Childhood Memory Prompt – Cloud Pictures


Jenny stood in the kitchen, a hand on each hip and her legs slightly apart to support the weight of a full blown strop.  Her face was reddening and her chest was expanding frantically as she cocked her head in a gesture of defiance.

“I don’t care, I’m not going and you can’t make me”

Her mother looked at her, raised an exasperated eyebrow and carried on peeling the carrots.

Jenny huffed, stamped her foot, and ran outside. She slammed the kitchen door, and then slammed it again just because it wasn’t loud enough the first time. The lower of the three glass panes gave a satisfying rattle. She was so angry and it just wasn’t fair. They didn’t care what she thought, and no matter how many times she shouted her mother never listened. It was always the same. She felt the sting of tears fill her eyes and she really didn’t want to cry. Only babies cry and she wasn’t a baby she was seven.

The old coal bunker was at the back of the house, a small stone square about 3ft high with a flat concrete roof. Jenny stood on a couple of breeze blocks loosely stacked on the floor and climbed onto the roof. Still angry she lay down on her back and took great chunks of air into her lungs. The concrete was warm underneath her and the late afternoon sun threw a blanket of balmy heat across her skin. She spread out her arms and legs, lay still like an angel, she thought. As she raised up her eyes to watch the white cotton swirls floating across a sea of pale blue. That’s when she saw her, she saw an angel.

Jenny didn’t dare blink. She forced her eyes wide and felt them pulling, almost hurting. She saw the shape slowly forming as one cloud gently wove beneath another. She saw the line of a face, a forehead, a nose. The cloud slowly moved and she saw a trail of linen fall behind, two large wings outspread, as wide as a row of houses and she was sure she could see them gently fluttering in the blue expanse. A billowing halo sat atop the white lady and jenny looked up in awe. Then she blinked and the angel was gone.

She tried to focus again. She wanted to ask the angel what she should do. The angel would listen, she’d understand. Jenny strained her eyes wide again and watched. The angel was gone. Instead an elephant was running through the sky, she could see two large ears and a long white trunk that lifted high above its body. Oh no, it was being chased by a dragon. Fire billowed from the dragon’s snout almost reaching the elephant. “Run, Run” she mouthed as her heart raced quicker in her chest.  The more the clouds moved, the more the dragon got closer. She gasped. She clasped her eyes shut as tight as she could. She waited for a second before opening one tentative eye, then the other.

“Jenny, what are you doing up there” her mother asked, wiping her hands on the corner of her apron. Jenny looked back at the sky and didn’t speak.

“You’ll like the new house, and you’ll make lots of new friends, I promise” she said, trailing a finger across Jenny’s forehead.

Jenny sat up and looked around. She hesitated for a second, then asked “Can my bedroom be pink?”

“It can be whatever colour you want, now get down from there and come back inside”

“Ok, I’ll go, but only because Pink’s my favourite colour”

Her mother just smiled and said “I know”.

About helenmidgley

Helen Midgley likes to think of herself as a cross between Dawn French and Kate Moss. She has been in the witness protection programme for a number of years and once lived in Brighton as a bearded mechanic called Dave! Her current incarnation is as a part-time Journalism & Media tutor at a small FE College in Yorkshire. She has survived cancer, dandruff and athlete’s foot and has a penchant for black humour and red wine.

21 comments on “Childhood Memory Prompt – Cloud Pictures

  1. An excellent portrait of childhood, darling. Full of wonder.

    • Thanks. It something I’ve always done, looking at shapes and seeing patterns form, I still do it now, in shadows, patterns on wallpaper, bubbles in a bath etc. Too much space in my head, lol 🙂

  2. Reblogged this on helen midgley and commented:

    This was written for a prompt on the fabulous Community Storyboard. Does anyone else remember staring at clouds and imagining the shapes that appeared. I still do it now, looking at patterns in shadows, wallpaper, bubbles in the bath. Not sure what that says about me, lol

  3. Excellent. It reminds me of childhood with all its imagination, defiance, and easy bribes. Too bad adulthood can’t work like that.

  4. Leonardo da Vinci said you should look for mini landscapes and forms in rocks and nature – so you are in good company! Great piece.

  5. Very nice. Reminded me of some discussions my kids and I had while looking at clouds. Thanks

  6. Wonderful! I just loved this piece, Helen. The cloud imaginings were so true to my own memories – and that Jenny’s imagination even scared her 🙂 Great job!

  7. Really delightful, Helen! I loved laying on the grass in my neighbor’s yard (his yard was bigger than ours) and looking at the clouds and calling out figures and animals. I miss that imagination of my childhood 🙂

  8. […] Childhood Memory Prompt – Cloud Pictures (neverendingstorydepository.wordpress.com) […]

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