Lourdes’s pick: the first ever short story published on YARN
Originally published on February 13, 2010 “The Weather” is one of the first publications on YARN. Writer Giulia Caterini effortlessly captures the moment when bad news is unavoidable – be it the climatic or familial kind. More than anything, though, this is a gripping character study. The fact that there are no names for these characters, and the setting is ambiguous, makes this more apparent and more intense. Most importantly, Giulia being only 16-years-old at the time gives this story greater credence and weight.
BTW: Giulia tells us that she was accepted to Duke University for the fall. Congrats, Giulia!!!
By Giulia Caterini
It’s debatable whether or not he is aware that he’s doing it, but it’s so glaringly obvious. He makes you want to scream laughter into his face so hard that it would make the white, soft skin flap behind his head. You’d turn him into a Looney Toon, but with all the pain of real life.
“Sit, sit,” he says, going to great lengths to emphasize the fact that what he is about tell you must be broken to you carefully.
“What is it Dad?” you ask, as if you don’t already know, exactly. He pauses for drama, over-exaggerates it, and then solemnly declares that it started raining pretty hard.
“Yes. Yes it has,” you respond.
You should be patient. Why should you blame this relatively innocent man for the nature of mankind? Because this is what humans do: they talk about the weather. We are fascinated by the cotton candy clouds with shades of white, grey, orange, and red drifting in the blue backdrop of the sky. It’s simple, really: we see the pretty colors and we get distracted, and then we forget what we really wanted to say.
“Oh man, why, would you look at that rain?” he says.
He must think you’re stupid. Maybe it’s because of your age, but since when has “young” been a synonym for “clueless”? It’s the other way around, I’d say: people tend to retreat into a little cage of idiocy and denial the older they get, while when they’re young they are able to see the rawest, most blistering truths around them.
“Yeah, it’s raining pretty hard,” you concede.
“The Weather Channel was wrong, they said it would rain on Wednesday,” he continues, “but would you look at that? It’s pouring!”
“Sometimes they get it wrong, you know.”
Maybe he knows that you know. How could he not after all? Sound has a way of meandering into rooms unapologetically; it never knocks first. It never asks you, “Hey, your mother and father are arguing again, wanna hear? Wanna hear them sling insults at each other, their shrill voices vying for attention in narrow hallways? What about that time when your mom broke the lamp? That was a great sound. Do you wanna hear it? Or, I know, how about her footsteps, only one set, as she slowly retreats to her bedroom while your father stays on the couch? Huh? Wanna?”
Manners, that’s it. Sound should really get some manners.
“Oh I know that, but today it was just ridiculous,” he drones on, “last night they said it was going to be sunny! Sunny!”
“Sunny would have been nicer, I guess.”
That’s what makes him so mad; that they got it wrong. Weathermen are the only human beings who have the gift of predicting the future. It doesn’t matter that it’s something as trivial as the weather; the simple fact that they can take a peek suddenly allows them to make claims of omnipotence. Today, the weatherman, with all his mystical powers, took a tumble and fell. If he doesn’t know what’s going to happen, then no one does. We are doomed.
“And to think that I was planning to take a stroll later today, maybe take the dog with me,” he continues.
Come on, why doesn’t he say it already.
“Guess you’re gonna have to cancel that plan,” you respond.
“Yeah I mean, there’s just no way now, hopefully tomorrow won’t be the same.”
“Maybe it’ll stop in a couple of hours, you should just wait a little.”
Spit it out. Spit it out.
God damn it, he has too much to say to talk about the weather.
“Well I don’t know, but I hope, I guess.”
“You know what, I think you’re right, when it rains this hard it usually stops pretty soon.” Say it, come on, come on, say it, say it. “I’m giving it another half hour.” For the love of Christ just say it, the pleasantries have been exchanged, the weather has been discussed, on to what he really wants to tell you now. “Another half hour, and then it’s gonna start drizzling. Then it will stop.”
You nod. There’s a pause.
Finally, finally. You’d think that you’d want him to delay this as much as possible; it’s truly amazing how impatient you are to go through one of the worst moments of your life.
“Son,” he states and takes a deep breath. He’s going to say it. He’s actually going to say it.
“There’s no easy way to tell you this, so I’m just gonna come right out with it.”
He pauses again, breathes in. Come on. Come on.
“Your mother and I are getting a divorce.”
You’d think that hearing it like this, the truth consolidated into a statement ready to punch you in the face would shake you, despite that fact that you knew it already. You were expecting some sort of life-changing reaction, maybe hatred towards your father, maybe the opposite, or some moving outburst of tears, or something or other of the sort. You must be sorry to disappoint yourself.
You see a worried, expectant look on his face. You nod several times, then look at him blankly. He probably wants you to say something now.
So you respond, “Hey uhm, I think the weather people said it might rain tomorrow also, but I guess they’re wrong since it rained today; maybe they were just a day early.”
About Giulia: She is sixteen years old, born in Rome, Italy. Her family moved to Curitiba, Brazil, when she was around six years old. Since then, she’s lived in Austria, Greece, and in Italy again. She then lived in New York City for one year, and subsequently began her high school career in CT at Greenwich Academy, where she is currently a Junior. She loves writing; she has attended the UVA Young Writers Workshop, has been recognized at the regional level by the Scholastic Awards (Gold Key), has been a finalist at the IMPACs, and has been published in “Connecticut Student Writers.”