Wednesday, 20 July 2011
'Lonely As A Cloud'
by Sandrine Lopez
"I wondered as lonely as a cloud..."
Celine wished she could. Her soft, fine-as-mist body, high above the world. Over and away from the messy muddle of people, their noise and annoyance.
This was why she watched clouds, as a weather station monitor. She had her own cloud in tow, like a guardian angel. Even as a girl, there was always one over her. Some called it mood. She named it 'joie', the French for happiness.
She was happy in her top-of-the-hill world, more home than home itself, reporting for a nearby airport. It was reflected in the summer downpour. The unrelenting wetness made her smile.
Until Eddie arrived.
The first Celine knew of him was the crunch of tyres on gravel outside. A car door slam intrusion. Then his silhouette in the station door. Sunlight began to filter through her clouds, lending him a halo of iridescent rainbow wings.
To Celine, sunlight was unhappiness. Blue sky grew above them, scattering her tempestuous clouds away.
She ran to the window, as sickening pus-yellow sunlight illuminated the country below. Sensed the messy people cheering as their Saturday weather turned.
No longer any clouds, not even hers, above. Only the lifeless, desert-like emptiness of azure light. The single pimple of the sun on it. Blistering painful heat.
"Turned out nice, I see." Eddie offered.
Celine's glare back was just as blistering.
* * *
Eddie held the station in awe. A technological heaven watching its meteorological counterpart.
"Weather fascinates me." he explained, "The Met gave me permission to visit. Didn't they inform you?"
Snowdrift of unopened mail propping up a corner. Celine gave cold front. A shrug.
Eddie, like the sun, filled rooms with cheery social light. Welcome wherever he shone. Except here.
Where others forecast using mechanical means interpreted by experience, Celine had an instinct for weather, only using station measurements to confirm what she felt, give unemotional figures to the plane people. She was never wrong.
Meteorology. Definition: Study of the atmosphere and its phenomena. Celine could taste the air, its subtleties and nuances, as a food or wine connoisseur would. But she had miscalculated the human element. No interest in it. Now one, like flapping butterfly wings creating tornadoes, had thrown her. A sacrifice to chaos.
Eddie could cut the station atmosphere with a knife. No expertise required to sense that.
He opened a window to let warmer air in. A rainbow-coloured butterfly flapped in.
Warning before the storm.
"Tell me about the clouds." Eddie asked. Ice breaker, if any.
With a sincerity doubting sigh, Celine yawned a way through textbook, 101, definitions.
"No, not what they are. Tell me about how they feel."
She seemed to see him properly for the first time. Visibility clearing, half a smile.
Celine led him to glass, her window on the sky. A single cloud, solitary drifter, her 'joie', had once again taken residence above.
"Imagine that swirling body, overcasting the whole sky." Celine's true passion emerged, "Its textures and colour, shades of grey, blotting out the sun."
Eddie considered. "The sun gives life. Some still worship it."
"False idol." She countered, "So does water. Life started in the sea." Vague gestures between them. "We're still largely water too." Eddie smiled. Some were a percentage of sun too.
They watched the weather quietly through afternoon and evening, clouds darting back and forth until they clothed the descendant sun in gold and red.
"Would the sunset be as glorious without clouds?" Celine pondered.
"Or without the sun?" Eddie put his hand partly over hers.
Surprising herself, Celine entwined her cool fingers with his warm ones.
50 per cent cover, she considered the cloud ceiling. Neither one forecast or another.
Mirror of her mixed emotions.
Night was the only time Celine didn't mind clear skies. Moonlight was coolly soothing, even in summer.
"You realise that moonlight is only reflected sunlight." Eddie told her.
Celine nodded. The glow from the celestial crescent reflected on his profile too. Man in the moon lite. Still too earthly for her.
"It's late." She said. "There's a bunk if you want to stay."
More tolerance than acceptance but a warmer clime for Eddie, as he took the top bunk, above her.
Sun up was 06:12.
Celine was already awake, watching her sky. Still 50 per cent cover. Undecided.
Forecast could go either way. Chaos in a coin flip. Unfamiliar tastes.
Eddie was akin to his meteorological namesake. Behaved differently from the larger volume of people. Unlike her weather, unpredictable.
"Good morning." His voice behind her.
The outside door and window rattled in a sudden wind. Clouds were buffeted past as Celine's mind raced. Beaufort scale six, rising.
Eddie studied the atmosphere as he walked towards her. The barometer was falling. But Celine was far from depressed. She actually beckoned him to watch the growing tempest.
"Isn't it wonderful?" she asked gleefully, as rain speckled the glass. Growing to trickles as heaven opened. New waters.
Eddie had to smile, a different reaction to expected. Celine really loved the clouds, the rain, unlike most who wanted sun and heat, as he did. Forces of nature. Equal yet opposite.
Damn it, he thought, she was the clouds, the rain, the very weather. But an inversion from the norm. That made her even more interesting. Personification of his fascination.
Impulsively, he took her chin in his fingers. Drew her lips to his. Kiss the rain.
Lightning flared outside. Something sparked.
The barometer continued falling. Eddie stepped away, letting her consider.
"No pressure." he said finally, as heaven dripped and splashed outside.
Celine found him outside. Just standing in rain, letting the cold wind hug him, run its fingers through his hair. The flash bang of lightning and thunder overhead lit and shook him.
He saw, and shouted over the torrent, "I'm trying to imagine what..." Threw his head to the grey sky, then arms wide before wrapping them round his drenched body.
At her bemused frown, he squelched to his car, revved the engine and was gone.
As Celine unsteadily padded among the puddles, the rain stopped. The sun peered through her clouds, shook its shiny head at the storm wrought devastation.
The clouds dissipated to 50 per cent again, a tapestry of sapphire and pearl hue.
Wetness on her cheeks. Uncertain if they were tears, or a memory of rain.
The rest of that day was sun, with only a strong breeze.
Not what she forecast. Celine felt as blue as the firmament.
Fuck the weather, she thought, fuck people! And fuck Eddie!
Her sky was empty. As above, so below.
Celine phoned through the forecast to the airport, then spied the drift of mail. Shoveled through it for ones postmarked Met Office.
Eventually she found it. The letter even had his number on it. Thumbed it into the phone pad with heavy determination, like hailfall.
An answer came there none.
The sun retired to its horizon bed, weary at mopping up after the storm. Weary at her day too, Celine slumped in the lower bunk. Closed her eyes to blot out the dying brightness.
The forecast was clear skies with the odd scattered cloud. That figured.
A splash on her face. She blinked away the drop. More fell on her arms and legs.
Then Celine was aware of a man-shaped cloud lying on the wire mesh, faux sky above, its mattress removed. A cloud which softly rained on her.
How Eddie got there, why he still dripped from the earlier cloudburst, she didn't care. Stranger things in heaven and earth.
A new angel over her. Slowly he descended from bunk heaven, and found a new one in her.
"I missed your call but recognised the number." He told her.
He looked weathered. Damp and cool from the earlier tempest. Celine liked that against her. Peeled off his rain-filled clothes. Felt the charged potential within him, like lightning.
The weather may be predictable but Eddie wasn't. She would have to work on that. Find ways to forecast his behavior.
Celine warmed him with her pale unsunned complexion. She was not without heat either but hers was the hot wet clinging humidity of summer. Of dew burned to mist by sun.
Eddie ran his lips over her in a pitter-patter of raindrop kisses. Then they were both clouds, damp and grey in twilight, their textures swirling and mixing in the growing wind. Summer evening perspiration, like condensation, all over.
They shared their moisture, dripping and splashing as much inside, as it was pounding on the night dark glass outside.
For that night, the rain was torrential.