The clouds don’t have shapes anymore.
Ever since I was little, the clouds have had shapes, even if sometimes, they just look like huge, woolly sheep. Still, they were always more than just clouds. They were strange objects floating around, huge imprints in the sky. I remember that in the summertime, I used to lie in the grass in the front garden and build daisy-chains, all whilst keeping a vigilant eye on the sky, as the wind gently tugged at the clouds.
According to my not-so-very-sound logic, the clouds are the same shape in every country, all over the world. Not special clouds, just your average, fluffy white cumulus-nimbus. They’re all the same. They all should be. Surely I’m not the only person who can’t see the shapes anymore?
How can moving to a different country change the shapes of the clouds? Because while the sun shines brighter in some places, and the skies are bluer, the clouds are the same everywhere. Sure, there are a few more rain clouds in England. And yes, I’m certain a fluffy-cloud-expert would disagree with me on this, but to me, they look just the same in France as they do in Turkey.
And while I still look at the clouds, in the hopes of catching them in the act of being something other than a cloud, everyday I see it less and less. I did in fact mention this to a friend one day and she just looked at me as though I was nuts, as did my boyfriend. I end up feeling quite embarrassed about the whole affair and resolve not to mention it again.
Then, a few months later, on holiday in Ireland with a ‘Male Companion’ at the beach, I suddenly notice an Australia-shaped cloud.
‘Eeeeeeeek!’ I squeak shrilly, causing Male Companion, who was lying next to me, reading a magazine, to give me a questioning look, followed by a very complacent:
‘The clouds… THEY HAVE SHAPES!!’ I turn and grin at him triumphantly.
He stares at me, slightly baffled by my latest bizarre statement, but nonetheless intrigued. (He’s good that way. He hears out my madness and tries to make sense of me.)
‘See? I’m not insane, don’t worry, there really is a shape. Look, that one…just…there!’ (I pointed at it) ‘See? See?? SEE?! It’s Australia!’
Male Companion puts down his book, takes out his earphones, leans over and kisses me lightly. Then, after considering the cloud in question, he nods his head thoughtfully and flops over on his side, so that he can take off his sunglasses. I see his pretty blue eyes and stare adoringly into them, the clouds suddenly the last thing on my mind. He then says:
‘It is Australia, isn’t it?’
He can see it!!!
I stare at him in disbelief, pretty blue eyes partially forgotten. (I’m only human. And he does have very nice blue eyes.) Until he goes a step further than me:
‘And, look, that one over there, it’s like a phoenix.’ He points at a big twirly cloud, that bears no resemblance whatsoever to a phoenix.
This time, it’s me who looks at him as though he’s nuts. Here was a guy, a nice guy, who thought that the clouds had shapes too. And he wasn’t a five year old.
‘Seriously, see the clouds at the bottom? How they swirl, like the flames when a phoenix is being reborn, and…’
And I saw it. There, in front of me, was a great big white phoenix, tinted orange by the golden sunset. I can actually feel my heart swell with happiness, my smile obviously betraying this feeling, because Male Companion squeezes my hand, his eyes twinkling. I realise that it wasn’t where I am that changed the clouds. It doesn’t even really depend on the weather.
It was the person I was with.
My grin becomes a small, secret, smile that he knew as the smile I kept just for him. I kissed his shoulder before telling him he’d ‘brought the shapes back’. He smiled gently back at me, put in his earphones, picked up his book and carried on reading.
For my part, I spent the rest of the evening watching for boats, countries, flowers, and a phoenix, being reborn from the ashes.