Tag: clouds

Charlie’s Room: Upside-Down

“Dad?” Charlie propped himself up on an elbow.

Isaac pulled back his hand that was reaching for the light switch and turned around. “Yes?”

“How do people on the other side of the world walk around upside-down?”

“They don’t.” Isaac smiled. “They walk around right side up, just like us.”

Charlie looked confused. “But they’re on the other side of the earth. They have to be upside-down.” Charlie picked up his pillow and used his fingers to walk across the top of the pillow. “See? We’re right side up like this.” His fingers walked upside-down on the bottom of the pillow. “And the other side is upside-down.”

“The earth is a lot bigger than your pillow.” Isaac crossed the room and held out his hand. Charlie handed over the pillow. Isaac held it up. “Imagine that your pillow is floating in the middle of space. In space, there’s no up or down. For up and down you need context and gravity. If your pillow had gravity, then down would be the pillow and up would be away from the pillow.”

“Huh.” Charlie thought for a moment. “So the ground is always down and the sky is always up?”

“For us. If there are beings that live on the bottoms of the clouds somehow, it’s probably the opposite for them. The ground would be their sky, and rainbows would look like smiles instead of frowns.”

Charlie laughed. “I hadn’t thought about it, but It’s true. Rainbows are frowns, aren’t they?”

“That’s right.” Isaac handed back the pillow. “No wonder so many people are grumpy when it rains.”

Charlie fluffed up his pillow and put it in place. “I like the rain. If there were cloud people, I guess they love it too. For them the rain would rain up, right? And their umbrellas would all catch the rain. I wonder what they’d do with it.” Charlie flopped back on his pillow.

“Maybe they use it to grow lightning. Or flowers that bloom into snowflakes.” Isaac patted Charlie’s arm and crossed the room again.

“It would be interesting to be a cloud person and live upside-down.” Charlie sounded sleepy. “Maybe they exist on another world far, far away.”

“Maybe they do.” Isaac turned off the light. The nightlight blinked back on.

“Goodnight, Charlie. I love you.”

“Goodnight, Dad.”

Isaac closed the door partway and walked down the hallway by the glow of the nightlight. The lights in the living room were on, and Marianne was sitting on the couch working on a sudoku puzzle. The living room window was like a mirror, reflecting the room within.

Isaac turned at the last moment and entered the kitchen. The lights were off, but outside, the streetlights and moonlight left everything well-lit but somehow bleached away all the colors. There were clouds in the sky, and the weather reports predicted it would rain at some point in the night.

Once, Isaac had been on an airplane and had managed to claim a seat by the window. As the airplane had climbed up through the clouds, he’d seen the wisps of white mist swirl around shapes of things that were almost there. Were there really cloud people? Maybe they did exist here instead of just far away.

It would be silly to believe that there weren’t things unknown and undiscovered in the world. Isaac knew better. Cloud people? Isaac thought back to that airplane flight. Yes, it was certainly a possibility.

If there were cloud people, how much control did they have over the weather? Or was it like living on a fault line or near an active volcano, preparing for the inevitable and learning to recognize the signs of impending disaster? Which would be worse, erupting lava or erupting lightning? Could they travel between clouds?

Isaac watched the clouds gather, dimming the moonlight and then hiding it all together. It might be a cloud people gathering. Perhaps the rain and lightning weren’t disasters after all. Maybe they were signs of celebration, mirroring our fireworks and confetti.

“Are you in the kitchen?” Marianne called from the living room.

“Yes. I’ll be right in.” Isaac turned away from the window.

“Could you bring me a glass of water?”

Isaac brought Marianne the glass. Just then, lightning flashed, briefly disrupting the front window’s mirror. The lights flickered as thunder rumbled moments later. “Can we turn out the lights and watch the lightning?” Isaac asked.

Marianne smiled. “That sounds nice. Sure.”

And they sat in the dark and watched the lightning and listened the rain hit the window as they sat inside cozy and warm. It was nice. Isaac hoped that if there really were cloud people, they were happy too.

Charlie’s Room: The Open Window

It was a sunny day after several days of gray skies and rain. Marianne and Charlie woke up early and checked their list twice. They left for the garden center, the nice one two towns over, before Isaac had finished eating his cereal. They wouldn’t be home until after lunch.

Isaac whistled as he did the breakfast dishes. Sunlight streamed in through the window above the sink. It was the weekend, and it was a beautiful day. It was wonderful.

He went on a walk. There was a little breeze that made the leaves rustle together, keeping the temperatures from being uncomfortably warm. The sound reminded him of the ocean. If he closed his eyes, he could imagine the waves crashing on the shore and then drawing back again.

Once he returned home, he opened the window so that he could still hear the breeze blowing through the trees as he sorted through the paperwork at the kitchen table. He wanted to work where it was sunniest. It wasn’t fun to be paying bills on a day like this, but he told himself that if he could get everything done by lunchtime, he could eat out on the lawn. It was the perfect day for a picnic.

As he worked, Isaac realized he was leaning rather close to the papers in front of him. The room was darker than before. He looked out the window. Where had all the clouds come from? It was supposed to be sunny all day.

Just as he stood up to look out, a little rain cloud flew in through the open window. It sailed around the kitchen, pausing at the vase of flowers on the counter, and then swooped towards the window. It started to move through the window, but when the edges of the cloud touched the wall outside the window frame, it backed up.

Again it moved forward, trying to squeeze through the window. Again it paused and backed up when it didn’t all squeeze through at once. It seemed to be stuck. Isaac wasn’t sure what to do.

Maybe he could help somehow. He tried to help it gather itself at the edges, but his hands went right through. He picked up one of his file folders and tried to fan the cloud, hoping the breeze would push it through.

The cloud darted to the other side of the kitchen. Then it started to cry. Well, it started to rain, anyway. Isaac felt terrible. “I am so sorry,” he said. “I was trying to help. I didn’t mean to scare you. I’m sure there’s some way for you to get out. Do you think you could go through the front door?”

The cloud kept crying. The floor was quite wet at this point. Perhaps the little rain cloud was becoming dehydrated?

Isaac tried offering it a bowl of ice water. The cloud stopped raining and hovered over it for a moment, before moving away. It started to rain again.

“Oh, right. You can’t eat it like this. Hang on a moment, and I’ll boil you some water so you can eat the steam.” Isaac put the kettle on.

While he waited for the water to boil, he turned on the lights. It was really dark out. The breeze blowing in the window was chilly, and he considered going to get his coat. He didn’t want to close the window and trap the rain cloud inside.

The rain cloud wandered over to the flowers and hovered above them, overflowing the vase. Water ran over the edge of the counter, down the front of the cupboards, and onto the floor. The floor was really a large puddle at this point. Isaac wondered if it would be rude to lay out some towels to sop up the mess.

Outside, there was a sudden, loud rumble of thunder. The little rain cloud darted to the window. It was smaller now, probably because of all of the crying. It squeezed through the window.

Isaac hurried over to the window and closed it. He watched the little rain cloud sail higher and higher until it joined the other clouds floating far above the treetops.

There was another rumble of thunder and a few scattered raindrops. The rain didn’t start. The kettle whistled. Isaac turned away from the window and made himself a cup of peppermint tea.

While it cooled, he mopped the floor and wiped the counter and cupboards. He poured the extra water out of the vase. By the time everything was cleaned up, his peppermint tea was cold. Luckily, peppermint tea still tastes nice cold.

The bills were only slightly damp. They were dry by the time the paperwork was done. The sky was bright and blue again. Isaac turned the light off.

He made himself a sandwich and grabbed an apple. He ate them outside, in the sunshine. The grass was still a little wet, so he ate as he wandered around the yard, imagining the changes Marianne and Charlie would make when they got home.

They returned an hour later, and he helped them bring the potted plants and bags of fertilizer from the car to the back yard. When it was all unloaded, they went to the kitchen for glasses of ice water.

“You cleaned the kitchen,” Marianne said happily. “I thought you were going to do paperwork today. I’m not complaining, of course. It looks great!”

“I did the paperwork, too,” Isaac said. “It was just one of those days, I guess.”

“You should open the window,” Charlie said. “It’s really nice outside.”

“But what if something comes in through the window?” Isaac pointed out.

“If it’s small enough to get through the window screen, I’m sure you’ll be fine,” Marianne said. She opened the window. Luckily, this time, nothing came through. Not even a cloud.