Life After Cloud

As I ignore the world around me, a silver Camry slows to an early evening crawl.  Seven years old, she welcomes the easing of my foot from the gas. And relieved of the concentration required to manage an angry engine she lets slip a silent sigh. Sensing an overall easing of stress, my left blinker winks ever so coyly, signaling a desire to turn away, towards the town’s ice rink parking lot.

And ignoring her winking duty for a moment, my blinker peeks into the lot and, after no more than the quickest of peeks, judges it more a final resting place for side-view mirrors than anything else. It’s not so much a parking lot as it is a two-ended semicircle to nowhere, packed tight with cars on both sides of a slender drive.

Spying herself in a spider web of broken glass my blinker reflects, concerned for friends on either side of the Camry. Always looking to the past and oblivious to what the future holds her friends, the side-view mirrors, witness a world behind. They watch as, two by two, headlights meander into the bicycle lane in order to pass me on the right.

“The bicycle lane is not for cars,” tut-tuts the right side mirror.

“The bicycle lane is most certainly not for cars,” agrees the left side mirror.

The pairs of headlights ignore the holier-than-thou admonishments as I scan the lot for an available spot. Undaunted, my blinker focuses attention on her task and as she does, she makes a game of flirting with oncoming traffic.

Just beyond my blinker’s gaze sunset prepares for evening’s slumber. Stretching arms wide she opens evening’s drapes. Truth be told, those drapes are as old as the sky. Pin pricks of light poke through the tiniest of holes to litter the horizon with dots of white. And with the drapes and dots set to her liking sunset closes eyes tight before pulling a blanket of clouds snug under a golden chin.

Another day comes to pass.

She stares, delighted with her view of the heavens.

And as sunset enters a world of dreams, my patient blinker pleads for attention.

“Am I not beautiful?” she wonders.

One by one oncoming vehicles ignore her plea.

“90,000 miles,” shrugs odometer.

She sighs a sigh of recognition, “I’m old.”

Headlights and drivers alike ignore her, staring through smooth glass. Motionless.

Stoically, some consider the loss of day.

Stoically, some consider the arrival of night.

Outside, the air is crisp. It crackles a warning of looming change. The air knows of change. She feels it, coursing through her being like the lolling wake of a mighty tide. And she senses November’s pointed bristles, eager to sweep away autumn’s remaining warmth.

In the distance coldness licks her lips, poised for ascent to glory.

As air crackles and shines, my car inches forward. Below, tiny pieces of gravel refuse to yield, making a blustery show of strength as they take turns trying to keep the car wheel off the pavement.

“I am the strongest,” bellows one in his oh-so-graveling voice.

“As am I!” beams his brother.

Together they shoulder the weight of my car.

It’s their game.

It’s who they are.

Mighty in their determination they puff chests wide as they buckle and chip, some splitting but none fleeing the burden of the grinding wheel. Crunching yelps fill my ears as the wheel turns and grinds. And, as gravel turns to dust, the world around me teeters between day and night.

Transforming.

Of course, I don’t see this world around me as I am so intently focused on the task at hand.

I want to enter a parking lot.

Be that as it may, I do indeed realize it’s chilly out. Not so chilly as to be uncomfortable but enough to give rise to playful vapor trails lingering and spinning behind rolling cars. Liberated from belching tail pipes, those grey vapors rush through crisp evening air and, sensing a future without boundaries, they leap and twirl, drifting upwards towards a blanket of clouds.

A Milky Way of vapors twists before me.

Helped by the cajoling hands of cold air those vapors split and separate, components scattering in a buckshot rush for dots of light.

Pregnant with anticipation, clouds loiter, hungry for harvest.

And along the edge of one of those clouds, far from my sight or care, the bravest of snowflakes wakes. Birthed only moments ago she stretches and flexes crystalized muscles before poking a finger into the dotted night sky. And sensing a change in the air she wonders what all the fuss is about. Curiosity wins as she takes a peek over the side of her lifelong home.

She gasps.

Below, uncountable vapors spin in ever expanding rotations, reversed whirlpools, colliding, merging and separating and scattering like children chasing butterflies across a playground of innocence.

With fingertips extended, reaching strands of sunlight join cool air to hush those vapors upwards. And nudged along, those vapors separate into the tiniest of parts as they drift, side by side, to life after vapor.

Captivated by the liberated vapors, the snowflake turns to her nearest neighbor.

“From another world,” she whispers. “They’re coming. And look! They’re, they’re changing!”

Nervous, she quivers.

Then, more fearful of spending her life perched upon the edge of a cloud than she is of risking change, she looks at her neighbor with an ‘I’m gonna do this!’ look.

Confused, her neighbor shakes her head, “What are you saying?”

“Leaping. And flying! To the place where vapors grow. To earth below,” answers the brave little snowflake.

And drawing a breath, the bravest of snowflakes jumps from her billowy blanket.

Eyes closed and prayers said she tumbles through rising vapors towards me and my winking blinker so far below.

Vapors squeal with delight as the brave snowflake slices a freezing path through drifting parts. And passing through vapors she feels for the first time something other than cold.

She feels warm.

A tumbling reflection of light, she glows.

In what can only be described as rapture she beams at the world around.

And, infected with bravery, her friends follow.

Launching themselves from all they have known towards earth below.

Reaching with crystallized hands towards a falling neighbor they huddle in groups, floating towards earth.

And at that moment an incoming salvo of the bravest of snowflakes surprises me and my flirtatious blinker.

Here and there snowflakes dab my windshield.

Just a scattering mind you, as all snowflakes are not so brave.

Squinting, I look up.

It’s pretty.

“Beautiful,” I tell no one.

No one nods an understanding nod as my blinker rolls a contemptuous eye at the thought of throwing oneself at a stranger.

And as snowflakes seek a world of wonder oncoming drivers work diligently to ignore my little blinker. Joining tail to nose stoic cars form a sliding snake, causing snowflakes to toss and turn. Many of the little flakes land upon warm front hoods, melting above the heat of an angry engine moments before reaching earth.

Transformed, they gasp and hiss.

And as a flotilla of snowflakes discovers a new world I sit, oblivious.

In a world crackling with transformation I wait to enter a parking lot.

Frustrated by the snaking cars, I open my driver’s side window to prop an elbow on the door.

From the world of rising vapors, angry engines, flirting blinkers, myopic and broken mirrors, strongman gravel bits, cool air, slumbering sunlight and leaping snowflakes a crow caws, announcing her pending arrival.

Leaning my face towards the open window I look for the crow without success. And though I miss my chance to witness the crow form herself upon a wire high above I am greeted by the placement of a cold kiss upon my cheek.

Mind you, cold and I are former enemies. But now, after a difficult first decade of adulthood, a decade featuring an uninterrupted string of cold’s crushing victories over me, I welcome cold upon my skin.

No longer the hegemonic demon I battled in the past, cold is now an option. I temper her moods; dampen her with an inner warmth unavailable during those early years of adulthood.

And presently I blush at the unanticipated greeting of air’s cool touch. Old advisories, cold and I share a mutual respect. Delivering a smile to my former rival I look away and, as I do, I spy a snowflake, the bravest of snowflakes in fact, as she comes to land on the back of my hand.

Over the caw of the crow and through a swishing, if not soothing, drone of snaking cars on now moist pavement my ears perk. For a moment – ‘no, that’s not possible,’ I whisper – I think I hear that snowflake scream.

And though I don’t know it, I am not mistaken.

Just out of earshot, though loud enough for other flakes to hear, she screams in terror as she lands upon my hand, mangled and deformed.

“Oh Lord! What have I done?  What will become of me?” she bellows.

Deep within she senses it; a looming transformation.

Her body gurgles, heated by the back of my hand.

Again she screams, “What’s happening to me?”

Feeling her edges – her being – soften and vibrate she casts for a life line. Panicked eyes dart to and fro and as they do, she finds my smile.

Her face frozen, she stares.

For her, time stops as the door to eternity gently swings wide.

And for me?

Time rolls forward as I remain smiling, not so much at the brave snowflake, but at a sense of coolness on my skin.

The snowflake, though, does not know that. She simply sees a smile; her first ever. Slowly at first she begins to transform.

She blossoms anew as the warmth of a new world stakes its claim.

She shivers and quivers.

First, with fear.

Then, with anticipation.

Finally, with resolution.

Leaning forward I blow a warm breeze across her changing form.

And as warmth envelops her top to bottom she let’s go.

And slips to liquid.

Turning my hand over I drum the side of the Camry and, as I do, I do not notice a drop of water sliding from the back of my hand.

Transformed, she steps through a door wide open.

“Earth,” she whispers.

Life after cloud.

 

As I ignore the world around me, a silver Camry slows to an early evening crawl.

My left blinker signaling a desire to turn into the ice rink parking lot.

I scan for an available spot.

Outside, the air is crisp. It crackles a warning of change.

My car inches forward. As gravel turns to dust, the world around me teeters between day and night.

It’s chilly out. Not so chilly as to be uncomfortable but enough to give rise to vapor trails behind cars.

Here and there snowflakes dab my windshield.

Squinting, I look up.

It’s pretty.

“Beautiful”.

Frustrated, I open my driver’s side window to prop an elbow on the door.

A crow caws.

Leaning my face towards the open window I look for the crow without success.

I blush.  I look away and, as I do, I spy a snowflake on the back of my hand.

Time rolls forward as I remain smiling at the sense of coolness on my skin.

I blow a warm breeze across my hand.

I drum the side of the Camry and, as I do, I do not notice a drop of water sliding from the back of my hand.

Life after cloud.

 

As I ignore the world around me, a silver Camry slows to an early evening crawl.

I wait to enter a parking lot.

I drum the side of the Camry and, as I do, I do not notice a drop of water sliding from the back of my hand.

Life after cloud.

 

I ignore the world around me.

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