‘Cloud Watching’ a short story by Sean Martin

‘I feel like saying something pretentious,’ I exclaimed, flinging my arms into the air. The afternoon grass felt good to lie on, and I didn’t even mind the mud stains making home on the hem of my dress.

‘Huh?’ he swivelled to face me. I didn’t let my gaze slip away from the sky.

‘It just feels appropriate; I mean we are art students after all.’ I glanced at his plastic framed eyes playing with the grass beneath him. ‘Something like… “I wish I was a cloud”.’ I was nervous for some reason now.

He began laughing and my lips stretched and my body jumped to mimic him. It was friction in my throat.

‘I kind of mean it you know.’ I was facing him now.

‘Well, clouds are pretty cool,’

‘Yeah, I guess,’ I sighed. ‘But like, there was this philosopher – oh gosh I really do sound like an art student!’ The air was quiet and I could hear him chuckle. ‘But he did say this really cool thing, about clouds I mean, he said clouds cannot make mistakes.’ I forced myself to keep my eyes fixed on the white and blue above me.

‘What do you mean? That does sound pretty pretentious,’ he scoffed.

‘Have you ever seen a misshapen cloud? A cloud that was wrong?’ I insisted. ‘Clouds can’t be wrong, no matter what shape they come in; they’re all doing their job pretty well. He tries to apply this to people too, saying if we viewed ourselves as clouds, then nothing we ever do could be wrong, we could make no mistakes, just side effects of being human.’ I was afraid in that moment the distance between our hands would grow and grow until I was left in the infinite abyss of space with nothing but the sound of my worried stomach churning, spinning with the endless blackness.

‘You know I forgive you,’ he whispered. Suddenly I was back lying on the hill, the grass caressing my hair. ‘Besides,’ he said with enthusiasm that made me turn to face him, ‘clouds are boring, I’d much rather look at you all day.’  I rolled onto my front laughing, really laughing this time. Alternating my gaze between his eyes and the grass I was twirling around my finger, I tried to forget everything I knew about clouds.

– Sean Martin

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