A Stellar Flare of Young Adult Writing and Visual Art
BY SACHIN ALLUMS
Clouds are overrated. If you took your fist and punched a cloud, it would dissipate and fly away. A cloud appears fluffy and looks like it contains something essential, something deep within it, but there is nothing there to touch. Clouds are like a mask, but they don’t have anything underneath.
Clouds are called different names. There are stratus clouds that form horizontal layers with a uniform base. There are cumulus clouds with flat bottoms and cotton-like shells. There are marshmallow clouds with a sweet shape and a gelatinous top. There are dragon clouds that breathe fire and move their tails in dizzying patterns to catch the eyes of other clouds. There are even delicate, butterfly clouds that are learning to spread their wings for the first time, that need space to bloom, and that are sometimes misnamed as just another insect. No matter what we call them, someone else always has a better idea of what clouds are.
Clouds are showy. Appearances are everything to them. Clouds shift and change to receive praise because even if not every cloud knows it, they need some sort of compliment from someone else to soar to higher heights. Clouds are afraid of losing the attention of their viewers, so they constantly change forms because the worst thing in the world is for a cloud to look like a cloud.
Clouds are slow. They don’t move much faster than a continent because there is no need. Some clouds are confused by this. They don’t immediately understand that there is no rush to end a journey because there is no specific destination. There is always time for clouds to wander away, to be hugged by other clouds, to be admired by tiny little particles naming them from below, to be a cloud.
Clouds are emotional. When a cloud is sad, they show their feelings. When another cloud leaves them and the whole world seems to end, they start to grumble. They mutter their rage and thunder away at anything below them and get stormy and gray and ugly and dark. Sometimes, they get so mad that they strike out at anything beneath them because they just need to unleash a spark of anger, but that never does any good. In order for a cloud to get over a heartbreak or to return to the pure white form that’s expected of them, they need to cry. And once they’re done crying, they feel better because other clouds rush towards them and cry with them to let them know that even in their lowest moment, even when they feel like no one else in the sky knows what they are feeling, someone else is there. For clouds, it isn’t a sign of weakness to cry. Feelings are what unites clouds, what gives them power, what lets them be admired, what tells them that there is something important under every layer of fluff, what lets them know that they don’t need to constantly change into another form for someone else because they are themselves. And that’s all you can ask a cloud to be.
Sachin Allums of Austin, Texas is 17 years old.