Cloud Walkers


I slowly got out of bed, dragging my feet along the cloud floor. The morning sun glowed upon the almost ethereal utopia of clouds, Nuvem, the capital city of Nefelibata, a different world where people live on clouds. People happily walked down the shining streets with no problems in mind. But what lies below the clouds is a mystery. Some say it’s certain death, others say it’s never ending space, or that it’s just nothing. I could hear the transport pigeons cooing off in the distance and the ubiquitous breeze flowing through my window. I stumbled to the mirror, and staring straight back at me was a fairly short, green eyed girl, with fiery red hair. I hated my red hair growing up. It made me stand out amongst the Nefelibatans. I was the only person in Nuvem with my colored hair, everyone else had white or brown hair. Amongst the various cities in Nefelibata, bright colors easily stood out. I dismissed this thought as I put on my uniform: a gray skirt, white blouse, and light blue coat. I then made my way down the spiral stairs.
I stepped into the small but organized kitchen and I noticed my dad who was part of the council in our city was worriedly reading a letter he received from a pigeon. The council was made up of multiple people who basically took united action if something was wrong or if a decision had to be made. Meanwhile my mom was making the blueberry pancakes, while flipping the sugary white dough with an almost angry expression. They were acting weird, usually they were cheerful but they didn’t even acknowledge that I was in the room. “What’s wrong?” I question.
“Nothing” my dad quickly answered, not even looking away from the letter in his hands.
“Astrid, why don’t you go on to school early today.” my mom added in an almost demanding tone. I gave up and without another word I annoyedly picked up my bag and made my way out the door.
As I walked to school instead of paying attention to where I was going, my mind wandered elsewhere. My eyes skimmed from one person to the next. Though in varied style and clothing, everyone was wearing the city mandated colors: light blue, gray, and white. Their silk cloth reflected from the sun as they walked, allowing them to almost glow. My eyes continued to go from people walking on the streets to the calming blue sky. I examined the same buildings I saw everyday on my way to school. And, like always, my eyes fell on the engraved robin at the top of the town hall where we gathered and had meetings. The town hall is the most important building in Nuvem. It’s been around for as long as anyone can remember, and the only building made of something other than clouds. Everything in the town hall was made of ivory except the cloud floors. It was fantasy like, with huge pillars that reached far into the sky. And finally, there was the robin engraved at the top. The Robin was a bird with flaming red feathers just like my hair. To the Nefelibatans it meant something symbolic, though no one knew what it was. You could find engravings of robins all over the cities. They lived in something called forests with trees and could fly with something called wings. Many said it’s just a myth because no one had ever seen trees let alone a forest. My train of thought was interrupted as I abruptly walked into something or maybe someone. I quickly moved back and looked up to see Aster laughing at me.
“Watch where you’re going, airhead.” he teased.
Aster and I are the same age and have been friends since forever. We always walked to school together, and in our free time we goofed around. He has brown hair and green eyes like me. He is also unusually tall for a 14 year old. I smiled,
“I was watching.”
I sheepishly lied as we started walking to school together.
“My parents were acting weird this morning.” I mentioned as we walked, “My dad wouldn’t stop reading this letter he got from the council and he seemed pretty worried.”
“So was my mom.” Aster added. His mom was also in the council.
“Really? Do you think something is going on?”
“I don’t know, I didn’t ask.” he admitted, “But it can’t be that bad since they didn’t tell us right away. Right?”
“Right.” I answered, hiding my uncertainty.
School was over and I was standing in front of my door, hoping that my parents were in a better mood. I took a deep breath and gently opened the door, took my shoes off, and layed my bag by the doorway. My parents were now both sitting at the kitchen table but this time, they acknowledged when I came in. I realized their mood hadn’t changed as a dread washed over me.
“What is it?” I urged. They looked at each other before my mom spoke.
“The clouds are disappearing.” she stated almost too casually.
“What do you mean?” I answered in disbelief.
“Your dad got a pigeon from the council this morning saying a city fell through the clouds.” she explained in further detail.
I was in shock searching for thoughts or words, but they just kept slipping from my tongue like live fish slipping from a sailors hands and back into the ocean.
“It’s just like the prophecy.” my dad murmured a little too loudly to himself.
“What prophecy?” I demanded.
“Neil!” my mom snapped in despair. “We are not allowed to talk about that.”
“No, tell me.” I begged, “Tell me I won’t tell anyone. Please.”
“Ok,” my dad agreed as my mom scowled at him for giving in too easily, “she deserves to know, Nova.” he snapped back at her scowl. “There is a prophecy that only the council members know of. But we are prohibited from talking about it since it was believed to be a complete sham.” he explained, “‘The sky people will fall and only then will they wake up and spread their wings.’ Is the prophecy’” he finished.
I had never heard that prophecy before, what did it mean? What does “spread their wings” mean? And wake up from what? I didn’t want anything to change.
Each week went by with news of a new fallen city. Panic started spreading as people began questioning everything. The council members were struggling to make preparations in case our city fell to bring people together, because no one would listen. We were all at loss, for the world we grew up in could soon disappear. Some believed the Robin would save them, others believed it was all a lie and the clouds wouldn’t fall, others thought that they were doomed, but people like me didn’t know what to believe.
One day, a few weeks after the news of the city falling, I was with Aster when a screeching sound blasted from the speakers stabbing our eardrums. Sirens. We already knew what to do. We bolted up and ran to the town hall. And sure enough when we got there, a swarm of people were trying to fit into the doors all at once, like a school of fish running from a shark. Once everyone was in we were asked to sit down, I sat next to Aster as I unsuccessfully scanned the crowd in search of my parents. After about ten minutes I started to lose track of time. The hall was filled with murmuring when I overheard someone ask the person next to them how they knew the clouds were disappearing. A white haired classmate of mine answered, “They say they saw someone falling through the clouds by the school”. What if it was someone we knew, I thought. I panicked and turned to Aster to see if he heard. But when I looked he wasn’t there, I
looked around to realize that half the people weren’t there anymore. My eyes desperately bolted to the floor, the clouds were thinning out. And before I knew it I was falling. Time slowed, and people’s screams faded. My red hair even then stood out with the mellow colors of the sky surrounding me. My arms and legs were limp above me as tears flew up. Too scared to look down I looked to the sides, and saw hundreds of people peacefully falling next to me like bees falling from a poisoned hive. I looked up to see the town hall fading. A now unreachable world. My eyes catch a glimpse of the small engraved Robin one last time as I close my tear filled eyes.

Then everything stopped, it was quiet.
My eyes fluttered open and as I sat up I saw Aster and many others waking up around me. I looked around and was mesmerized as to what I was seeing. I was seeing trees. Thousands upon thousands of green trees all around with leaves being moved like clouds by the wind. I quickly look up and see a cloudless sky. It was a completely new world. But where were we? How did we get here? Questions that scrambled around my head were suddenly brought to a halt as my eyes saw a Robin. A real Robin, as it spread its wings and flew away.