Cloudy with a chance of public humiliation
THERE’S SOMETHING ESPECIALLY lovely about an overcast day. Clouds dipped in ink, the sky ready to crack open. The air turning crisp and sweet. It’s magic, the way the world seems to pause for a few moments right before a downpour, and I can never get enough of that heady anticipation—this sense that something extraordinary is about to happen.
Sometimes I think I could live in those moments forever.
“What was that?” my brother asks from the driver’s seat. It’s possible I’ve just let out a contented sigh. “Are you getting emotional about rain again?”
I’ve been staring—well, gazing—out the window as the early morning sky surrenders to a drizzle. “No. That doesn’t sound like something I’d do.”
Because it’s not just that I’m emotional about rain. It’s that rain means the thrill of tracking a cold front as it moves in from the Pacific. It means knee-high boots and cable-knit sweaters, and it’s simply a fact that those are the best clothes. I don’t make the rules.
For so many people, weather is small talk, the thing you discuss when you’ve run out of conversation topics at a party or you’re on a first date with a guy who lives in his parents’ basement and thinks you two could be really happy down there together. Can you believe the weather we’re having? It’s a source of joy or frustration, but rarely anything in the middle.
It’s never been small talk for me. Even if we’re due for six more months of gloom, I always miss it when summer comes.
“You’re lucky I love you so much.” Alex rakes a hand through the sleep-mussed red hair we almost share, only his is auburn and mine is a bright shock of ginger. “We’d just gotten past Orion’s fear of the dark, but now Cassie’s up at five if we’re lucky, four-thirty if we’re not. No one’s getting any sleep in the Abrams-Delgado house.”
“I told you she’s a little meteorologist in training.” I adore my brother’s five-year-old twins, and not just because they’re named after constellations. “Don’t tell her we have to do our own hair and makeup. Ruins the illusion.”
“She has to watch you every morning before preschool. Dinosaur-shaped pancakes and Aunt Ari on the TV.”
“The way God intended.”
“I must not have been paying attention that day in Hebrew school.” Alex stifles a yawn as we jigsaw around Green Lake. He lives on the Eastside and works in South Seattle, so he picked me up in my tree-lined Ravenna neighborhood and will drop me off at the station when we’re done.
His clock is always six minutes fast because Alex loves the extra motivation in the mornings. Right now it reads 6:08—usually late for me, but thanks to one of Torrance’s last-minute schedule changes, I won’t be on camera until the afternoon. I might end up staying awake for a full twenty hours, but my body’s gotten used to me messing with its internal clock. Mostly.
Still, imagining my tiny perfect niece transfixed by a weather report warms the very center of my heart.
Once upon a time, I did the exact same thing.
“Relax. It’s going to be great,” Alex says as I fidget with the zipper on my waterproof jacket, and then with the necklace buried in the fuzz of my sweater. I only roped him into this because I didn’t want to do it alone, but there’s always been a whisper-thin line between excitement and anxiety for me.
Even if my tells weren’t so obvious, he’d be able to sense my emotions with his eyes closed. At thirty, Alex is three years older than I am, but people used to think we were fraternal twins because we were inseparable as kids. That morphed into a friendly rivalry as teens, especially since we were in the habit of crushing on the same boys—most notably, this Adonis of a track star named Kellen who had no idea we existed, despite our appearance at every one of his meets to cheer him on. This was made clear on the day of the state championships, when I showed up with flowers and Alex with balloons, and Kellen blinked his gorgeous tide pool eyes at us and said, “Hey, do we go to the same school?”
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