Monday, 28 December 2009

... a weather forecast.

The Weather Man.

My next door neighbour controls the weather.
He's an old man who mentally still lives in the year 1987.
I live in the year 2009.
He is 102 years old.
Now we all know he's knocking on deaths door, we can tell because on his day off the weather is always so neutral. It's not sunny but it's not gloomy. At least this way we know he's not in pain, but with each week that the temperature drops just a little, we all share the same look of a sad uncertainty.
The weather man has been around since before I was born so the story of how his gift was realised is a little blurry. Some say that when he was younger he asked people to challenge his gift by sitting in the centre of the town square listening to the stories and jokes of the towns people. They say that with every story heard, rays of sunshine would pour onto them shortly followed by rain until the whole sky was lit up with rainbow upon glorious rainbow.
Others say that he confided in a friend and the next morning was greeted with such scepticism that he burst into tears while the heavens opened and threw down drop upon drop of water.
There's no way of knowing, he doesn't talk much these days.
The town works in shifts; Six days a week, eight people will visit him, an hour each. He spends the rest of his day sleeping.
When we want the sun we will read him happy stories. When we want a warm glow we speak to him of our love endeavours. When we need the rain for our reservoirs we have no choice but to miss a few shifts because no one has the heart to watch him cry.
He doesn't respond physically any more, we have to read the weather in order to read him.
On Sundays we leave himself to himself because of his religion. He takes the day off to thank God for his gift.
So every Sunday we sit in our houses because we're scared to leave; no one wants to feel that it's gotten that little bit colder. We dread the uncertainty of what will happen without our weather man.
My shift is on a Monday morning, I'm telling you this story on my walk over to his house. Every week I knock on his door three times then place the key from under the doormat into the lock, then turn and enter.
There he is, the Weather Man sitting in his chair waiting for his morning story. I smile relieved that he's still okay.
“Hello Wilfred, I have a great story for you today.”
I open the curtains and edge closer to him. I pull up a chair and I begin reading him his own story. Or as much of it as I could make up of all the rumours around town.
He sits in his armchair and listens. Unaware of whether or not I should continue I look out the window and see rays out light emerge from between the clouds. He smiles at me, takes my hand and squeezes it slightly. I know now to continue so I do.
I finish the last line of the story as I hear a knock on the door; my hour's up. I look into his eyes and thank him for another beautiful day, he smiles again and on the window I hear the sound of soft rain hitting it and sliding down to form a puddle on the windowsill. I turn back to him to see a single tear from his closed eyes running down his cheek and pooling into the dimples from his smile.
I let the next reader in and begin my walk home. The rain bounces off my coat and settles into tiny bubbles, I reach out a hand to let it fall into my hand but as I pull my hand back in towards me to inspect I see not a bubble, but a tiny delicate snowflake.
It's snowing for the first time this town has seen in years.
I run back towards the house and look through the window to see the other reader on the phone. All I can hear through the window is “come quick... please... no pulse...” I switch my gaze over to the weather man who is sitting where I left him, the smile still on his face.
He looks peaceful.
I walk away from the house with a similar smile on my face, back towards my house with my bags packed and waiting for me in the hallway. I pick them up and start walking to the edge of town, towards my new life. Away from the town that will now forever snow.
Away from the town with the frozen architecture and the frozen hearted people who will always live in the memories of the sun and the man who will forever brighten their days.

And with this i give you a weather forecast.

1 comment:

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