I stared out of my bedroom window, still sitting on my bed in the clothes from the previous day that I had fallen asleep in. It was supposed to rain today as it had for most of April but instead, as I gazed through the glass with my chin resting in my palm, I saw the sun peaking through fluffy white clouds pressed up against a blue sky. Despite the unusually pleasant day outside my body felt heavy and unable to move. My throat started to burn and I found myself wishing it was raining like the forecast had said it would so that I could blame the tears rising in my eyes on seasonal depression. I fell into the lull of watching the clouds make their way ever so slowly in and out of my vision. I felt the hand holding up my head begin to tremble and I quickly tore my eyes away from the clouds and stumbled out of my bed towards the bathroom. I felt like I was going to throw up with each step but I managed to make it into the shower though I nearly forgot to take off the now wrinkled black dress I was wearing.
Nothing felt real, not the baby blue Converse that weren’t in the entryway like they were supposed to be, not the piece of toast I ate for breakfast only to throw back up two minutes later. The only things that didn’t feel like a dream was the sunlight streaming through the curtains and the clouds that I wished would just go away. I wanted to hate them, the clouds I mean. I wanted them to just turn gray, I wanted them to flood the streets with rain, I wanted them to do anything but remain comfortingly beautiful because every time I saw their white wisps float across the sky I heard her voice.
“Look, Safi! That one looks like a bird!”
I could practically feel her hand in mine as she leaned her head against my shoulder, closing her eyes while I continued to gaze contently at the passing clouds. I clenched my fist together, reminding myself that I was alone in my apartment.
Cool spring air washed gently over my skin as I stepped through the door, fluttering my skirt and pushing back the hair that fell over my face. My feet seemed to move on their own. I never told them to turn left on Sunspot Court or walk up Mirror hill towards Barberry park but they did anyway. They kept going: walking past the children playing by the lake and hanging precariously from tree branches to a clearing in the far reaches of the expansive park that was overgrown with balsamroot. I laid down in a small patch of grass that was still damp from yesterday’s rain and stared up at the sky.
“You know, Safi, I really like the way you smile as you watch the clouds. You always look so content. I wish we could lay here forever.” She rolled onto her side to look at me. “We’re going to come back tomorrow, right? I know, I’ll make a pie and we can watch the clouds until the sun sets.” I turned my head and smiled at her. She was beaming at the idea. It was almost like she was sparkling. I laughed.
“Sounds amazing, but what about school?” I asked. “We have classes tomorrow.” She jumped on top of me, giggling. She shrugged.
“We can skip. We do it all the time anyways,” she said. I raised my eyebrows but didn’t say anything. “Oh, come on,” she persisted. “It’ll be fun, we just finished up finals anyway.” I sighed but finally gave in to her expectant eyes.
“Fine, fine, but you have to make apple pie,” I said. She grinned at me and gave me a hug.
“If I didn’t know apple pie was your favorite, what kind of girlfriend would I be?” she asked as she laid her head on my chest. I placed my arms gently around her and returned to cloud gazing.
“Don’t worry, you would still be more than I could ever want,” I murmured quietly. “You’re too good for me, you know? I’ve never done anything to deserve you.” I knew she was awake but she didn’t respond. That was fine. I didn’t need her to. I knew she’d just call me a dumbass for saying such a thing. Maybe I was, maybe I deserved her after all. Maybe I deserved the happiness that was welling up in my chest. Maybe we could stay like this forever.
It took me a few moments to realize tears were running down my cheeks. I hated crying but at that moment it felt better than not crying. It felt better than the numbness that had been turning my heart to stone. The tears blurred my vision as I tried to focus on the sky. I furiously tried to wipe them away but they just kept coming. It was as if they were tired of sitting trapped in my eyes like a locked up secret. Slowly the dream-like feeling that had been holding me captive fell apart. It wasn’t a dream, it was all real. The bruise on my head, my broken wrist, the stitches in my side: it was all real. The only thing that wasn’t real was the warm feeling of her head in my lap. The tears finally stopped, leaving my eyes red and puffy, but I could finally see the clouds clearly again. I searched for shapes, for bunnies and cats, for anything, but I couldn’t concentrate. Why was I here? Why was I laying in our spot even though I knew it would only bring pain? Why couldn’t I think of anything other than the apple pie she had promised me? Why did the spot next to me feel so empty, so cold despite the sun that basked it. And why? Why did all of the clouds have to be shaped like her?