.
But as they had their virtues, the children also had their faults.
Their parents gave them powers to wield when they grew older and wise enough to wield them. But the children inherited their powers too early it would seem. And they used them most often to make mischief in the world.
Red liked to scare lone travelers upon the road by turning invisible and walking beside them, laughing and whispering until the traveler cried “ghost!” and fled.
Orange would create the illusion of level ground over ponds and wait for an unsuspecting being to walk forth and plummet into the pool, sending many a poor mortal into a gasping panic.
Yellow would suddenly appear in kitchens in the morning to steal griddle cakes.
Green rolled giant boulders out of boredom, setting herds of cattle scattering.
Blue flew up into the air and shaped the clouds into rude messages.
Indigo sauntered through towns reading minds and spreading gossip.
Violet wagered with and challenged unknowing braggarts to foot races, only to win the race before the braggart took the first step.
Their powers affected every being in the world save their own parents.
So when the Rain and Sun summoned their children before them, Indigo could not read their minds. But there was no need. The children could see from the fiery expression on the Sun’s face and the thunderous voice that the Rain used to call their names that they were to be punished.
“You are not ready for your powers, foolish children,” the Rain said.
“And so we will take them until you are,” said the Sun.
And before the children could blink, their powers were gone. No longer could Violet run faster than light. No longer did Green have the strength to bear even the smallest of boulders. Blue felt anchored to the earth, unable to fly. Red felt naked and bare, unable to turn invisible. Orange could no longer hide in illusion. Yellow could no longer escape through teleportation. And Indigo heard only the thoughts of Indigo.
The children still had their colors, but their colors seemed insufficient.
“This is your fault,” Violet said to Blue, after their parents left them alone. “Playing with clouds in the sky, where the Sun and the Rain could see you.”
“Why blame Blue?” Indigo asked. “What about you? The minds in every town you visited murmured with thoughts of your wagering and your cheating.”
“Those thoughts would have stayed in their minds if you didn’t stoke them with your gossiping,” Red said, glaring at Indigo.
“Rude rhymes in the clouds,” Blue said, turning to Orange. “At least I wasn’t try to drown anyone.”
But Orange turned to Green. “I was always watching, ready to jump in and save. But you could not have stopped your boulders from rolling over and smashing some poor sheep.”
“That’s right,” Yellow said. “Why blame those of us who were only having some sport? The Sun and the Rain only punished us because of those who went too far.”
“I’ve killed no mortals,” Green said, turning to Violet. “Can you say the same of the hapless braggarts who lost all their wages to your cheating?”
And so it went, on and on the siblings argued until at last they could come to no accord and went their separate ways.
Thereafter the children of the Rain and the Sun were no longer seen holding hands and skipping through the world together.
All the things in the world came to take on a singular color. No longer were there roses that bloomed with yellow petals tinged with orange and red. No longer were there violet eyes flecked with green. No longer were there birds who bore blue and indigo plumage.
The Rain and the Sun were saddened to see their children so estranged. But they did not relent in their punishments, for their children were still too foolish to be entrusted with their full powers.
But one day, the Rain and the Sun themselves began to fight.
They had always been opposites, but had loved each other enough for the Rain to bear the searing touch of the Sun, and for the Sun to bear the quenching embrace of the Rain. But they would fight often, and then fly apart, the Sun in a fiery fury, and the Rain in a cold rage.
In time, they would remember their fondness and their passion for each other, and they would come together again.
Their children had witnessed this splitting and reconciling time and again in the past.
But this time, something was different. Each child could not say what. And as the children themselves were estranged, they did not gather together to exchange their thoughts. But this time, when the Rain and the Sun broke apart, they did not seethe with anger. This time, the Rain and the Sun did not speak in loud voices, the Sun sizzling and the Rain roaring. This time, the Rain and the Sun spoke in quiet voices, sad voices. And they moved away from each other slowly.
It was the last time that the Rain and the Sun were together.
The children of the Rain and the Sun began to take sides. Red, Orange, and Yellow went to the Sun. Indigo and Violet went to the Rain. Green and Blue were content to let their parents be, and they remained in the world. So it came to be that the mortal world was painted green and blue. So it came to be that the Sun took on the colors of the children who chose the Sun. And so it was that the Rain took on colors of the children who chose the Rain.
Those who favored the Sun reconciled with each other, but despised those who favored the Rain. And those who favored the Rain reconciled with each other, but despised those who favored the Sun. And all those who went to care for their parents despised those who had remained on the earth and claimed so much of it for their own colors. And those who remained on the earth reconciled with each other, but despised all those who had dared choose to love only one parent, when the earthbound colors had chosen to honor both parents.
Much time passed.
One day, Red, Orange, and Yellow spoke as they hung in the sky, surrounding the Sun.
“The gall of Blue,” Red said. “To take the whole sky! How shameless.”
Orange shrugged. “I’m sure Blue didn’t mean to be greedy. The night sky is still—“
“Indigo!” Red flickered. “They’ve left nothing but scraps for the rest of us. A sliver of the sky.”
Yellow, who had been distracted by gazing down at the world, turned to the others and said, “What?”
Red peered down at the world. “See how Indigo and Violet are beginning to conspire with Green and Blue?”
“They have been speaking for many days,” Yellow said.
Orange joined Red and Yellow in gazing down at the world. “Speaking? Not fighting?”
Red’s eyes gleamed a brilliant red. “We must go down and challenge our siblings for their folly.”
So Red, Orange, and Yellow descended from the sky, leaving the Sun bobbing near the horizon of the world.
For the first time in a long while, all seven children of the Rain and the Sun were gathered together.
Red marched up to the four cooler siblings. “Here you are,” Red said, waving at the sky and the land, “claiming the world while we hang in the sky trying to console our dear Sun.”
“The Sun is not well,” Orange said. “How…how is the Rain?”
“And you!” Red pointed at Indigo and Violet. “You whose colors take over the night, even as Green and Blue have taken over the day. You have abandoned the Rain.”
“As did we, my dear Red,” Yellow said.
Indigo approached Red. “No, we have all done as we should have done. Each of us could not have split ourselves in two, one to console the Sun and one to console the Rain.”
Red seethed even as the Sun and the Rain would seethe.
“In three, actually,” Orange said. “For there were those who remained to look after the world that our parents hold dear.”
Green smiled. “And that we too hold dear.”
“Giving our color is not claiming power,” Blue said. “It is surrendering power.” With that, Blue began to float in the air.
Red’s eyes widened. “You…when did you regain your power?”
“Try yours,” Green said.
Yellow vanished in a blink and reappeared behind Violet who sighed with impatience. Orange smoke began to puff up and around Orange, who grinned.
Red needed no mirrors to know. Red felt the familiar cloak of comfort and protection that descended.
Red had regained the power of invisibility.
Red frowned in confusion. “But, I do not feel wiser.”
“The Sun grows dim. And the Rain grows gray,” said Indigo.
“Yes,” said Yellow. “We have noticed this as well.”
Indigo nodded. “We have regained our powers not because we have earned them, but because our parents have lost their grip upon the keys that lock those powers away.”
“They are weakening,” Green said.
Violet frowned. “They are dying and the world will die with them.”
Red knew that what Violet said was true. Red had watched the Sun’s light diminish. Red had feared for the Sun, had feared silently and alone, saying nothing to Orange and Yellow.
Red looked up at the sky and cried out at last. “I am helpless to save them!” Shades of red flickered forth in waves, coloring all that surrounded them red, save for the siblings.
Blue stepped toward Red, and placed a hand on Red’s shoulder. “We are trying. We are trying to save them.”
“Perhaps, you should have joined us, instead of sulking,” Violet said.
Indigo scoffed. “We don’t need them.”
Green said to Blue. “Weren’t you supposed to invite them?”
Blue turned to Green, and said, “I forgot.”
“How?” Red said. “How are you trying to save them?”
Green made fists and raised them. “By giving our powers back, to replenish the energies that are seeping out of them.”
“But it’s not working,” Indigo admitted with furrowed brow. “I cannot think of why. And I cannot see where the energies are seeping out. The Sun and the Rain are still strong. And yet they are weak.”
All were silent for a moment. All were solemn.
“Heartsick,” Red said quietly, gazing up again. “They are heartsick.”
From below, Red saw the empty space within the Sun’s heart.
Violet clapped Red on the back. “Of course! And you would know, wouldn’t you? Then all we need do is help them reconcile. Green, you—“
“No,” Red said. “They are not heartsick for each other.” Red glanced around at the other children of the Sun and the Rain. “Don’t you see? Look. Look at the Sun.”
And all the colors looked up at the Sun.
They saw. And the Sun seemed to brighten under their gaze. But their view was soon blocked, for clouds began to gather.
“It would seem the Rain is jealous of our attention to the Sun,” Indigo said.
The clouds grayed and rain began to fall.
“Look. Look at the Rain,” Red said. “Don’t you see?”
And all the colors looked up at the Rain.
They saw. And the Rain seemed to sparkle under their gaze.
“They are not heartsick for each other,” Indigo said, marveling at the sudden realization.
Red smiled as the rain fell upon their faces. “They are heartsick for us.”
“But we have been with them,” Yellow said. “We have been here all along.”
“Not together,” Orange countered. “Not as we once were.”
Indigo sighed. “We can never be as we once were.”
“No, we must change,” Green said. “We must be better.”
Red grasped Orange’s hand. “Let us be together. Not as we once were. But as we are now.”
Orange smiled and reached out to Yellow, who grasped hands with Green, who grasped hands with Blue, who grasped hands with Indigo, who grasped hands with Violet.
The children of the Sun and the Rain felt their powers surge within themselves. They looked up and saw the empty space within the Rain’s heart begin to fill with colors, with red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.
The Rain drummed happily, shimmering with color. The clouds swept aside graciously. And the Sun shone through them. And the empty space within the Sun’s heart began to fill with colors, with red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.
Blue and Yellow used their powers then to lift all the siblings into the sky. Green gave them strength. Indigo gave them encouragement. Violet gave them speed. And Red and Orange obscured the sight of them from the rest of the world below.
And so they beamed up into a sky still wet with rain but gleaming with sunlight, and they arced across the sky like a bow bending protectively over the world that their parents loved so much.
The figures of the children were hidden from the sight of those below, but not their colors. And so they were named “the bow after the rain.”
Though the Sun and the Rain did not reconcile, they were healed by the sacrifice of their children. For the colors lost their powers, but they were happy to leap about the world together. Instead of mischief, they now brought hope and joy to the beings in the world. And the children reveled in the praise and thanks that all gave to the rainbow.
Though the Sun and the Rain never did reconcile, they were held together in fondness by their children, for the colors only appeared when the Rain and the Sun shared the sky. But when they appeared, they were generous with their colors. And they gave a special gift of their colors to their parents.
For every drop of rain became a prism through which the golden light of the sun could split into the many colors of the rainbow.
Copyright © 2020 Nila L. Patel