Flash fiction. Weather Proverbs Explained, by Ingrid Jendrzejewski. Image: on the left half of the picture is the silhouette profile of a man shouting; on the right is the white silhouette profile of a young woman. In the background, the sun, clouds and the moon, cut into stripes.

Weather Proverbs, Explained

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“Mare’s tails and mackerel scales 

Make tall ships take in their sails.” 

She’s studied the weather and knows about clouds which is why her lips are thin and tight. She does not want to tell him about the promotion. Tonight, she will prepare a nice dinner, but chop the onions too quicklyBlood from her little finger will mingle with bolognese. 

When the sky fills with altocumulus and cirrus clouds, a warm front is approaching. Although the day might be pleasant, it’s time to batten down the hatches: soon, conditions will be favourable for storms. 

“When the ass begins to bray, 
Surely rain will come that day.” 

He is happy for her but he is also not happy for her. He will not say that he is not happy for her but instead will complain about these things in this order: the weather, the season, the neighbour’s barking dog, the tightness of his interview suit around his waist, the quantity of onions in her pasta sauce. She will try to make a joke, but it will backfire. 

When a storm is approaching, air pressure plummets. Some organisms are sensitive to minute changes in the environment, changes that humans can’t detect. Beware the daisy who closes her eye. Beware the swallow who flies low. Beware a ring around the moon. 

“The sharper the blast 
The sooner ‘tis past.” 

Neither of them expect him to hit her but he does. She will emit a sharp, startled cry and he will look at his hand as if it belongs to something else. ‘I didn’t mean,’ he will say.  ‘I don’t know what,’ he will continue. When they go to bed, she will feel him look at her back with weak, wet eyes. He will pull her so close she cannot escape the smells of dinner and toothpaste on his breath. 

Strong winds build fast, rage hard, then pass. Storms that catch one by surprise are likely to blow over before there is time to find an umbrella. 

“Clear moon, frost soon.” 

She is still awake when the pale sunlight creeps into the bedroom through the sides of the curtains. She is stiff from lying still through the night. Soon, it will be time for her to get out of bed, to ready herself for work. She will not wake him when she slips out of his arms, out of their bed. She will not turn on the lights when she gets dressedShe will not kiss his forehead before she leaves the house. 

On clear nights, the Earth’s surface cools rapidly. With no clouds to get in the way, heat from the ground radiates up and disappears into space. If the temperature is cold enough, the ground will freeze. It is important to know the sky: some things, no matter how many storms they weather, are undone by a single frost. 

Ingrid Jendrzejewski

Ingrid Jendrzejewski received a BFA in Creative Writing and BA in English Literature at the University of Evansville before going on to earn a BA and MSci in Natural Sciences (Physics) at the University of Cambridge.


She has published around 200 shortform pieces in places like Best Small Fictions, the Los Angeles Review and various Bath Flash Fiction anthologies. Her short collection Things I Dream About When I’m Not Sleeping was a runner-up for Bath Flash Fiction’s first Novella-in-Flash competition.


She currently serves as Co-Director of National Flash Fiction Day.

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