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Clouds of Glass
My momma is the most beautiful person in the whole world. She always wears a white, white sundress. And when she twirls in the sun she looks like one of the palest daisy’s, her hair the bright yellow center. She laughs and calls to me, for momma always wants to laugh. She calls to me, laughing, like a contagious bought of burbling joy, voice crystalline pure. While she calls, her white, white dress spins about her in lazy circles.
Momma bugs dad. She always has. My dad is a lawyer. A stiff, crisp, closed off lawyer. Every morning at half past seven, he kisses my cheek, tells me to be good, and walks out the door. He carries the same leather briefcase, wears the same brand of tuxedo, and shines his shoes every Saturday without fail. I never understood how they fell in love.
Where dad is orderly and lives by patterns, momma loves to live sporadically. She says life is better that way. No lines. At night, when she sneaks into my room, we whisper about me skipping school, maybe going down to the fields to pick some wildflowers. Because momma loves wildflowers.
Dad is allergic to everything. Flowers, cats, dogs, grass, trees, strawberries, dairy. You name it. His diet somewhat resembles his life, because of his allergy restrictions. His breakfast consists of a piece of toast, two eggs over easy, half a cup of instant hash browns and a strong cup of Folders coffee. Lunch is the same, five different shades of boring. And dinner, well don’t get him started. Momma cooks dinner and she makes something different every night. Last night it was stir fry. Dad freaked. He’s allergic to tomato.
When momma and I were together, it was smiles. All the time. She never understood sad. When my pet rabbit died, she buried it then tickled me over it’s grave. I begged for her to stop but she never did. I laughed. Long and hard. I remember that I thought my ribs would crack from the pain. Eventually we both collapsed on the ground.
That Sunday, she took me out of our Sunday school. I hated it. Our teacher was a persnickety old lady who was fond of hitting children with a yardstick, and telling them they were going to hell. But she got me out. She said I had a dentist appointment. I knew it was a lie. But I went.
We walked down to the fields. The old empty ones that no one owned by the woods. On a nice day, the sky would be the bluest blue. Like a pure droplet of water, spread above me. I never tired of its color.
And that color. It sucked sound too. You could hear any noise from a mile away. Momma liked those days, those days when the noise echoed. We could hear our laughter climb to the heavens, bounce off and reverberate all around us.
She like to spin. We would pick wild flowers and when we got bored, she would take me by the hands and spin me. Round and round. In endless circles. The sky spun, and clouds weaved into one solid blur. When she stopped we would both collapse in the soft, sweet smelling grass. It was fresh and green and cool. The sky would tilt back and forth as our dizziness wore off.
And when it was completely worn off, then we would talk. Momma would always say the most interesting things. The most strange things. But I, I was like a child with candy. I loved listening and I always wanted more. I sucked things out of her comments.
“Look, look Cass. Clouds of glass. Clouds of glass.” Her voice was somber, but happy. She loved the clouds.
“What do you mean momma?”
“Cass, those clouds, they’re clouds of glass. Them clouds are fragile. Real fragile. If you’re not careful, you might break them. Those clouds are pretty, but they’ll fall on your head really quick like.”
“Have you ever broken a cloud?”
“No. I swim around them. I like those clouds of glass. I would never break one. Your father though…”
“What about dad?”
“He’s a trampler. He runs through life right over the clouds. Right on top. He doesn't even feel it when they fall on him.
Momma paused. I could see her slender face thinking something through. She reached back and brushed back a strand of wind tousled gold hair. Her blue eyes stared straight up, as if watching the clouds, but I knew she wasn’t. She was thinking. Momma was somewhere deep inside herself. She turned back to me.
“Can you promise me something?”
I turned to her. Momma loved to make promises and they were dead serious. A promise was no joke.
“Never break a cloud. I’d hate to see you get hurt when one falls on you.”
I nodded. My mother was never wrong. If she said not to break those pure puff clouds in the sky, then heck, I never would. Ever. But that was it. That Sunday. I don’t know what happened, but for the first time, I felt the clouds come raining down on me. Each piece felt sharp. Like a jab under my skin. I was normal on the outside. But I hurt on the inside.
I was ten that day. Ten when my parents got a divorce. I never understood the force that drove them apart, even when I had spent years wondering about the force that drove them together. My dad filed for the papers. I think it was after my school called. My record showed twelve sick days. I hadn’t been sick in seven months. He knew Momma had been taking me out of school. He was furious.
That night, he yelled at Momma. I was up in my room, listening at the floor boards. I could hear his voice ringing through the living room. I could hear momma’s voice too. She was hard to pin down. I could tell. Every comment, every barb dad sent at her she brushed off with precision. But still, their fight hurt. They argued, but he had never yelled at her before. I thought it was my fault.
That one fight, it was the one that killed their marriage. Momma didn’t believe in school. She said that the way to learn about the world was to be in it. Dad said that school was mandatory. He was right. But I didn’t want to believe it. Momma was like a god to me. She knew everything and anything. She was like a dictionary to life, with a convenient search bar. But she still left me. That Monday.
Momma did leave. She said that she would come back. She promised. She packed a little brown suitcase, with all her favorite things. Then she left. She needed space she said. I didn’t believe her. At night sometimes, I would listen in the dark. Imagining that the phone would ring. Momma would call. She would ask me how my day was. But it never happened. Not once. I was so confused when the divorce happened. And them my favorite person in the whole world left me. I was hurt. Momma was gone.
And me. That hurt little ten year old. I grew up to be a fourteen year old girl. I moved on from sundresses and playing in fields where flowers spread like a rainbow carpet. I grew away from smiles and laughter. I grew away from doing whatever I wanted. Because it was better to fit in. And fitting in meant being in my father’s world. The world of one slice of toast, two eggs over easy, half a cup of hashbrowns and a cold glass of orange juice every morning for breakfast. Nothing was different. Because in my father’s world, different was bad.