No one saw it coming.
The black clouds had gathered out of nowhere, and descended upon the people without any warning, disrupting their routines and pulling them out of their structured plans for the day. Shops pulled down their shutters, people ran for shelter and the dogs, well, they just disappeared. Thunder rumbled in the sky, lighting it up with sudden flashes of white light. The rain drops hit against the roofs without much mercy, and the streets collected all these tears that the sky had suddenly exploded with.
For the seven year old boy in his room, it didn't matter much if the sky decided to drown the earth. All that mattered to him was the paper boat, that he was now making with his brother. He watched Max fold the paper intricately, his eyebrow scrunched in concentration. He could not take it anymore, the excitement of sailing his first paper boat of the year getting the better of him. He bounced around the room and said, "How is this taking so long? Hurry up!"
"Shut up Patty," Max said without taking his eyes off the boat.
"But this is taking so long!" he complained.
"Why don't you do something other than whine, huh? Go bring me the glue, I think I left it in the kitchen," Max said.
Patty got up and almost ran down the stairs. To say he was excited would be an understatement. He was thrilled. He had made boats before, but they never stood in the water for longer than five seconds. Max on the other hand was brilliant at it. He made the best boats ever. He had watched many of his boats sail down the road without the slightest reluctance; and so they had made this deal between them - Max made the boats and Patty launched them.
He walked into the kitchen and got the glue from the table. A flash of lightning lit up the sky for a second, making shadows on the table. He covered his ears against the oncoming thunder and waited for it to pass. However as the noise of the thunder receded from his ears, he heard something else - voices, and they weren't exactly quiet about it either. He had no problem recognizing the source however, he had only heard it so many times in his short life.
"If you had just bought the Tv I had picked out for us then maybe there would be something to watch on this damned day!" he heard his father's voice booming through the living room. He found himself walking towards the curtain that separated him from them. He did not understand why; it was the last place where he wanted to be.
"Maybe if you found some work instead of sitting around on the couch all day, you wouldn't have to complain about the Tv," his mother hissed. "Besides there's nothing wrong with the Tv, signal is out. It's raining outside, in case you haven't noticed."
"You calling me stupid, woman? Just because you wait tables all day, it makes you superior, does it?" Patty flinched as he watched his father get up, his voice increasing in volume until it almost drowned out the rain outside.
"At least I am doing something! And what are you doing? Lounging on the couch and drinking your beers all day!"
"Well it was my money that bought you those pretty clothes, you know? You should be more grateful," he said in a tone that made the hair on Patty's arm stand up in alarm.
"You know what? I am! I am grateful for those beers you keep drowning yourself in. Because at least when you drink yourself to death, there will be one less mouth to feed. You are just useless!"
His father made a move and Patty found his legs involuntarily stepping towards the scene. However before he could do so, a soft arm pulled him back and a hand covered his mouth. Max pulled him back into the kitchen and turned on him with a frown.
"What are you doing? I asked you to get the glue. Why couldn't you just do that?" he hissed.
Patty looked up at him with tears in his eyes. "What's going to happen?" he mumbled in a shaky voice, and flinched as the voices in the living room grew into shouting. Thunder rumbled in the sky, and he was glad for the momentary silence it brought from the room.
Max looked at him for a while and then pulled him into his arms. He could tell that he was trying to comfort him because Max hated hugging him, or rather, people in general.
"Nothing's going to happen," he said in a steady voice. "We are going to go upstairs and you are going to help me build this boat and then, we are going to launch it down the street."
He looked up at him incredulously, "You still haven't finished the boat?"
Max rolled his eyes and they started upstairs. "How can I when you won't bring the glue like I asked you to?"
They finished the boat and Max even let him apply the wax this time. He still snapped at him a lot and told him he was doing everything wrong, but Patty had a feeling he didn't really mean any of it. Also it made him forget about the voices downstairs and he felt strangely weightless as they both looked out the window and waited for the rain to slow down.
"Why don't you make your own boat?" Patty asked suddenly. "Don't you want to launch it?"
Max didn't look away from the window. "I make the boats Patty and you sail them. That's the way we work."
Patty sighed and then said with a smile, "I think I am going to be a sailor when I grow up."
Max smiled this time and looked at him curiously, "You do know that real boats are different, right? You have to steer them and -"
"Look!" Patty interrupted, refusing to let him destroy his fun. He pointed outside, "We can go out now!"
Max seemed to agree and they both made their way downstairs, Patty all wrapped up in Max's raincoat. They tiptoed outside and Patty tried real hard not to fall down as they made their way through the knee deep water. It was black and muddy and Patty loved it. He bent down on the ground and set his paper boat steadily on the water. It really was magnificent.
He held Max's hand and they watched it float down the street, a little reluctantly at first and then swiftly and steadily. He looked up at Max and watched the tiny drops of rain shine on his black hair. A single ray of sunlight pierced through the clouds, like a torch in a dark room. It wasn't enough to light up the sky, but it was still something.
"Hey Max?" he called, "Don't worry, I will always help you sail your boats." Max smiled, but didn't say anything.
"Even if I can't steer," he added.
This time, he laughed and held his hand just a little more tightly.