Stormdawn – #writephoto
Tom fiddled with the small dial labelled ‘red’, tweaking it millimetre by millimetre until the sky’s hue was a more pleasing shade of deep pink. Everyone thought Atmospheric Controller was a purely technical job. ‘Boring’, most deemed it. Kids didn’t even glance twice at his stall on Careers Day. They just didn’t appreciate the artistry. The vision. Left to them, the sky would stay the same boring blue every day. They probably wouldn’t even bother with the stars at night.
Tapping his chin, he considered the sky from his view behind the mountaintop window. Perhaps even more red was needed. The Chief Controller had scheduled a storm for the afternoon. Really shake things up and get people talking, she said. And everybody knew that the sky was red in the morning before a storm. Something about sailors. Or shepherds. Or mackerel, which he read once was a type fish that went extinct not long after the shrew. Whatever that was.
He tweaked the dial again. A beautiful cerise, paling to a rich orange in the distance. Perfect. Almost. Turning to the Cloud Generator, he pulled for a few seconds on the lever labelled ‘altocumulus’. Wisps of water vapour and steam went rolling across the open vista.
Now it was perfect.
The control room door squealed open and Sanjay appeared with a box of donuts. “Hope you don’t mind jam,” he said. “It was all they had left.”
“C’mon buddy, what’ve I told you about wearing that in here?” Tom pointed to his best friend’s dark blue boiler suit, canvas for myriad stains of all shapes, sizes and colours.
“Sorry; sanitation’s not as glorious a job as weather. For what it’s worth, I’ve been in the River Control Room all day, safe and dry. I promise these stains are old.”
Tom let the excuse pass with a quiet grunt as Sanjay took a seat in the second chair and plonked his booted feet up on the edge of the Rain Console. Jam donut halfway to his mouth, he paused when he noticed the sky.
“Aw, not another storm!”
“Hey, it’s been months since the last one. Jenny says we can’t allow people to get complacent. One day we’ll have to go back to the Outside, where storms can happen at random.”
“‘Jenny’ says that, does she?” Sanjay teased. Tom managed to keep his blush under control through sheer force of will. “You gonna ask her out?”
“I dunno. I mean, she’s the Chief. It could end up being awkward. And I heard she was interested in a guy over in Family Planning. You know the perks those Family Planning people get. I heard they can even allot themselves three kids, if they want.”
“Ah, but you have something they don’t: the heart of an artist!”
“You mock me now, but wait until you see the sunset I’ve got planned for tonight. People will weep at the beauty. Or they would, if they weren’t such cynical jerks.”
Tom pushed the ‘auto’ button on the console and sat back to watch the display. Even Sanjay fell silent as the wispy clouds rolled across a slowly lightening orange-gold sky. These were the moments worth painting. The times between times, when the sun was high or low and the moon was ready to peep from behind the horizon. Sometimes, he had to remind himself that none of this was real.
“Y’ever wonder whether the sky is this beautiful outside the Dome?” Sanjay asked at last.
Tom nodded. “I’ve seen pictures. They were this beautiful. More, even.”
“I hope we get to see it in our lifetime. Even if it means mooks like us will be out of a job.”
Tom merely nodded again. To see the sky… the real sky… yes, it would be worth losing his job over. And one day, he hoped he could meet the artist who had painted that canvas.
I spent a lot of time thinking about Sue Vincent’s last #writephoto prompt. Normally ideas come quite quickly to me, but this one took a few days to fully realise, and it wasn’t my first attempt. I hope you enjoy my take on ‘Daybreak’, and check out Sue’s blog for more stories and poems based on the picture.