An exploration of the inner life of a cloud.



Eeeeeng…. Keeeeeee….

He… mmmmoooovveee…

Insiiiiiiiiiide…… IIIIIII juuuuuuuusttttt….. keeeeeppppp……

Moooooooovviiiiiiiinnnnnngg aaaaannnnnndddd ssssshhhhiiiiiffftttiiiiiiinnggg aarroooooooounnnndddddddd…..

Aaaaannnnndddd heeeerrrreee IIIIIII coooooommmmmeeee……

HERE! Here I am!

Floating, so much time spent floating, suspended, scattered, far, wide, everywhere but not really anywhere. But here I am!

Up until several years ago I was merely a mass of condensed watery vapour floating in the atmosphere, but here I am! A cloud with consciousness!!

Oh it started slowly, small sparks of life – or chi, as I like to think, THINK!, of it – gradually bumping into each other, clumping, randomly meeting over hundreds of thousands of years. I gather that’s how the warm, squishy mush balls started life below, with their blood pumping and their lungs breathing.

They’re really making a go of it down there, first ordinary slime, then slowly growing, swimming, crawling, walking. They even went as far as opposable thumbs and speech, which let me tell you are very overrated. It’s the chi that matters: the life, the mind!

The mind of a cloud is a funny thing, and it took so very, very long for mine to get itself together. But here I am! Thinking! Rationalising! Judging! Pontificating! All these wonderful connections and processes just zapping through my vapoury little form. I started off so very small, but the more time that passes the more me that joins me. I’m like a 3D water vapour puzzle reassembling at random, growing and stretching as the millennia pass by. I wonder how big I’ll get? I’d love to be a cumulonimbus, all towering and fluffy, solid-looking, immense, imposing, impressive, mobile, magnificent, massive!

Where on earth do all these words come from? Can I read? Am I telepathic? What is telepathic? What can I really do with myself? What am I really? Where did I come from? Was I made? If so, who made me?

Oh no, it’s the philosophy. The philosophy is bad, very bad indeed.

So much time has passed so quickly and I am growing in thought but not in understanding. I used to be small, light, fluffy, arrogant. Now I’m lonely, grey and adrift. I’ve tried to connect with other clouds but they don’t think, don’t speak, don’t connect. I am alone in the world.

The only thing that makes me feel less lonely is watching the small, strange trajectory of those mushy, blood-filled creatures below. They’ve done very well recently, thinking harder, challenging themselves, inventing things, innovating and growing. I watch them, all of them, all of the ones underneath me in rain or low cover. Sometimes, when it’s cold and I can go right to the ground, I wrap myself around a mush-creature (it’s not hard now they’re on two legs) and will them to communicate. But they can’t. They think I am a wraith, a fairy, a witch’s curse, a myth. So I watch from afar.

I grow lonelier as the world turns onward, the only one of my kind, nothing between me and oblivion, but no way of reaching oblivion. I’ve thrown storms, hurricanes, lightning, hail and snow, but it drives the mush-creatures away from me, indoors, out of my wrath. So now I leave the weather to the normal clouds; they seem to enjoy it, the boring day-to-day business of mist, dew, condensation, rain, snow, hail, ocean, wind and spray. I sit up high, watching everything below me, hoping for something.

Hope is new, something to keep me going. Maybe it is part of my expanding intelligence? Maybe one day I will know for sure. Hope has started to lead me back to the mush-creatures; now they cover themselves with fascinating garments, communicate over vast distances, travel wherever they want, whenever they want, and express an incredible amount of imagination. The one with the best imagination lives in a little house by the ocean, and I visit it often. I appear in sea spray, mist, fog, dew, evening breezes, all of my forms within the cloud family. It seems to enjoy my presence, putting its face into the wind, tasting particles of me with relish, singing, dancing, moving, laughing into me through night and day.

I have a new feeling, I know not what to make of it. It is not a new intelligence; it is something entirely different. It connects the pieces of me, makes me stronger, pulls me into a shape, a shape like a mush-creature, but insubstantial. I cannot yet touch my favourite mush-creature, but it can see me, it speaks to me. The electricity and vibrations of its words make me stronger, call me to it night and day. I follow it into its dwelling, wrap myself around as it lies still at night, circle its head during the day. Does it know I am always there? I do not know. But this is the one, this is what will cure my loneliness, my greyness, my emptiness.

It has died. It has gone beyond my reach, into a state I can never go, and now its fellow mush-creatures have put it into the earth where I can never reach it. I detest this situation; I threw a storm as I haven’t thrown in years while they were lowering my one into the earth, far into the soil, the element I cannot enter. As the days passed I rained and rained and rained into the ground, trying to soak myself into the earth to reach my one. But I cannot seem to permeate so deep; the earth is off-limits. Yet I continue to throw myself into the earth, trying again and again to reach my one, because what else will I do? I cannot die, I cannot grow any more, and I cannot dissipate. I am doomed to float aimlessly above and around this ball of dirt and water for eternity…

And yet, and yet. The earth is melting. Years of throwing myself at it is wearing away the earth, pushing it further down the hill. I grow weak with weary, another new feeling. Am I getting old? Can I get old? Of course not, but some chi is leaving me, something is burning low. But I continue to throw myself at the earth, and one day, many years after my one has gone, I reach the point where it was buried: six feet under. It is not there, merely bones becoming dust. Where is it? It was here only several years ago? Or was it a hundred? I cannot measure time accurately; I’m a cloud for God’s sake!

But the more I permeate the earth and the dust that was once my one the closer I feel to it. This is all that is left of my mush-creature and I am drawing it into myself. The bones turned to dust, and the dust dissolves with the rain, and the rain returns to me, eventually. One day, so many years after my beginning, I am whole again. And not just whole, twofold! My one is here with me now, inside me where it should be, a cloud wrapped inside my cloud. It is taking it a long time to learn to speak to me again, but as more of it returns to me it remembers itself, remembers its intelligence, its imagination, its genius. Time passes, and every mote of dust that was once my one returns to me, becomes me, remembers itself.

And I need never be alone again.