He looked up into the sunless sky and cursed the clouds for the darkness that shadowed his morning. He kicked an empty soda can down the street, hands in pockets and muttered nonsensical words under his breath.
Weeks of planning ruined by the weather. There was nothing he could do now, because the wheels were already in motion. His legs were eager to get there, but his guts danced with nervousness.
He looked into the sky again, whistling a jolly tune that he didn’t know the name of, smiled at the neighborhood kids and the clouds parted as he began to dance.
The butterflies flying out of his stomach like musical notes.
The blue sky dotted with fluffy white clouds like a painting worthy of a museum wall.
His frown nothing more than a wisp of stress long forgotten and as he arrived at the train station twenty minutes early for her arrival, he thanked Mother Nature for holding out a bit longer.
Till he mustered the courage to finally say hello to the girl that made his coffee every morning.
She smiled, dismissed his dollars and took his number.
He knew today was going to be a very good day.
In the last five years, Janice’s mother died, soon followed by her father. Her closest sister moved hundred of miles away with promises of postcards, but her mailbox stood empty. Her bills piled up as her career vanished, and she lived a frugal life from the little her parents left her.
She was lonely.
She sought comfort in the arms of her lovers, but they left her just as everyone close to her seemed to do. One by one until there was Derek. Derek liked to argue over everything, which Janice despised, but when he asked for her hand, she was too afraid to say no.
But a few months later, just like all the others, Derek left. In the middle of the night. With no note. Sorry. Or even a goodbye.
She sold the ring for $1000 and ate Oreos for every meal for at least a week.
Her loneliness grew to bitterness and her bitterness grew into a tree. She rooted slowly, her legs rotting one by one, while her hair turned to branches. Her leaves thick and lush blew gracefully in the wind.
One day, she woke up under a blue sky with birds chirping by where her ears used to be, and she cried over the human life she wasted on sadness. She smiled through the tears as the neighborhood children swung from her branches, pulling her hair for art projects and played rounds of duck-duck-goose around her broad base.
Her life as a tree was a lot less complicated. She played with squirrels, flirted with the breeze as it tousled her leaves and fell in love with a cloud.
The cloud blew her kisses on rainy days that would leave her shivering with dew. Janice forgot her name and put every single effort in forgetting the life she used to know.
She smiled at the lumberjacks, teasing them with her branches, tickling their suspenders as they passed. Suspicious and superstitious, they left her alone, knowing if they chopped her down, they’d have to deal with a force much bigger than their axes.
Janice grew taller and prouder each year. Finally, tall enough, to meet her lover in the sky for makeouts. She was never lonely again.
The clouds drop question marks on the crowd. The show stops, the guitars are set down and the drum kit explodes with anticipation. The musicians walk off the stage like it’s no big deal, but they’re as confused as everyone else. The green room is blue and there’s no more M&Ms. The van is vandalized and the tour bus nonexistent. They walk to the nearest bus stop. No one recognizes them. No one offers them an umbrella and the question marks leave stains on their favorite clothes.
The bus pulls up, but their pockets are empty. They sleep outside and bum cigarettes from pretty teenage girls.
The parking lot empties and the cars fill the air with horn honks and exhaust. It’s cold and your breath looks like a smoke stack. Four scruffy-haired guys thumb for rides. No one stops. No one bats an eye. The question marks stick to their windshields.
Everyone is dissatisfied. Cursing, no climax. Bullshit, they yell. The clouds feel bad, but the rain must go on.
Three days later, the clouds drop exclamation marks and a secret show is on. Did you get invited?
The invitations were sent by snail. Five days too late.
But the club is packed and they feel like rock stars. No questions asked.
Tina opened her mouth one last time. She was about to scream. She was about to yell. She was about to get angry. Then she stopped. It wasn’t an epiphany. It wasn’t some sudden decision to do something better. It was a force.
She tried again.
She stomped her feet. She flailed her arms. She kicked the wall. She punched the door.
No one even noticed.
She had the sudden desire to take a nap. She no longer felt angry. She looked up into the sky and saw the clouds clapping. The birds were singing cheery songs. Everything was starting to come up roses. She looked down and there they were, growing around her feet, slowly enveloping her legs.
The thorns slowly cutting into her feet, shins and thighs. Up and up and up, they spiraled.
“Oh my god,” she thought. She panicked. She couldn’t move. She couldn’t yell. She was going to die.
“Don’t be silly,” she thought. Then she immediately took it back, because she wasn’t being silly. She was being serious.
The flowers circled her arms in a giant, bloody hug. The petals looked like circular saws. This was not pretty. This was not perfection. This was a bloody horror movie and she wanted out.
She closed her eyes, wishing it all away, even though she knew it wouldn’t do any good. Why wasn’t anyone helping her?
Then she felt something new. She felt the wind in her hair. She felt the sun in her face. She opened her eyes and she was falling.
Into the sky.
She was being pushed by the roses. The clouds were closer. The birds were still singing. But it wasn’t a fairy tale. This wasn’t make believe. It was all true.
But no one believed her.
Not her parents. Not her boyfriend. Not the people at the hospital. They just nodded their heads and said, “Mm hmm” and told her to take the blue pills and it would all go away.
But she didn’t want it to go away. She wanted it.
She wanted it all back. How could she get it back?
She closed her eyes and she felt the sun.
The clouds huffed and puffed and felt ill to their stomachs. They retired to ranches in the southwest, rode horses till the sunset and returned to work two weeks later. They missed the air and caressed it with outstretched cumulus. Life was never the same after they left, expected to work long hours just because, but refusing to complain.
No one cares about the clouds.
The horses bucked, wishing for the lighter loads to return, lassoing up the dust hills like they had only a few weeks ago.
They searched the skies, but so far, no answer.
Horses doomed to long face jokes forever. Always, outstretched looking for their missing companions. No one knowing where to find them.
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of dancing daffodils;
Along the lake, beneath the trees,
Ten thousand dancing in the breeze.
The sun will never be able to compete for his affections. The moon is in love and it’s not with the obvious. A dark storm cloud passed by and the moon fell into day and couldn’t stop thinking about that cloud all night. When dusk showed its face the storm cloud had left the skies and no matter where the moon went or whoever he asked, the cloud was nowhere to be found and to this day, you’ll see the man in the moon weeping for his lost love.
Henry told Sam he could hear the doom from miles away. A loud crack followed by a thud.
That’s why Sam tied him up, so he could ask more questions.
“Tell me more about the doom?” Sam asked, poking Henry with a stick.
“Ouch! Let me go and I’ll tell you more,” he wiggled.
“I’ll let you go if you tell me more.”
“But…I don’t know anymore. I just see it. It’s in the sky written in cloud ink. The storm came and went and the doom is soon to follow. There is nothing more I know.”
“I’m not. Please let me go, Sam.”
He gave Sam the puppy dog eyes and whimpered.
“But if I let you go, I’ll have no one. No one will be with me when the doom hits. I don’t want to be alone.”
“You won’t be alone. You’ll have this room of skeletons.”
“It’s not enough.”
“You hear it?”
“Where is it?”
“It’s in the room with us.”
“Where? Where?” Sam said, looking around.
Henry looked Sam straight in eye and said, “It’s you.”
The sun came up that day and never went back down.
It shone on through the night, forever and always, blazing its rays.
The warmth on your back, sweat rolling down, sticking shirts to your skin. The make-up melting off the faces of beautiful models, everyone miserable and wailing and still the sun smiled down on the town.
Always and forever yellow and orange and never making a pretty sunrise or sunset again. Always and forever shining bright in the empty sky.
Dried and wrinkled, the sun melted everything in sight, slowly closing in on its victim. The man with the hat. The man who couldn’t stop making invention after invention trying to avoid the damned heat.
A cloud hat. An ever expanding storm maker. Something to rid this town of the visible rays of body odor that drifted like a thick fog in the air.
But the sun wouldn’t let it work.
He would win.
And in the end, the man shriveled up like a raisin and the sun shone on beaming brighter than ever before, but what the sun didn’t know was that it was coming. The next one. Bigger, smarter and grayer than anything before him.
The clouds weren’t going to let him have all the glory.
Desmond always felt alone. In elementary school he never had friends. He always found that whenever he confided in anyone that he was being set to the principal’s office. His real friends were in the sky. His big fluffy pals never let him down. He spent his afternoons whispering his thoughts to them. It didn’t matter that he spent his recess alone anymore. He never really felt alone, because one look in the sky and there they were by his side.
But on a bright, sunny day, Desmond looked up into the sky and realized his friends had abandoned him. The clouds had left him too. It was just like everyone else. He felt betrayed. Alone. Frightened.
On the walk home from school, he was confronted by some of the other kids and as they circled around him and started calling him names, Desmond knew exactly what to do. He wasn’t scared.
He found his inner cloud.
And left those bullies to fend for themselves.