“Sunny, with a 10% chance of rain at 5:00 this afternoon,” you whisper to yourself. “Yeah right.”
You look out the window, and not for the first time, think about how wrong the weather forecast had been. The alarm clock on your bedside table innocently blinds you with red digits that say 8:25, earning another scoff of disbelief. Opening the window shutters further, you watch as torrents of water drop from the clouds and pelt the people speed walking along the street past your apartment. You stifle a yawn with one hand while digging through your wallet on the kitchen counter with the other. Extracting four quarters, you drop them one after the other into a large glass jar, nearly fully filled with coins. Clink. Clink. Clink. Clink. You smooth back down a piece of tape, holding a sign that reads “Weather Escape Fund” before sliding the jar back onto it’s shelf alongside four other jars already filled to the brim. You pat the edge of the shelf fondly before letting out a soft sigh and going to get dressed for the day.
About to leave the apartment, you reluctantly tuck an umbrella beneath your arm, frustrated with your constant inability to prepare for the weather. The descending of five floors later, you join the flowing herds of people, weaving through swishing ponchos and downcast eyes. Jerking back as someone stops in front of you and bumping into the rest of the surrounding crowd, your mind slips into the dream of a vacation. A vacation with no people and no need to know the weather. A cabin somewhere, where rain cannot spoil plans because there are no plans. Your thoughts travelling far away, you mumble “excuse me” ‘s until reaching the entrance of the office building. You close your umbrella and shake it, drops of water splattering the once dry covered entryway.
As you make your way towards the office cubicle at the end of the room, the warm air hits your skin and you can almost imagine that it really is a sunny day outside. It’s only the window past your cubicle that disrupts the fantasy once more. You fall into your rolling chair and the well worn pattern of daily work as you wait for time to pass more quickly. Letting your mind be lost in space, it takes three tries before you hear the woman clearing her throat at the entrance to the cubicle. You throw on a smile as you turn towards the woman. You know you’ve seen her around before, but her name escapes you. She starts speaking but all you can focus on is her wide grin and wide eyes upon a long face, giving her the appearance of an over friendly horse. She starts laughing at something she said and you can almost hear the neighing.
“….so, do you think you could help me out here?” She looks at you expectantly.
You curse under your breath and adopt what you hope is an apologetic face, “I am so sorry, but I didn’t quite catch what you need from me.”
Mrs. Horse laughs in high notes and her grin stretches even farther than what you thought was possible. She starts again.
“You shared last week all about your spare change savings thing and I want my little boy to start such a cute tradition. I bought him one of those little glass jugs and everything!”
You nod along, wishing suddenly that you had never shared that little personal tidbit.
“But I can’t seem to remember when you’re supposed to put in the money. Was it a quarter every Tuesday and Thursday or…?”
You sigh, and can feel your ‘friendly face’ straining to stay up. “It really is unique for each individual. So whatever your son is able to keep to would be great.”
You start to turn back to your work but Mrs. Horse won’t let you off the hook that easily. She waves a hand in your direction, letting out yet another laugh. You can already feel the beginnings of a headache.
“But what do you do? I am just too curious not to know!”
You groan inwardly, all the while fighting to keep the smile. “I put a dollar in my jar whenever the weatherman is wrong about the weather.”
You quickly turn again to the work, praying she will leave.
Mrs. Horse whinnies out another laugh after glancing at the rain still pouring down the window, “Then you must have saved enough to buy the entire island of Greenland!”
She chortles heartily at her own words before her eyes alight on a new poor soul to talk to and she finally trots away. You lean back into your chair, letting your face relax once more into disinterest. Your hands go through all the motions of working, but inside you watch the mental clock that counts down to the end of the day.
Hours later and you are finally home. You take a bite of your sandwich, following it down with a handful of chips and a sip of soda as you turn on the T.V. An enthusiastic weatherman is pointing at a map behind him, tracing with a finger a line of blue triangles. You turn up the volume.
With an equally bright smile and tone of voice, the weatherman explains, “So if you can see folks, this rain is bringing in a cold front so expect temperatures to lower into the low 60s and high 50s. And make sure you keep carrying those umbrellas because the city will be swimming for at least a couple more days.”
You make a note of the prediction, and as the rain pounds against the rooftop, you think that the weatherman may have gotten it right this time. You finish off your dinner in silence, before a ringing phone cuts through the room. You answer and the chipper timbre of a voice you just heard moments before fills your ear.
“Hey, hey, hey! What’s new today?”
You roll your eyes but are too used to your brother’s eccentrics to be really annoyed.
“Nothing much, just the same as everyday. Including an incorrect weather report. Honestly, how have you not been fired yet?”
Your brother laughs, “Don’t shoot the messenger here, we’re trying our best but what can I say? Sometimes the weather is completely unpredictable.”
You start cleaning up from dinner, the phone pressed between your ear and shoulder as your brother continues.
“Did you see my forecast for tomorrow? How did I do?”
You gesture towards the T.V., “I just saw it actually, you were great, as always. I might not even need a dollar tomorrow.”
A pause on the other end of the line, “Oh, yeah! I was meaning to ask, how are you coming on your ‘Bad Weatherman Money’.?
You crack your first real smile of the day, “First off, that is not what it is called and secondly, I am actually really close to reaching enough to get out of here for a little while.”
You can hear your brother clearing his throat, “You know, I can just give you money for a vacation. I don’t mind and I really think you need the rest and…”
You feel your face flush with heat as you interrupt, “No, no, no. I have to do this on my own. I appreciate it, I really do but this is for me, from me.”
“Okay, okay. it was just a suggestion. Well, good luck with that, talk to you later!”
“Bye,” you hang up.
The next morning, the sun beats down and burns up the few rain clouds left in the sky.
Clink. Clink. Clink. Clink.
That night you watch the news, “Prepare for the rain to return, the wave of heat is just passing through.
The following week was one of the hottest and driest you had ever experienced.
Clink. Clink. Clink. Clink.
The weather reports changed their minds, the rain had moved on and the city could expect a continual rise in heat for the near future.
The week after, thunderstorms shook every building and the air itself felt flooded.
Week after week after week after week.
Clink. Clink. Clink. Clink.
You wake up one Saturday, and decide to count. The coins spill out onto the floor in a cascading metallic waterfall. Each jug is emptied and you feel a little bit like a dragon, surrounded by mounds of treasure. Hours later your eyes are strained, you’re surrounded by papers full of tally marks, the coins are once again in the jars, and you cannot stop smiling. You finally have enough! A peace falls over you and you rush to the bedroom, throwing clothes in a bag and calling the office as quickly as possible. The business obligations completed, you make another call.
“Nice job!” your brother crows. “Tell me when and I’ll come drive you to the airport!”
Suitcase at your feet, you hug your brother goodbye. He is buzzing with comments and adulations but your mind is already kicked back in a secluded cabin. You thank your brother for the ride and do not even try to hide your grin as you turn towards the flight attendant and hand her your ticket.
As you walk up the ramp towards the door of the plane, your eyes are fixed on the freedom that is finally in reach. You do not notice your brother as he smiles at you, pulls out his phone, makes a call and says, “Mission accomplished Phil, we can start reporting the actual weather again. I owe you one!”