The Weather Man

Kacy Toombs

I know some people at this party. Aunty Leslie is over by Mum, arm around her elbow.  They are talking to some people I don’t know. Mum is wearing that black dress I don’t like: it makes her look pointy. The bones in her chest poke out. Her shoulders are like a bird’s wing.  

Pop-pop is sitting quietly in the corner. I’ve never seen anyone as old as him. He isn’t doing much; his eyes are blank. ‘Off with the fairies’ Mum would have said. When I pointed at him and laughed Mum said it was ‘inappropriate’.  

Nana is sitting next to me. She has a piece of purple string that she has made into a bridge. She calls it ‘Cat’s Cradle’. She’s trying to teach me how to make the bridge but it’s too hard. Instead I grab my piece of string and wiggle it on the table. It moves like a snake.  

‘Now Brennan, hold out your fingers darling, just like Nana is doing.’  

I drop my string and hold my hands out to match hers. She places her string bridge over my fingers and now I am holding the bridge. It sags a little in my fingers.  

‘Cool!’ I say.  

I see Grampa walking to our table holding a paper plate. I smile at him and hold up my hands high.  

‘Grampa look! Look! I’m doing it!’  

‘Woah! Look at you go buddy. Here.’ He places the plate in front of me.  Sandwiches cut into triangles, ham and cheese, butter with cucumber; melon, green and shiny, cut up into cubes; a small chocolate cupcake, the icing spiralling up like a tower.  

‘Eh Nana! Nana!’ I wave my knotted hands at her.   

She laughs and takes the bridge off me. I grab a piece of the melon and pop it into my mouth. Juice dribbles out and it’s so sweet it hurts my cheeks. Nana wipes my mouth with a napkin and I scrunch my eyes. 

‘Oh, that looks delicious!’  

I open my eyes to see a tall lady standing over me.  She has a thing on her head that looks like a big black spider. It covers nearly half of her face.  

Grampa puts his hand on my shoulder and gives it a squeeze. ‘Ho! It is! Isn’t it Bren?’ Nana smiles at me. I nod.  

Tall Lady pulls out a chair next to me, spider’s legs trembling as she sits. She leans in close and I can see her eyes are black and smudgy. Her red lips bleed into the wrinkles around her mouth. She looks like a horror.  

Grampa sits in the chair next to her. She chats with Nana and Grampa for a while. I finish my food, leaving the crusts of the sandwiches, and they are still talking. I start ripping at the edges of the paper plate and huff. Tall Lady looks at me and smiles in a way that makes me think I’m in trouble. I stop ripping the plate and pull at my shirt collar. It’s starting to feel tight.  

‘It was lovely seeing you again.’ Tall Lady stands, pushing the chair in. ‘I just wish it was under better circumstances.’ 

‘Of course,’ says Nana 

Tall lady smiles at me. I look away.  

‘You be strong now,’ she says. ‘For Mum, okay?’  


‘Good boy.’ She walks away and I lose her in the crowd. It’s hard to keep track with everyone in the same colours.  

‘Who is that?’ I look at Nana 

‘She’s your Great Aunt Olivia.’  

‘She doesn’t seem great.’  

Grampa laughs. Nana smacks him and growls. He rubs his arm. ‘That’s not very nice Bren,’ Nana says.  


‘It just means that she was your father’s aunt love.’  

‘Dad has a aunt?’  

An aunt. And yes.’ Nana clears away my plate, swiping at crumbs and bits of paper. ‘Dad has an aunt.’  

I swing my legs under the table – I didn’t know that Dad could have an aunt.   

‘Can I go play?’  

‘Of course dear, just take Grampa with you.’ Grampa huffs as he gets up from his chair. ‘Look after him,’ Nana says. 

‘I will,’ says Grampa as he kisses her.  

‘Yuck!’ I say.  

‘Come on you!’ he says, grabbing my hand. ‘Let’s go.’  

Grampa’s hand is warm and soft. He takes me towards the door where Mum and Aunty Leslie are standing.   

‘Mummy!’ I let go and run up and hug her.   

‘Brennan, what have I told you about jumping on people?’   


Grampa laughs. ‘We’re just on our way out for some fresh air. I’ll keep an eye on him, don’t worry.”   

‘Yeah! I’m gonna go on the slides and the swing. I’m gonna go up, up, up, really high!’  

‘That sounds fun, Brennan!’ Aunty Leslie says.   

‘Make sure you behave for Grampa,’ Mum says. ‘Okay?’ 

‘Yes Mum.’  

‘Oh, he’ll be fine! Nothing I haven’t handled before.’ Grampa winks.  

‘Bye Mum!’ I wave as we turn to leave. Her arms stay by her sides. I wonder when Dad will be back.  


Mum is lying on the carpet in the TV room. Her hair is like a tangle of straw on her head. Her eyes are closed. She doesn’t sleep in her room anymore. 



‘Can you make me fly?’  

She opens an eye a tiny bit and stares at me from under it. I make a pop sound with my mouth and pull down on my shirt.  


She takes a deep breath and rolls on her back. ‘Come on then.’  

She grabs my hands and puts her feet on my belly. She pushes me upwards and I am flying on top of her. She doesn’t make me fly like Dad did. Dad would make the sounds and swish me around like a superhero. Mum is still. Her feet hurt and dig into my tummy.  

She puts me back on the ground and rolls onto her side. ‘You’re getting too big,’ she says into the carpet.  


I jump up, point at the TV and scream,  

‘Mum. Mum! It’s Dad! Dad’s on the TV!’ 

Mum comes rushing in, hands steaming an angry red, soap bubbles dripping down her fingers like liquid fluff.  

The man on the TV continues to talk, now waving at the numbers behind him.  There are pictures, one after the other: a sun; a sun behind clouds; clouds; a cloud with a lightning bolt.  

‘That’s not him.’  

‘It is! It is him!’  

Mum turns back into the kitchen. I follow her but stop at the line where carpet meets tile. I hear the thumps of plates in the sink, the slap of water as it hits the floor.  Mum mutters a bad word under her breath.  

I edge my toes onto the tiles. Mum has a tea-towel in her hands, mopping at the spilt water. She tosses it to the side and plunges her hands back into the sink.  

‘It was him. 

Mum stops, staring down at the soap bubbles. She shakes her dripping hands and wipes her eyes with the back of her wrist.  

‘Your Dad had black hair, Brennan,’ she says.  

I form a silent oh with my lips, my face grows hot, and my tummy starts doing somersaults.   


Mum sighs. She’s making that face. The one she makes when I haven’t put my toys away. 

‘It’s not your fault Bren.’   

I try to see what Dad looks like. His feet on my tummy as I fly over him like a superhero. I look down but all I can see is the weatherman. His tan face smiling. His teeth too white. His face starts to rumble like grey storm clouds and I’ve flied up too high and soon I don’t even know what he looks like.   

Mum took away all of Dad’s pictures. 

Author: Kacy Toombs is a second year student majoring in Creative Writing. When not procrastinating, Kacy likes to express herself through art and writing. You can often find her doodling in the margins of her books during lectures. The majority of her writing focuses on the interior minds of characters who feel like they don’t have a voice. Many of her works feature children as her main characters, or lost young adults who don’t know who they are yet.

Artist: Emma Bruce is a multi-disciplinary visual artist from Yugambeh country working out of Meanjin. Her work discusses the relationship modern society has with the environment through an archival style in hopes to preserve the experience of being in the natural world. Her work hopes to invite her audience to partake in activities that nurture native flora and fauna as well as create a sense of pride to be part of it.

Editors: Kelly Rouzbehi and Breeh Botsford