The Friend Above
by Casey Cox

watercolor of boy with clouds superimposed

One day a boy was enjoying the weather while taking a break from his hike in the forest.

He loved the feeling of freedom he got in the forest and he had a favorite spot to sit by himself and enjoy the peace of nature.

As he sat there one day enjoying the sun and listening to the breeze and animals' conversation, he heard a peculiar sound.

“Pssst,” came the sound from somewhere overhead.

The boy looked around but saw nothing, so he went back to relaxing and listening to the forest. “Pssst,” came the sound again, this time a bit louder, and this time the boy was convinced it was more than just the noise of the breeze.

“Pssst,” came the sound a third time from above, and this time it was followed by, “up here.”

The boy looked up to the sky, convinced that he had heard a real voice and not just imagined it.

But all he saw was a single fluffy cloud hovering in the troposphere.

“Who's there?” asked the boy, curiously.

“It is me, the cloud, but you can only see me if you believe this is really happening,” replied the voice. “Do you believe?”

The boy thought to himself for a moment and then answered confidently, “Yes, I believe.”

The cloud then changed before the boy's eyes and he stood there looking up in amazement. The cloud had a face and its lips moved as it spoke to the boy below.

“Oh, it is so good to finally speak to someone!” exclaimed the cloud with excitement.

“I have circled the world more times than I can count and you are the first person to ever believe in me.”

“Of course I believe,” said the boy proudly. And the two began to have a long conversation.

The cloud told the boy the most amazing stories of things it had seen as it traveled all around the world time and time again, carried by the sometimes violent winds above.

The cloud told the boy how the pyramids were built and it shared the secrets of what happens on the mysterious ocean when no humans are around.

It told him first-hand accounts of the great adventures of famous sea explorers and of the devastating sorrows caused by wars between nations.

All of this the boy listened to intently, until the wind began blowing and the cloud began to slowly drift away. “I will find you again soon my friend,” said the cloud as it began moving across the sky.

“Have a great trip and I will see you soon,” said the boy happily, waving farewell to the cloud.

“Oh, and one thing I want you to know,” said the cloud. “You are my first true friend and I will always protect you.” They both smiled and felt happy, because they were the first true friends each had ever made.

Over the years as the boy grew older the cloud came and visited him many times. The boy would share stories that were important to him and the cloud would always listen patiently and with great interest.

When the boy had problems, the cloud would give the best advice. It always had the right story.

“Did you know I have never had a dad?” asked the boy one day. The cloud answered softly, “Yes, I was there the day he died in the accident. I am very sorry my friend.”

“You have been more than a friend, you have been like my dad, and that is why I love you cloud,” replied the boy, and the cloud blew a soft breeze on the boy's face.

All the time the boy talked to the cloud he never paid attention to the fact that other people were watching him.

“He is weird because sometimes he talks to himself,” said the kids at school. “That boy needs to see a doctor,” said the adults in the neighborhood. They of course could not hear nor see the cloud because they did not believe.

As the boy continued to talk to the cloud his mother grew more and more worried about him. Then one day she checked him into a hospital.

The boy was kept inside for months as the doctors ran tests on him to try to discover what was making him talk to himself.

They reminded him over and over that his story about the cloud was nonsense because talking clouds are not part of reality.

Finally the boy was convinced by the doctors that he must have been imagining the cloud and he stopped believing.

He was released from the hospital and over time he made new friends at school because he was no longer talking to something they could not see.

When the boy was in the hospital the cloud had been so worried because it could not find him.

But one day the cloud saw him on the playground playing with other kids and this made the cloud so happy.

“Pssst,” said the cloud, as it always did when it called the boy's attention. But the boy did not look up with a smile on his face.

“It is just my imagination,” said the boy to himself, and he ignored the sound and continued to play with his new friends. This made the cloud very sad and it floated away with the wind, lonely again.

Over the next few years, as the boy grew up into a young man, the cloud made an attempt each time it passed overhead to talk with the boy again. But he just ignored the “pssst-s” and it was as if he had never even spoken with the cloud at all.

Then one day as the boy and a couple of friends were hiking in the forest, they came upon a mother bear and her cub. The bear became very angry, to protect her cub, and the boys were in great danger.

The bear stood up on its hind legs and let out a terrible growl as it raised its sharp claws to strike the boy with, but just as it began to swing down at the boy a magnificent lightning bolt came tearing down from the sky.

This scared the two bears away, and the boy and his friends sat there in amazement, happy to be unharmed. Then the boy remembered something he was told many years ago when he was sitting in this exact same place in the forest.

“I will always protect you,” was what he had been told, and the boy looked to the sky.

Floating above in the sunny blue sky was a single fluffy cloud, that looked like just an ordinary cloud. The boy knew that if he said hello to the cloud his two friends would laugh at him and call him crazy and tell everyone at school that he was talking to himself again.

The boy did not want to lose his new friends and all the progress he had made the past few years.

But he also remembered how loved he had felt by the only true friend he had ever had.

The boy looked back up at the cloud, and it appeared to start drifting away. He noticed rain drops falling from its fluffy white center. “Wait!” yelled the boy, looking up to the sky.

“Wait for what?” asked his two friends, immediately suspicious of what he was talking to. “Wait cloud, I believe! I believe in you!” cried the boy, ignoring his friends.

They began to laugh at him and call him the same names they had called him years before. But it did not matter to the boy. He wanted to experience real happiness again.

The cloud came back across the sky and its face re-appeared. Two soft eyes and a warm smile greeted the boy from above. “Do you believe again?” asked the cloud.

“Yes! Yes, I believe, and I will always believe, forever,” yelled the boy with excitement. “I'm sorry cloud for ignoring you.”

“That is the past and it does not matter. What matters is now and all I can say is welcome back,” said the cloud with a chuckle.

They began catching each other up on the important stories of their experiences from the past few years, and it was as if they had never stopped being friends at all.

The End

written by Casey Cox, 2005, copyright

The author lives in Washington, USA.

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