The Virtual Red Couch is hosting a collaborative short story project. Each week, a new author will continue the story. Check back every Monday to see how the story unfolds!
Written by Murphy Obershaw
They followed the Cloud in silence, treading over the grassy field and its numerous wildflowers. Emma kept thinking about what she would say and how she would say it, but everytime she opened her mouth, she was at a loss for words.
The silence was too much for Daniel, he had to break it. “So what’s it like being a cloud?”
“Daniel,” Emma whispered. She wondered why he would ask such a question. She was also terrified of offending the Cloud and getting rained on again.
“Um,” the Cloud began, “it’s nice not being bogged down by gravity like some creatures are. I just float along anywhere I like. Up and down. Side to side. Although, if there is a lot of wind and I am close to the ground, I can get swept away.
Emma was astounded by the Cloud’s answer and wished James was here to hear all of this.
Daniel, however, tried to act casual. “That’s cool.”
Now that the silence was broken, Emma started to find her words again. “So, you said that it was partly your fault that our brother is here. What did you mean by that?”
“Well, there I was floating alongside my siblings in the sky when I saw a hole appear in the ground. As you can probably guess, I decided to check it out. In the hole, there was a spiral staircase, and when I descended a few steps, I was in a room full of books. Then a small child pointed at me and gasped. I tried to float away, but he followed me up the stairs. He told me his name was James and asked me if I was the one who told Remy the secrets of the clouds.”
“Great,” Daniel moaned. “James figured out it was a Cloud before we di—I mean—before you did.” He looked away, so he would not catch Emma glaring at him.
“As I was saying,” the Cloud continued, “I was about to ask what sort of creature a ‘Remy’ was when he looked up at the sky and widened his eyes. Behind us was the Griffin, and as it landed, James screamed, but I assured him there was nothing to be worried about. James was a little shy at first, but he warmed up to the Griffin. He seemed to take a liking to your brother very quickly. He offered to give James a ride, and that is the last I saw of them.”
“I wonder if the Griffin will give me a ride when we find him,” Daniel said.
“But we don’t have time to take rides. We need to kind of hurry up our quest, so we can get back home to mom and dad,” Emma said.
“Just because you’re about to be an eighth grader, doesn’t mean you have to act like an adult,” Daniel whined, but then he tried to act casual again. “It’s a magical quest. These only come by only one in your lifetime IF you are lucky. Just enjoy it, okay?”
Everything wasn’t okay though. For as long as he could remember, he and Emma had gone to school together, and even though he stuck out his tongue at her whenever she and her friends passed by, he always liked having her around. That’s one of the perks of living in a small town: kindergarten through seventh grade were all in the same building. Emma was going to be in eighth grade though, and eighth graders take their classes on the ground floor of the high school while the high schoolers take theirs upstairs.
Everyone said that once you go to high school, you try to start acting like an adult. Girls start wearing makeup, reading magazines, and spending their time shopping at the stores in one of the bigger towns. Eighth grade girls don’t sit around and watch cartoons on Netflix with their brothers or have a water gun fight or build forts or take them to the bookstore. She was a pretty cool sister and he was afraid of losing her, even though he would rather die than admit that. Emma was starting to act more “responsible,” and Daniel feared that was the first step. However, he still had this summer before she was a real eighth grader, and he was determined to enjoy it. Who cares whether mom and dad ground them for not coming home quickly? At least they would all be stuck at home together.
As they followed the floating Cloud, the terrain shifted from plains to forest. There were many tall trees that they had to weave around. They must have been following the floating Cloud for a while because their stomachs started to growl.
“Um, is there anywhere we could stop for some dinner?” Daniel asked.
“Oh,” said the Cloud. “I suppose it is time for a break. There is some fruit in these trees. You could munch on those.”
Daniel and Emma looked up at the fruit in the trees. “How would we get it down?” Emma asked Daniel who just shrugged.
“Why, you ask it of course.” The Cloud floated over to one of the trees before Emma nor Daniel could question it. “Excuse me, good Tree. Would you be so kind as to give these children some of your fruit? We have been traveling for a while, and they are quite hungry.”
“But of course.” The Tree creaked and bent over slightly. Then, it lowered one of its branches and started to gently shake it. “Catch.”
Within a couple seconds, fruit started to fall to the ground. Emma and Daniel looked at each other, and then ran over to catch their dinner. Once they had each caught one, the Tree stopped shaking the branch, raised the branch up, and returned to its original position.
“Th-hank you,” Emma said to the Tree. She looked at the fruit in her hand. It was a round brownish bulb. “It looks like a fig.”
Daniel took out his pocket knife and cut it in fourths. He handed the knife to Emma and took a bite of the fruit’s interior.
“It tastes like a fig too,” Daniel said.
“Of course it’s a fig,” the Cloud remarked. “What were you expecting?”
“I don’t know. Maybe some sort of weird spiky fruit that would give us the power to fly or super strength,” Daniel said.
“That’s silly,” said the Cloud. “It’s just fruit from a tree. When I was floating above you two listening to what you were saying about fantasy books, I thought you would know how they worked. Where is this added nonsense about fruit that gives you powers coming from? I guess your sister hasn’t shared all of her knowledge of these places with you yet.”
So that’s how it knew I liked to read, Emma thought. She and Daniel sat down on a rock and ate the figs they caught along with the ones that fell on the ground. Emma grabbed two figs and put one in each of her pockets for James in case he would be hungry when they found him. Daniel did the same.
They could tell they were nearing the edge of the forest because there seemed to be less trees and more rocks as they went along.
“Are we getting closer to the mountains?” Emma asked.
“Oh yes,” the Cloud said. “This rocky path will take us straight to the mountains.”
“If we’re so close, how come we can’t see the mountains from here?” Daniel asked.
“Probably because of the fog,” Emma said.
“Right,” the Cloud responded. “The Griffin’s handler asked if us clouds could cover the mountains until—well, you’ll see when you get there.”
Emma and Daniel opened their mouths, but before either of them could ask, a pink pig jumped out onto the one of the bigger rocks.
“Hello,” the round little pig said in between soft grunts. “Do you happen to have any food?”
“I do,” Emma replied, taking out her two figs, “but I’m taking them to my little brother.”
“Oh,” Daniel said, taking his figs out as well. “Me too.”
Emma smiled at him. “I guess we can spare a fig for this Little Piggie.”
“Oh, boy!” she squealed excitedly. “I love figs!” She did a little jig of excitement to celebrate.
“Huh,” Daniel said. “Figs.”
“And pigs,” Emma said.
“That’s awesome,” they said at the same time. They looked at each other and laughed.
“Too bad this isn’t a LEGO world like in the LEGO Movie.”
“Um no.” Emma was still laughing. “We wouldn’t have anything to eat if this was the LEGO Movie. All their food is made out of LEGOS.”
“But it we were LEGO people—”
“Okay, okay. That’s enough. We need to keep going. Little Piggie, would you like to come with us to find our brother?” Emma gave the Little Piggie a scratch behind her ear.
“Sounds like fun,” she grunted.
The Cloud led Emma and Daniel along the rocky path with Little Piggie walking at their feet.
“Well,” Daniel said. “I guess we can check meeting a talking animal off the list now.”