When I was a kid, I dreamt that I would one day touch the clouds. I dreamt that I would be among the stars, floating in a sea of air, and wrapping myself in the atmosphere, lost in a world I could hardly imagine. When I was a kid, that was all that mattered, the stars, the skies, the clouds, everything up above that was impossible to reach from the ground. When I was a kid, I firmly believed that adults could do anything, that, if they just tried hard enough, even a kid like me could have been up there with the clouds.
I don’t know what it was about the sky that made me so engrossed. I don’t know what it was about the clouds, or the stars, that made me want to reach for them. They shimmered in the night, they stood floating aimlessly in the day, and, somewhere among that, was where I wanted to be. It’s a childish distinction, isn’t it? The hallmark of youth, to dream. The sky looked vast, un-traversable to my glassy eyes, and even now, looking up into the sky, it still looks like the limit.
If I had told myself twenty years ago that I would one day be among the clouds, I think I would have jumped for the moon. Although it wasn’t exactly the same thing, I peeled over the cover of the window, and peeked through the darkened glass, looking into the clouds below, and closing my eyes as I drifted in the sky, travelling to another world.
The moon light sifted in, and I heard shuffling from beside me. Her eyes peered open for a second, and I smiled.
“Did I wake you?” She shook her head slowly in her seat. Her breath was slow, and I could see from the dying rose on her lips that she was still tired. Her hair fluttered in her face, and I smiled and reached over to brush it off.
“Thank you,” she muttered as she slowly opened her eyes. Despite the dark of the cabin, I could still see myself reflected in her eyes, my long hair draping over me and blending with the moonlight.
“Can’t sleep?” She asked. I shook my head, and turned towards the window, beckoning her to look as well.
“We’re in the sky,” I began, “somewhere in the clouds, just floating. Isn’t that amazing?” She looked at me like I was on something, but smiled and giggled.
“You’re talking about that right?” I nodded and watched as the clouds slowly drifted out of my view, and new clouds took their place. I smiled as the moonlight and starlight beamed into the night sky. I smiled as I had still yet to be among the stars. I smiled knowing that I could never truly satisfy my childish cravings.
“Rightly so. Isn’t it amazing?” I answered.
“Do you think it’s amazing?” Her voice was like a low hum in the darkness, followed by the hum of the engines and the cutting of wind.
“I do. Humans were never meant to fly, we were never meant to soar in the sky and be able to stay like this for as long as we want.”
“We were never meant to do a lot of things. And yet, flying has always been your thing. You’d pester me about it all the time. Wanting to be in the sky.”
“Even now, I can hardly believe it. We’re in the sky, with the clouds, doing it effortlessly. Adults really can do everything, can’t they?” She smiled and gave me a questioning look.
“You make it sound as if you’re not an adult.” I laughed at that.
“I may very well be. We may very well be. But in the end, we’d always be children, right?” She nodded, “We’d be the biggest children in the entire world.”
“The biggest children floating in the sky.”
“The biggest children shooting for the stars.”
“Do you think we’ll ever get there?” She paused.
“You’re still dreaming, aren’t you?” She asked. I looked from the window to the seat in front of me, the darkness slowly enveloping all sight. I stretched my hands in front of me, wondering if I stretched hard enough whether I could go from the sky to the stars.
“My childish dreams will always just be that. Isn’t that for the better?” I answered. I felt her warmth beside me. She enclosed her hands with mine.
“I didn’t think my hands would be–”
“You’re cold.” I smiled and looked at the seat in front of us as she gave me a worrying look.
“You’re still dreaming, aren’t you?” She asked again. I sighed. The night sky beside me, the clouds below me, and the stars above me. It was unbelievable. I could reach out and touch the clouds if I wanted, I could fall into the Earth, float in the atmosphere without a care in the world. But if I jumped, I wouldn’t ever be able to jump high enough to touch the stars. And even if I did, I would be lost in space, swallowed up by a darkness I couldn’t understand.
“I guess I still am.”
“Are you?” Her eyes locked onto mine, unchanging, unable to let go. I hated this about her, and at the same time, I was glad she was like that. She always strung me along, and even in the chance that I brought her up into the air with me, to see the atmosphere and to breath in the clouds, she would always be like that. I was in her debt.
“I am.” Her hand’s warmth became familiar in a matter of seconds, and I could see her eyes calm.
“That’s good then,” but her eyes wouldn’t leave mine, “keep dreaming. And never stop. Okay?”
“Even if I may not be able to reach the stars?”
“Even if you won’t, it’s still nice, isn’t it? To have a dream like that. An unobtainable dream, but a dream that’s just a childish wish. Isn’t that nice?” Even in the darkness, I could still see myself reflected in her eyes.
“Is it nice?”
“I think so.”
“Why’s that?” She hummed in silence before answering.
“Probably the same reason why you think it’s amazing to fly.”
“Isn’t that just sad?”
“Why do you think so?” Even in the darkness, I could still make out her hand, and I could still make out the strands of hair that instinctively fell to her face.
“Isn’t it that only you think it’s sad?” She said, her voice filling in the darkness around us. I reached over to brush off the strands of hair picking at her face, and she giggled and thanked me, leaning over to my shoulder.
“Maybe,” I said in passing, “maybe you’re right.” She looked over, reached her hand, and brushed off strands of my hair. I hadn’t even noticed.
“Can you see better now?”
“It isn’t that bad to have a dream. Even if you think it’s sad. Even if it does end up being sad. It’s not bad. Most people can’t. So, if you can, keep it, and hold onto it.” I looked over at her. Her eyes were resting. I smiled, and let one hand over her head, silently patting her.
“The night sky is full tonight.”
“What might it be full with?”
“The sounds of sirens, the sounds of wheels, and the sound of a million hearts in silent beat. But maybe, it might just be the sound of this plane.” I smiled and closed my eyes to sleep.