They used to laugh at him, calling him the Weather Man with derision in their voices.
“Preserving storms in bottles? Really, Dad?” Even his oldest daughter thought he was wasting his time. “That’s seriously lame.”
But Sam – that was his real name – went on collecting, stuffing sunrises into jam jars and snow storms into pickle bottles. He even managed to cram a coastal fog into a container one day, but it had been a wild capture. The bottle – once a home for spicy Kalamata olives – had retained the faint odor of garlic and brine. He wasn’t sure the integrity of the fog could be maintained.
The mason jars, with their special two-part lids, he reserved for the violent thunderstorms, the fingers of “Dracula” lightning, and the blustery gale-force winds of minor hurricanes.
By the time he’d lined every wall of his garage with shelves of bottles and jars, they no longer had actual weather reporters on the air. Instead, a virtual assistant would provide daily, weekly, and monthly weather schedules, highlighting planned storms.
It would have been nice to blame the eventual breakdown of the weather nets on aliens or meteors, or even war, but the reality was that hardware sometimes breaks, and software sometimes glitches.
After the sixth week with no precipitation, the governor sent a representative to the Weather Man’s door.
“Dad! Some guy in a suit wants to talk about your bottles!”
He could have made a deal, extorted the government for millions. College tuition for all three kids, the last of the mortgage – all of that could have been covered.
But Sam wasn’t that kind of guy.
“Take them,” he said. “Take them and release them all at once and then send the Weather Corps to get rid of the dead Net.”
And so they did.
They took everything, except for one bottle, the oldest in Sam’s collection. They took them and dropped them from the edge of the atmosphere. For a few days, the weather was chaotic, but eventually it settled into something like Before.
And that lone bottle? The one Sam kept? That one, he gave to his oldest when she turned 21.
“What is it, Dad?”
“It’s a summer squall from the day you were born,” he told her. “I couldn’t save the whole day, but I managed to preserve the weather.”
Father and daughter stood on the deck of their beachfront home, and watched the fog roll in. It was a perfect moment, until the young woman sniffed the air.
“Do you smell olives?”