TITLE: CLOUDLAND, AND OTHER STORIES
GENRE: Literary Fiction
Sara, a school social worker, has a six-year-old patient she doesn’t know how to help. The problem isn’t that he’s stopped speaking; it’s that he thinks they can go find his dead mother and her dead father in a magical land in the sky. And even worse, he’s right.
Jake settled himself deeper into the cloud-nest of his bed, top-bunk, high and lofted, closer to the sky and the Stories. When mom came in, she would have to climb up the ladder to reach him, and he would have time to watch the darkness under her eyes crinkle up and break apart, and there would be humor and soft pillows to lean on instead of the edged cliffs her face had earthquaked into, ever since she started school. School and work and him and dad and church and still somehow the quiet spaces she needed to fit herself into, he knew, were too many things pushing together. It was like the tech tonal plates under the ground they’d talked about once in school, that made big earthquakes where houses scrunched up like people who are too cold, and roads flew up in the air, to the sky, to nowhere, toward the Stories. He didn’t like either kind of earthquake; he liked the windy open sky, the soft pillowed clouds, both here on the earth, and in the smooth light brown of her face. That’s where the Stories were.
There was a small sound at the door, and there she was. The light from the hallway framed a fuzzy arch around her big blue sweater, the one that hung all the way down to her knees and that dad said was ridiculous, but she wore every single night, and her head and her shortshort hair that looked just like his.