The cloud baby takes form slowly, a collection of cells, a core, then a head. Arms and legs follow. You track its progress eagerly and sometimes run your fingers through the downy contrails of its hair, feel it watching you, as if you were the moon instead of its mother. The cloud baby rises at dawn and makes its home in the cool blue embrace of the sky. You sing it lullabies, warm it with your breath. The cloud baby is ravenous and howling.
You tickle it, throw it high above your head, until the cloud baby gurgles with joy and bounces its limbs up and down, absorbed by the moment. On rainy days, you feel its absence, note the thump of your heart trying to free itself from a darkness that grips you tightly. You curl into the emptiness the cloud baby has left, turn off the heating, prefer the hug of your coat. Cupboards shed packaging into the shape of a cot, and you consider climbing inside. The cloud baby shifts with the seasons.
On winter days, it shakes you awake, peels sleep from your eyelids. You slip your toes into the frost; let your instinct guide you. The cloud baby holds you a willing hostage to the rhythm of its days. Nothing will be the same, they said when you tried to imagine what would follow. The cloud baby screams, and you reach for it, as only a mother could.
grew up near the M5 in Devon, which lured her to cities and airports in search of adventure, until she returned home in 2013 to raise her son. Her work has been placed in the Bath Flash Award, Best Microfiction 2022 Anthology
and appears in various publications such as Ellipsis Zine, Flash Frontier
. Her flash collection Not Visiting the SS Great Britain is available now from Alien Buddha Press. She tweets @words_outwest
and skeets @emmapwrites.bsky.com