Bad Weather By D. I. Jolly

To say that the weather was bad was to say that nature was bad, and the mere concept that weather could be good or bad was to anthropomorphise it beyond the point that Patrick was comfortable. Besides he quite liked gentle rain and a cold breeze. It gave him the excuse he wanted to stay home. But still, when it actually came down to communicating that, he hated to say it was due to bad weather. Instead, he preferred to say things like;

“Not sure if I want to go out in this, do you?” Or, “seems like the Heavens are about to open.” But he wasn’t such a huge fan of that phrase either, because it implied to him that not only was there a Heaven (which could then mean there was also a Hell) but also, that Heaven could be closed.

Not that any of that mattered, since on that day, the sun was shining, the sky was a range from light-sky blue to dark-sky blue, and the only clouds were thin and delicate, and looked more like floating dreams than a pending storm.

It was, by most other people’s standards, good weather. So, Patrick had been convinced to spend some time sitting outside a coffee shop with his best friend, Rebecca, and her brother, Harry.

They were nice people, close for siblings in their 30s, and usually considered fun. Patrick, on the other hand, was not. He was shy and quiet, and enjoyed being alone most of the time. He thought deep thoughts about the nature of nature and the words used to describe it, the deeper meaning of those words, and how those deeper meanings impacted the imagination and understanding of the weather. He would then unpack those ideas further until he was suitably overwhelmed by something that only seemed to matter to him, and then he would have a small breakdown in the form of going to bed in the early afternoon and then explain in great detail to his therapist that weather could neither be good nor bad, but instead was simply weather, and that no one seemed to care about it as much as he did, and that that was why he was so lonely. Not because he’d cancelled every plan that had come his way for a full week. Despite promising that he would do better.

“I did make an effort. Dr Edwards, it’s just that this whole weather debate popped up and I just couldn’t face it. I’m sorry, I’ll do better next time. Oh, and actually, I do have plans for this afternoon, which I haven’t cancelled… and won’t cancel.”

Dr Edwards had heard it all before but noted that Patrick was actually getting better. He hadn’t tried to cancel therapy using the line that ‘sometimes self-care meant not going to therapy’, which he had done a few times in the past. He also hadn’t needed to be pushed into opening up about why he hadn’t left the house since their last session.

And then, after therapy, he went to meet up with Rebecca and Harry.

Patrick had met Rebecca in a hotel bar, in what was possibly the only time Patrick had ever taken himself to a bar. He had been visiting the city as a private little investigation to see if he wanted to apply for a job there. It had been almost the perfect position for him. He could work from home most days, but had to be available to come into the office if needed. Which meant he would need to move. So, he decided to scope out the city and see if it fit.

Then, feeling braver than usual, he went to the bar to have a drink because that’s what he told himself people who travelled alone and stayed in hotels do. And that’s when he met Rebecca. She was the hotel barmaid, so he had to talk to her to order his drink. She had been friendly and nice. And not knowing how to respond, he had been friendly and nice in turn. So, they spoke for about an hour, and at the end of that hour, she invited him to join her and some friends for lunch the next day, which, in a moment of almost unrecognisable spontaneity, he did.

There he met her girlfriend, Heather, and some of their friends and they had all been friendly and nice. That night he went back to his hotel and applied for the job, found himself an apartment and had his things moved.

When asked, he always said that he had already applied before visiting, and was offered the job that day, but that was because he was a little too embarrassed to admit that he’d moved because someone was nice to him in a bar.

It was a few weeks later that he met Harry, and the three of them started to spend time together. Which for them was just once in a while, but for Patrick was almost his entire social life.

By the second cup of coffee and the third time through chapter 3 of the book Patrick had brought with to seem casual and interesting, Harry turned to him and said with a smile,

“Do you have any big plans for the Summer? Any trips planned?”

Patrick’s mind flashed to an image of a blank day planner and a gauge in his head labelled ‘desire to travel’ sitting firmly at zero.

“No, not really, thought maybe I’d get out of the city a little bit, but not sure yet. You guys?”

“We were thinking of a few music festivals, and Rebecca is apparently going to some island getaway next month.”

Patrick looked at her puzzled, since she’d not mentioned it before and it was only a month away.

“It’s my anniversary gift to Heather. We’ve been together five years this year, and I thought it would be romantic.”

Harry let out a cheerful laugh.

“It’s super romantic, I’m not actually teasing you, my love, I’m just insanely jealous.”

A voice in Patrick’s mind said envious, but he managed to keep it in his head and instead said.

“That’s really lovely. I looked into doing something like that once but got tied up reading B&B horror stories in the 1-star review category. I actually have a little folder of all the places that I would still think are suitable, if you like. I mean if you haven’t already booked everything.”

It was only a month away so he couldn’t imagine anyone not having everything already booked, but Rebecca’s face lit up.

“That would be great, yes please, send it over. I only had the idea a couple of days ago and spontaneously booked the flights. I haven’t arranged anything else.”

Patrick smiled and forced down a panic attack, and then said,

“That’s really lovely, I’ll send it over when I get home.”

Rebecca reached across the table and gave his hand a squeeze.

For a moment the three sat in an almost comfortable silence as Patrick’s anxiety started to build along with the thought that it was now his turn to start a conversation, but before it peaked, Harry started giving Rebecca travel advice and Patrick let out a breath, sipped his coffee and started reading chapter 3 for the fourth time.

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