by Soramimi Hanarejima
You’re upset that she has bought the ultimate luxury: a cloud. It has no practical value and will soon dissipate. Superfluous, transient and expensive, it’s exactly the kind of thing that—though gossamer—grates on your nerves. She’s never spent this kind of money on you, and you could never spend this kind of money on yourself.
You regard the cloud with disdain as it hovers in its corner of her living room, like an aloof, ethereal nemesis.
A couple days later, you are drawn to the cloud through a combination of loathing and wonder. You approach this puff of water vapor that upsets you so much, that you’ve seen so often, faraway in the sky. As you near it, the fuzzy edges and shades of grey and white become all the more fascinating—enticing, even. So much so that you walk through it, feeling its downy mist envelop you, then cling ever so tenuously to your bare arms.
Now that you’ve disrupted its precarious structure, the cloud is disintegrating. You panic. Hoping to halt the drifting edges, you try to sweep them back in with your arms, but this only further rarefies the dispersing cloud. A heart-pounding minute later, the whole thing is gone.
Not sure what else to do, you go buy a billow of cotton and loosen it up, then hang it from her living room ceiling with fishing line, working the suspended fluff of fine, tangled fibers to look as cloud-like as possible. You hope she won’t notice this stand-in for a while, long enough for you to come up with a better solution.
The next morning, you brainstorm furiously, amassing possibilities: installing a holographic projector in the living room floor, staging a burglary, taking out a loan to buy her another cloud, getting a vacation package to get her away from home for a while. Nothing you come up with feels right, so you go to work.
In the afternoon, she surprises you with a phone call.
“I like your rendition of the cloud,” she says. “Did you think I’d miss it?”
“Oh,” you murmur, then take a breath and add, “Yes,” not sure what else you can say.
“Well, we knew it was only temporary. I’m glad it lasted as long as it did. I wish I could have seen it unravel, but you know, work.”
“Of course,” you reply vaguely, puzzled.
“Were you there when it came apart?”
“I was,” you admit.
“What was that like?”
“Unnerving,” you confess.
“Yes, the dissolution of things can be,” she says, almost wistfully.
The silence that follows allows the distance between you and her to insinuate that there is a fragility to this relationship. But you know that try as it might, distance cannot convince you of this purported delicateness. You savor the ineffectual intimation, this reminder of mutual affinity manifested in the negative space of the connection you two share. It will soon be dispelled by your voice or hers.
Soramimi Hanarejima is a writer of innovative fiction and the author of Visits to the Confabulatorium, a fanciful story collection that Jack Cheng said "captures moonlight in Ziploc bags." Soramimi’s recent work has appeared in various literary magazines, including Panoply, Pulp Literature and The Absurdist.