It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man with young kids confined in the house in a rainy day must be in want of a nanny or a good way to entertain them.
No one knows this better than Leo. He had never thought much of rainy days before having kids. Rain was just a small nuisance to vaguely take into consideration while preparing to go out. It's raining too much, take the umbrella. It's just drizzling, think it over. If you need your hair on point, take the umbrella. If you don't, just get wet. Those were simpler times.
Now, every time it rains and they do have to go out, it's not just the umbrella he has to remember, but a whole caravan of different things. The twins have Leo and Blaine's same hair, which is a gift and a curse at the same time. It's a lush mane of lucid black curls, but it's a pain in the ass to keep it that way, especially on a rainy day. If it rains, umbrellas are not enough. The kids must wear a hat, for two fundamental reasons: one, you don't want to spend hours try to comb the mess on their head later; two, you don't want people to see your children with messy hair, or messy anything really. Strangers are quick to judge, and you always end to be the culprit.
Once hats are covered, you need rubber boots. Especially for Logan, who likes to splash around in puddles. In fact, he's convinced that this is a proper sport. And since he's the current house champion, that's what he wants to be when he grows up: professional puddle splasher at the Olympics. Leo can't really blame him. He wanted to be an ice-cream taster at some point in his life, and he was way older than his son.
After hats and boots, it's time for raincoats, scarves and gloves if it's too cold outside. By then, half an hour has gone by trying to make them wear everything, which is not easy when usually one undresses while you try to dress the other. But this is really nothing compared to what rain means when they can't go out at all.
Their house came with a pretty big garden, that's one of the reasons Blaine chose it. It's not your typical backyard, but a stretch of soft grass, wide enough to accommodate a big patio with an outdoor fire pit on one side and a small-size playground on the other. The twins have two different toy houses, a tiny slide, a swing set, a trampoline and a sandbox, where Barbies go to the beach and toy cars land after looping the loop on the wooden race track, which is also there even though it's not exactly an outdoor toy. It's their little kingdom – one they learned to rule together – and they can stay there as long as they want, 'cause the garden is fenced and perfectly safe; plus, the playground can be seen from most of the windows on that side of the house, which makes it the perfect spot for them to be when their fathers can't be there with them.
When it rains, though, the garden is not an option, and they are forced to stay inside. Now, they are not children in need and this is certainly not an humble house. Logan and Harper's bedroom doesn't lack toys, dolls, crayons or play-doh of any kind, size and color. And if they just go downstairs, there's a virtual library well stocked with a wide range of video games, movies and cartoons for them to choose from, all perfectly suitable for their age thanks to the kids filter. They could literally do a different game every hour and play for a month straight, but they don't.
When it rains, suddenly there's nothing to do and they seem to get bored much more quickly. Usually, they try – for five, ten minutes top – to find a game they could play, and then just show up at Leo's door, hoping he will know what to do. That's what's happening now. The door of his studio opens and the twins spills inside the room like water. “Dad...” Harper starts.
Leo types in the last two words of a sentence and then turns around. “...We are bored,” he finishes for her.
Harper doesn't seem bothered by his subtle mocking of their usual opening line. Everything works for her if her message comes across. “Yes,” she nods, walking to the bean bag in the corner and letting herself go on it. Her brother goes straight for his father, instead, and Leo picks him up. “Why don't you play with... building blocks?”
“I don't want to,” Harper says.
“Do a puzzle?”
“He doesn't want to,” Harper says again, while Logan shakes his head. Puzzles are annoying to him because he needs more time than his sister to do one. Either she always finishes first if they are doing two different puzzles or she gets pissed at him for being too slow and finishes it herself if they're doing the same one.
“Fine. Why don't you color something in your coloring books?”
Harper makes a face. “We did that yesterday,” she says. And God forbid they do the same thing today.
Leo sighs, giving up hope to resume his writing any time soon. “All right. What about....” he thinks about it, looking around the room for something to inspire him. Then, he sees a parcel of papers on his desk and he suddenly knows what to do. “I tell you a story and we see if it stops raining by the end of it?”
“Yes!” They both scream, raising their arms. Blaine's the most charming, softer dad. Timmy's the cool big brother. But nobody beats Leo at storytelling.
“All right, little monkeys,” he grabs the pages and sits down on the floor with them. They instantly crawl all over him, watching the lines of tiny black letters they can't read yet. Leo wrote this little fairy tale a few weeks ago as a way of taking his mind off from his latest book before starting the editing. He doesn't know what to do with it yet – if it's just a story he might want to post somewhere or if it's good enough to make a children book out of it – but what better way to test it if not reading it to his harshest judges?
“What is it called?” Harper asked.
“It doesn't have a title yet,” Leo answers. “You're the first people to hear it. Are you ready?”
“Good.” Leo clears his throat and starts reading. “Once upon a time, when the world was being built, Management thought there shouldn't be only one weather. Too much Sun would dry the plants. Too much rain would flood them. Too much wind would ruffle their leaves and tear them off the branches. And too much snow, alas!, would freeze all the little flowers and leave the animals with nothing to eat.”
“Poor animals,” Logan comments, nodding seriously. “They would sleep all the time, wouldn't they?”
“Exactly,” Leo writes down to add hibernation somewhere in the mix. “What the world needed was balance, which means a little bit of everything, and so Management gave the four jobs to four people. Mrs. Mistral would rule the winds. She would make sure they blew gently during Summer to make the heat a little easier to bear, and that they blew strong and chill as they were supposed to in Winter.”
“How does she look like?” Harper asks.
Leo looks at her. “I don't know yet. What do you think she should look like?”
Harper thinks about it for a moment. “She's got long, straight hair. And it moves all the time because of the wind. It is white. No. Silver. Silver long hair.”
“Duly noted,” Leo says, scribbling these new information on the side of the page. Maybe he can ask Cody to draw some illustrations. This could be an illustrated children book, after all. “Mr. Snowflake was in charge of the snow, of course. He would make it fall in Winter and he would be ready to have it melting at the first sign of Spring.”
“I think Mr. Snowflake should be a nice old man with white hair and a big white mustache like Mr. Bagley,” Logan says. Harper nods in approval.
“Right.” Leo chuckles and takes that note too. He wonders if the postman would be happy to know that. “Mr. Storm was the man of the rain, the downpour and all the things in between. His duty was to water the plants and refill the rivers, and to know when it had rained enough. He was--”
“Tall and handsome and a little scary when he gets mad,” Harper says. “And strong too. Like daddy.”
Leo can't help but laugh this time. “Really?”
“Yes,” Harper nods. “He's got black hair and commands everything with his magic stick.”
It's hard not to laugh at this one too. “Yeah, he does sound like daddy, doesn't he?” He snorts, and then coughs, trying to regain his composure. “Then finally came Miss Merry Weather. Her responsibility was the Sun. It was no easy task, you see, because the temperature had to be constantly regulated. It couldn't be too hot or too cold during Fall and Spring, and the Sun had to burn the brightest during Summer and on the lowest setting on Winter. And only she knew how to do that. Management had really high hopes for her.”
“What does she look like?” Logan asks.
“Harper, what do you say?”
The kid seems to think about it. “She can be tiny,” she says, “like uncle Cody. But blonde, like Timmy.”
“I think that might work,” Leo nods, the idea of putting Cody in his works is always welcoming to him. “So, everything worked perfectly well for a very long time. One season followed another and the weather was always well executed. Management was really satisfied. Then, people started polluting the environment, which means they started pouring poison in the water and in the air, killing all the animals and the plants. All four of the weather people were affected by this, but no one more than Mr. Storm. Polluted water would evaporate into the clouds and become polluted rain in an endless cycle, which means a cycle that never ever ends. This way, Mr. Storm, who controlled the water, would get more and more poison every day, and that made him crazy.”
Leo says the last words in a mysterious voice and a random, totally unexpected thunder adds to the effect. The twins are both startled, and Logan glues himself to Leo's side. “Is he going to do something bad?” He asks, a little worried.
“Yes. Are you scared?” Leo asks, throwing his arm around him and hugging him closer.
Logan shakes his head, but holds onto his father's shirt for dear life. “Right, I can see that,” Leo chuckles, but he learned to read the signs. Logan is scared, but he really wants to see what's going to happen. “Mr. Storm wasn't himself anymore, and so it started raining all the time. The rivers overflowed, the sky was filled with big dark clouds, it was so dark already that people had to go out with torches even during the day. But it wasn't enough. Mr. Storm wanted more. He was convinced that he was too smart, too strong and too powerful to control only the rain. He wanted all the other things too. The first was Mistral. One day she was there, the next she was gone. Mr. Storm kidnapped her and locked her in the basement of his house. 'Please, free me,' she would beg him, but he didn't listen. He took the winds from her and with them he caused even more damage. Now he could raise waves that were a hundred feet tall and let them crash upon towns and cities, destroying everything.”
“He was very evil,” Logan nods.
“Very, indeed,” Leo confirms. “But the winds were not enough. He wanted more. He wanted the snow, and so he went. He grabbed Snowflake and locked him in the basement too. “Please, you can't do this!” He would say to him, but Mr. Storm didn't listen. He took the snow from him and with them he caused even more damage. Now he could freeze water and lower the temperature so much that people would become ice sculptures just walking outside their house. It was chaos.”
“Who's going to stop him?” Harper asks.
“Management thought it was over. Mr. Storm had gone mad and nothing could stop him, but there was, actually, someone who could. Miss Merry Weather was not going to give him the Sun. So, when he came for her, she stood her ground, which means that she was ready to fight.”
“And they fought?” Logan asks.
“Of course, they did. They fought and fought. If Mr. Storm made it rain over her, Miss Merry Weather would vaporize water. If Mr. Storm froze the ground beneath her feet, she would melt the ice. If he raised a cold wind, Miss Merry Weather would turn it warm and use it to fly. They fought for a very long time, but since Mr. Storm had been already governing all the elements before the fight, he was the first one to get tired. Miss Merry Weather, instead, she was fresh as a daisy.”
“Did she kill him?” Harper asks, frowning.
“No, she didn't. She knew that Mr. Storm was not bad, he was just crazy because of all the poison he was forced to absorb,” Leo explains. “So, when she saw that he was so tired that he couldn't attack her anymore, she went near him. All that rage had consumed some of the poison in him, and so he could think again, at least a little. 'What have I done? How can I fix this?' He asked. 'You can't,' She said. 'Not alone.' And so, Miss Merry Weather freed Mrs. Mistral and Mr. Snowflake and together the four of them tidied up the world. 'None of us can control everything,' Merry Weather said. 'Oh, I know that,' Mr. Storm said, feeling a little bit better now. 'It was the poison, it confused me.' But now they had another problem.”
“The poison,” Harper says, knowingly. “People didn't stop putting poison everywhere!”
“Right!” Leo says, surprised. Sometimes his daughter picks things up so fast that he wonders if he just writes stories too easy for her to understand or if she's just that smart. “They must find a way to teach people not to pollute the environment. One, because it wasn't the best thing to do. Two, because poison would make Mr. Storm mad in no time again. But, they found out something marvelous...”
“People had been quite scared by what had just happened. By the river overflowing, the frighting waves, the cold winds, and the earthquakes and the fires. They knew it was their fault. They just felt it in their heart. And so they promised solemnly that they were not going to do it again. Mr. Storm was not going to be mad again and the world would always be safe from that day on.”
The twins clapped happily, cheering up the happy ending. Leo thinks he will have to add some kind of epilogue to the story, something that will underline the importance of recycling and taking care of the planet, something that will help Mark selling the book, so to speak, but for the moment the story served its purpose because the twins are pretty content with it and the best part of an hour has passed.
“Look, Dad!” Harper says, pointing at the window. “Mr. Storm's work is done.”
It doesn't actually rain anymore and there's a timid sun peeking out from behind big gray clouds that are slowly fading to white. “The world had to be watered, like the plant in the kitchen,” Leo nodded. Now that he thinks about it, he hasn't watered it in a week. Neither he nor Blaine have a green thumb. It's quite the miracle that that gardenia is still living to this day. Pretty stubborn thing.
“But now it's Miss Merry Weather's turn, right?” Logan asks.
“Can we go outside and see if we can spot her?” Harper asks.
Leo thinks about it. Letting them go outside just after it rained means mud all over the floors, but it also means being able to work in peace for at least another couple of hours. And what's a little mud on the floor anyway? “All right, but you wear your rubber boots and your raincoats. And no sitting on the wet grass!” He has to scream the last part, because the two monkeys are already running downstairs, screaming in joy. He waits next to the window to see them coming out in the backyard and make sure they are dressed properly.
For a while, he just watches them play; by the look of it, Harper has already taken the lead. She's clearly playing the part of Mr. Storm, making grand gestures with a wand made out of a wooden stick and one of her pink rubber bands. Logan, playing Merry Weather, is doing his best to hinder his sister's attacks, but he's running and hiding more often than not. It seems likely that the Earth will yield under Mr. Storm's poison-induced craziness this time.
The world is doomed, so he can go back to his computer. He sits down, watches the screen for a few moments and then remembers there was a call he meant to do. His book can wait a little longer.
Cody has always been moody in a rainy day and it's his duty as a friend to cheer him up. Besides, can he pass the chance to talk with Miss Merry Weather when he's just one phone call away?