I sit at my window as the clouds pick up speed. At first, I think it’s just a windy day. A typhoon day: that’s why nobody’s come to get me ready for school. But the trees aren’t moving, aren’t swaying in the wind. Mrs James’s washing’s just hanging flat. Only the clouds are moving, spinning now like the world does when you’re on a merry-go-round. (Dad took me on a merry-go-round once.)
I watch as the clouds – whippy, fluffy, perfect clouds that would make my teacher say ‘too cartoonish’ if I drew them myself – go faster and faster. Faster than ever before. I’m on the edge of my bed, watching for ages, ‘till the clouds are going so quick that I can’t really focus on them, ‘till my tummy rumbles. I’ll have to make my own lunch again.
Round and round they go, whizzing across a swimming pool sky. If I try to follow one it makes me sick, makes my empty tummy grumble. Sometimes I have to focus on Mrs James’s pants so that I won’t barf. I wonder if I’m seeing the same clouds again and again, if they’ve been all the way around the world and back. I wish mama would come see. I’d go get her, wake her; but don’t want to miss any of it.
She’ll be up soon anyway. I’m holding the medicines I took from her room. Mama’ll be angry she can’t find them, but it’s for the best. The big blue ones are the coolest. Same perfect blue as out there, like I’ve got tiny pieces of sky trapped in a bottle. They wiggle against the plastic. I think they want out. One feels heavy in my hand. Heavy like it did on my tongue.
Stewart McKay is a Hong Kong based writer and teacher. His short stories and flash fiction have been published and shortlisted in various online publications, such as Grindstone Literary and Fiction Factory. He is also a long-time member of the Hong Kong Writers Circle, and his work has featured in several of the group’s acclaimed anthologies.