The Carding Chronicles are short stories and sketches about the little town no one’s ever been able to find on a map. If you hit the subscribe button to the right, the Chronicles will be delivered right to your inbox.
When Jade Allbright’s eyes flew open that morning, she froze in place—breath held—so she could count her heartbeats. One, two, three, four…
“It’s real,” she said aloud. And then she hugged herself. This morning, Jade Allbright would step over the threshold from being a student of the weather to being a legitimate, professional weather forecaster.
On Dirt Road Radio.
Her bare feet hit the floor—one,two—and she squealed when her skin met the cold wood so that she nearly repealed the law of gravity in her rush to the bathroom.
“This isn’t right,” she muttered. “Too cold for the middle of October.”
But just then, movement outside the small window caught her eye. Well, actually to be completely accurate, several small movements caught her eye.
Snow—squalling, bawling, barreling-in-the-wind snow. Jade rushed to the big kitchen window in order to take in more of the yellow, orange and red landscape.
“Snow,” she sighed. “In the middle of peak foliage.” She grabbed her cellphone to check the National Weather Service then tapped a few keys to check on Canada’s version of the same. When the phone rang, she nearly dropped it.
It was her boss, Kevin Slade. “Care to come in early on your first day?” he asked.
Jade glanced at the barely-light world outside her window. “Sure,” she said. You’re my boss, she thought, and it’s my first day on my dream job. Of course I’m going to do anything you ask. “Um, can I ask why?”
Jade had been hired to do the midday and evening forecasts because Slade was an early riser.
“It’s snowing,” he said. She heard the chuckle in his voice.
“Yeah, and blowing like hell,” she said, reaching for her jeans. “But why…?”
“I’m not telling them,” Slade said.
Am I missing something, Jade asked herself. “Um, not telling who what?”
“Not telling our listeners that we’re getting our first snow on October fifteenth,” he said, slurping coffee. “I thought I’d let you do that. Then when they call to complain, you can answer the phone.”
“People are going to call and complain about something I can’t control?” Jade asked.
“Yep, and loudly too,” Slade said. “Folks haven’t had a chance to put everything away for the winter yet, and they still have to rake up the leaves, and put their gardens to bed. They’re gonna want to blame somebody, and I figure this would be a good way for you to make your first impression. I’ll bet they didn’t teach you anything about this in weather school, did they?”
Jade found two matching socks in her drawer, and sat down to put them on her now very-cold feet. “But wouldn’t you be better at that than I am?” she asked. “I mean, it’s my first day.”
“Yeah, I thought about that but you see,” more coffee slurping, “I think it’s better this way because no one knows what you look like yet so you can still go to the grocery store without folks stopping you to complain. I figure it will take you about twenty minutes to drive from Tennyson’s place to the station. I’ll make a fresh pot of coffee.”
He hung up, and Jade stared at her phone’s screen for a minute. Then she sighed, and thought about her student loan payments, and the rent on the gem apartment she had found in Lee and Chris Tennyson’s remodeled barn, and how much she loved watching the way the weather turned and twisted and double-backed in Vermont.
Outside, the wind shifted and howled, shredding the thin cloud cover to the west until patches of blue bled through the gray. The sun took full advantage of the opening, beaming a spotlight on the radiant leaf canopy, and Jade caught her breath at the splendid visual gift.
Then the wind shifted again, the clouds hid the sun, and the color drained from the hillside. But it was enough. Jade shrugged into her jacket, found her keys, and opened the door.
“That’s why we live here,” she reminded herself as she stepped outside.