Posted by: Kathryn Hulick | July 20, 2011

The Cloud Project

Highway home from Cape Cod. July 4, 2011.

Sunset drive

Once I thought of a great idea for a website. You take pictures of clouds — all kinds of clouds — big stormy dark ones, small puffy ones, weird-shaped ones that you’d never believe were real unless you saw them. Then you let people draw what they see in the clouds. Like, if they see a dragon, they draw in where the wings and teeth are. If they see a creep with a knife, they draw that. But you don’t get to see what other people drew until you draw something.

My mistake was I told Dad the idea.

“It’s a great idea, Rae. Try it!” Dad said. He always wants me to act on things. “Do it. Try it.” Right.

So I tried it. I didn’t know how to make the drawing and sharing part work on a website, but I found a free program and my friends came over. They drew on top of my cloud photos while I waited, picking at my blue fingernail polish.

Rhianna thought of some cool things. She’s not exactly an artist, but I could figure out she’d drawn a pirate ship and an alligator. Troy drew a penis. And wrote “SEX” in huge letters on another picture. He thought it was hilarious. I wanted to kill him.

“Are you 16 or 10?” Rhianna asked, and deleted his pictures.

I smiled. Rhianna and I were like twins separated at birth. We looked so much alike that people got our names mixed up all the time.

“Hey!” He lunged for the laptop, but the whole thing was already over.

“You’re such an idiot, Troy.” I rolled my eyes, but he knew I’d forgiven him.

There would never be a cloud website. It was just a stupid thing from when I was a kid, wondering what other people saw in the clouds. If it was the same thing I saw.

That’s what I used to focus on when Mom and Dad were fighting — there were almost always clouds rolling over our house in the flat part of Colorado. And then my house divided into a Boston apartment with Mom during the summer plus a condo with Dad during the school year.

At least when I was with Dad, I still had my old friends around. On July 1st, I’d have to pack up my stuff and get on a plane. Seeing Mom was the only good part about Boston. How can people breathe in a place where you can’t see farther than the next block? The next fenced-in tree?

“I’ll be right back.” I left Rhianna and Troy in my room and opened the bathroom door as I walked past. But I didn’t really have to go. I tiptoed out to the porch. Tonight, there was a mackerel sky. Mom taught me that — it means the sky is mottled with tiny baby clouds so close together that it looks like a maze you have to solve.

My maze was how to reach my baby brother. Aidan. The boy who couldn’t talk, couldn’t play. He stayed with Mom all year and she moved mostly because of an autism specialist in Boston who thought he could learn to speak. I missed him more than anything. Did he miss me?

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