The Cloud Princess

March 24, 2008
By Phoebe Villanueva, San Antonio, TX

The road was long, dark, angry. Although the sky was bright and merry, hatred and loss were covering it, preventing the revival of any joy. The little girl sat quietly in the back seat, frightened by the venom she felt her father pour into that steering wheel. Mommy used to drive. She looked out the window, and gazed lazily at the clouds. Their pliable shapes shifted in the gentle breeze.

“Oh, I see a dragon! Over by the mermaid!” They lay on the healthy grass, faces to the sky, hand in hand, mother and daughter. They were on top of a small hill under the shade of the elderly maple tree. Her father had found this hill, and as he was dragging them to the top in a little red wagon, he proclaimed it her mountain, which became Lily’s castle, and was now Lily’s Fairy Land, where it was law to find shapes in the clouds. Her father came up, majestically holding out two chilled glasses of water. “And for you, too, Madame. Don’t forget, tomorrow…”

“…you need to wear that black dress, the one…well, I’ll lay it out for you.” He did not sound like the brave young butler with a brisk walk and merry talk. Lily looked at her father- he wasn’t wearing his seat-belt; he always laughed and made Lily wear her seat-belt. The flowers she had picked last week were shriveling in a corner on a dashboard. Lily turned her head back out the window, pensively looking at a royal cloud. “Papa?...”

“…tomorrow, we are to attend a great feast, your highnesses, and you will both attend.” He bowed and flopped on the grass, his hands folded under his chin, pouring his love in his glance toward them both, his beauties, his miracles. The mother scooped Lily up. “Oh, and it shall have a ball! What shall we wear Lily, what shall we wear?!” Lily looked up laughing. “Mommy, that cloud looks like a princess. I think you should wear that dress.” Her mother looked to the sky, filled with ladies and gentlemen dancing in the wind to a wonderful orchestra. “And so Lily, when our day comes, I want you to look at those clouds and remember me, remember to tell me exactly what my dress is to look like, and we shall have one made for you and I!” Lily ran to her father. “Oh Papa! Could we really, Papa?...”

The wind was starting to blow the lonely princess dancing on the clouds. Lily did not take her eyes off of that cloud for one moment. “Why are there clouds, Papa?” It took him a bit to respond, his answer just an answer. “Makes the sky pretty, Lily.” The figure was dancing faster, round and round in circles, hair and dress flowing, and still Lily stared. “I believe we see them there, those who have gone, and when we do, we remember them. So she’s not really gone, is she?” The road seemed to soften, to turn from black to gray. Everything was warming up, brighter. “No.” The butler was back, Lily’s strong, brave butler. The cloud had vanished, but not really.

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