Head in the Clouds

A short story by – For Lack of Paper

Several types of Cirrus clouds.

Head tilted, I watched a great white dragon soaring lazily through the sky.

“Oof! Watch it, shorty!” Of course I’d bumped into Basil, Head Gorilla in my class.

“Oi, Baz, it’s that loser, Wally,” grunted Gorilla Number Two.

“Head in the clouds again,” grunted Gorilla the Third, and they all snorted.

“Better not happen again, Wally,” Basil shoved me off, nearly knocking me on my back, “Keep your eyes down here, yeah?” The trio called childish insults back at me as they walked off.

I looked back to the skies, in search of my dragon; it was gone now, the clouds dissipated and the shape lost. I sighed and trudged off to class, still watching every now and then to see if the dragon would return.

“The history of the comma is a fascinating thing,” droned the English teacher, “In fact, in 1683…”

Fascinating how quickly it cures insomnia, I thought to myself, my eyes drifting out the window. A rabbit flies by, wrestling a pig for some reason. The rabbit’s winning, I suppose because it can use its forepaws better. I shook my head and tried to pay attention.

“…and a duel was fought to the death in 1874, over whether the Oxford comma must be used in…”

A duel to the death. It looked like a duel outside as well, as a wolf and a snake faced off, waiting for the other to strike first. My odds were on the wolf.

I could see the white dragon again, coming in along the eastern wind – he came back! The clouds were swirling, writhing like I’d imagine a dragon’s tail would as it flies. He seemed to look ever more real as he soared; he was getting larger, so that it even felt like he was coming right to the window.

Then, there was a knock. A resounding, echoing knock.

I looked around. Everyone was acting like they didn’t hear it.

Knock. Knock. Knock.

Still no-one seems to notice.

I look for myself, seeing if there’s anyone by the door. It’s wide open, and there’s nobody there. At the front of the class, the teacher is still happily talking about commas, something about ‘tail swishes’ now.

I check by the window, and there it is. The white dragon is right outside of the window, butting its head against it. I stand, pushing my chair back with a loud screech.

“Wallace, what are you doing?” the Boring English Teacher asked.

“Nothing,” I answered, opening the window and jumping out onto the grass just beneath. Teacher and class don’t matter after that, whatever they did, because I was outside – with a great, big, dragon!

“Hello?” I ask, just in case the dragon could talk. It butted me with its snout instead. “Oi! So I’m guessing you can’t talk.” It nodded with deliberate slowness, before lowering itself to the ground, head at rest.

“Oh, are you tired?” The dragon snorted, a puff of smoke erupting from its nostrils. It was laughing at me! It turned its head, gesturing towards its back several times.

“You want me to climb on?” The dragon nodded, slowly and deliberately, as though it thought me a bit dim. I scrambled up over its neck, resting between its shoulder blades and wrapping my arms around.

The dragon took off in a rush of wingbeats, nearly making me lose my grip in startlement. I held on all the tighter, losing my fear of hurting it when I saw its strength for myself. It rose high into the air, riding the wind up in a powerful glide before levelling out. My scream of exhilaration carried out on the breeze, probably startling people below.

After calming down, I looked behind, to where we had met. The school looked so small now, like a little toy model of a house instead of the place where I’d spent so much of my young life. It made me think, of how small we must look to the clouds high above.

We soared across the blue skies, above the cloud-line. Below was a group of mice playing a game of chase, and a light-grey dog that ran along below us. I could almost hear its bark as a puff of cloud went by, before it joined in a merry chase of it.

The sky was alive! It was full of creatures large and small, and I was so ready to see more! We passed a little grey spider, its legs scuttling as it moved. A snake popped out from a cloud-bank and slithered away, startled by our passing.

Before I’d known what was happening, the sky was turning dark, the clouds before us turning to black. The dragon was waving this way and that, seemingly nervous..or eager, I wasn’t sure.

Dark, shadowy creatures emerged from the storm-clouds, creatures I was glad I could only see the forms of. One was like a mixture of a horse and a monkey; another, a winged beast with a great many spikes over its body.

The dragon’s great body swept forward in a rush, nearly losing me again with the speed of it. Before I knew it, he’d set his powerful jaws upon a massive cobra, removing its head. The rest of the cobra fell in a heap, dissipating into the clouds below. “WOO!” I yelled, from the adrenalin as much as victory. We were already upon his next target, a wolf with three heads, which the dragon threw across the sky, with a powerful toss of his head after snapping it up in his jaws.

From below and behind came a great many white creatures – rabbits and mice, possums and cats and dogs and eagles, and many more that I couldn’t look behind long enough to make out. The melee was joined in earnest, as white battled against dark; several white creature crowded the dark winged beast, coming from more sides than it could handle. It struggled this way and that, trying desperately to lash out at at least a rabbit, before it fell towards the earth, blowing away to nothing on the wind.

The darkness was on the retreat, creatures withdrawing back into the clouds. We had won! White creatures crowded around the dark clouds, snapping at the heels of any dark ones too slow in retreating. When the last little spider had crawled back to the cloud from which it had come, the white creatures slowed, and came to rest.

The mice laid down their little heads together, and their forms fell gradually into a little puff of clouds. A great white dog was lying protectively around a group of small cats, as they blended into one. I could still see some of the shape though, of the great dog’s peacefully protective form. One by one, the creatures laid to rest, and became a part of the wide white cloud bank that hung beside  dark grey, guarding against their counterparts’ return.

The white dragon was the last one left now. With a great roar, he rose higher, his form weaving through the sky in a victorious, happy dance along the winds. Finally, he turned to the earth, in a fast dive. We danced in swirling loops, before touching back down, back on solid ground. I slid off of his back and landed myself, my legs a little wobbly from the flight.

“Thank you, dragon. That was amazing!” I bow to him, before rushing up and hugging his neck. “Go and join your friends, now; I’ll be looking to the sky for you, for when you come back.”

The dragon let out a friendly snort, butting me with his head before he left. He turned, raising his great wings and taking off with a powerful leap. He let out his loudest roar yet as he rose, and turned his head to me with a wink, before gliding away on the breeze.

I watched until the dragon had disappeared, and turned with a smile, to go back. The window was still open from when I left, so I climbed back in, and rushed back to my seat.

The Boring English Teacher had his back turned, but when he looked, he must have been surprised to see me back – and paying attention for once. Not for very long, of course. I looked to the window, where in the sky, a great white dragon sat silently atop a mass of black and white clouds.

I’d rather have my head in the clouds; things seem much more interesting up there.

Author’s Note:  Well, I hope you enjoyed the story! I wrote this from my times seeing dragons in the clouds, flying on the winds, and imagining riding them. What do you see in the clouds? Do you still look, every now and then, and make out planes, and animals, and other things?

Hope you enjoyed!

For Lack of Paper


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