Once there was a cat and a boy.
Boy was the size of a boy. Cat was the size of a house. Or, if you were a giant, you might think that Boy was the size of a teacup and Cat was the size of a kettle—but I am not a giant.
Boy and Cat slept—as all creatures do. They slept under trees and in open plains, under stars and moons. In their world, dreams were living things, with consequences—so, they always slept at the same time—Boy on Cat, sometimes, and Cat on Boy, others—under paw or tail, mostly.
One night, while they slept, the lone wolf came and whispered something into Boy’s ear—then, he nibbled Cat’s tail, waking Cat—just for a moment—long enough so that when Cat fell back to sleep, he’d lost Boy. Boy’s dreams turned dark and scary, so that when he woke, he found that they were surrounded by wolves.
* * *
Once there was a crying girl who carried an umbrella.
She was normal in every way but one—her tears fell in the wrong direction. She felt alone and helpless having never met another living thing, and so she cried. She carried her umbrella so her tears wouldn’t bother the clouds who followed her wherever she went. Where she went? Here and there—this way and that way—in her little world. She wore slapping-sandals that left footprints in the quiet as she walked.
Her tears came in small rivulets from the corners of her eyes, scoring channels up to her hairline, before they tugged loose, pooling in the umbrella above her head. She felt alone—she’d always been alone, so that shouldn’t surprise anyone. She was alone until the day she found a small boy and a large cat surrounded by wolves.
* * *
Girl did not know that wolves were dangerous. She walked through them, up to Boy and Cat to introduce herself. It was only then that she saw their fear then turned—saw the hunger in the wolves’ eyes—and realized the mistake she’d made.
Standing beside Boy and Cat, and realizing she was no longer alone, she had no plans to be helpless. Setting her feet, she took a deep breath and closed her umbrella. She held it like a sword, pointing it at each wolf in turn. The wolves, knowing they had nothing to fear from an umbrella began to laugh and howl as the girls escaped tears—all at once—into the sky where the clouds gobbled them up just as the wolves had been hoping to gobble up the boy and girl and cat.
If Girl had only ever asked and if clouds had only ever learned to speak, she’d have known that it was all the clouds had ever wanted. And so, they did that other thing that clouds sometimes do. They made it rain.
The rain washed away the wolves, the darkness, the tears, and all were happy, except maybe Cat who hated getting wet.
* * *
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